The Information We Miss Is Often What We Are Most Interested In
Throughout history, we have always been fascinated by mysteries.
Questions we don’t have the immediate answer to just seem to be more interesting than the ones we could figure out momentarily.
This article sets out to explain why it is that we enjoy mysteries so much and what sorts of mysteries there are.
In the simplest terms, a mystery is something we don’t understand or have an answer to right away.
They are mainly fueled by our natural curiosity, which is the same driving force thanks to which we have developed a lot of our skills.
From an evolutionary standpoint, we need to know certain things (where can we find food, is this place dangerous etc.), so when we are presented with something implying it will provide us with more knowledge, we intuitively start to like it.
The promise of knowledge is simply alluring to us.
A different but just as important side is that mysteries make this information gap easily seen.
There are a lot of things we don’t know and don’t have an interest in, but mysteries take advantage of our curiosity and show us exactly what it is we don’t know.
This, alongside the fact that most of the more common mysteries are connected to crimes or love, which are some of our essential interests (survival or reproduction), make them irresistible.
As a bonus, the more information we have about the context, the easier it is to spot this information gap and the more we are motivated to fill it.
The structure in which we are presented with mysteries, usually is also important.
While most of the time we go chronologically when we experience something mysterious (be it a crime movie or a magic trick), we usually see the outcome first.
This is yet another surprise our brains have to make sense of, which sparks our curiosity even more.
Finally mysteries have the potential for epiphanies which is one of the best rewards for our brains.
There are some differences when talking about mysteries.
They can be big or small, have an answer or not, be presented by someone, or simply out there.
So let’s have a look at the different types!
For starters, they can be fictional.
Here they can be portrayed through paintings, theater, or even music.
The easiest example for them, however, is mystery novels – in them, we are presented with a problem and clues to finding its solution.
Regardless of whether the setting and environment are based in the real world or not, the basic premise is the same, and it works so well. Books like these are some of the biggest best-sellers in the world.
Crime fiction makes us use our cognitive abilities and predict the possible outcomes of both future and past situations.
Not only that but our personal judgment for each character is vital when trying to figure out what happened.
A different sort of mysteries are those which constantly surround us.
Questions like how did the universe start or what exactly is our subconscious have been bugging the minds of some of our greatest scientists for centuries.
Whether such mysteries are in a specific field of study or more generalized, similar to the age-old question of why we are here, they keep being a part of our lives from time to time and will likely stay with us in the future.
These types of inquiries are less likely to be characterized as mysteries simply because their scope is too big.
We often find ourselves being too focused on our day-to-day lives to really start looking for the answers.
Here we are talking about the magic tricks done by magicians, as well as the logic puzzles you can buy yourself.
What these have in common is that you have a physical representation of the problem you’re facing.
Not only that, but you are encouraged by the one presenting you with the mystery to solve it yourself.
The only difference between the two is that when you see a magic show, the presumption is you won’t be able to solve it, which often makes it even more interesting.
Parallels With Therapeutic Approach?
One of the areas we examine here at my college when looking at overcoming depression, is that of many people having an innate need to know.
With mysteries, our desire to work things out and know answers draws us in. Sometimes, people with anxiety or a depressive disorder of some kind find this exacerbates the issue at hand. Ambiguity invites projection. That is, when we do not know something for sure, we often project meaning onto things in our life. This in turn creates beliefs and often those beliefs can be problematic and disabling.
At my college we teach students (and in turn they teach their clients) to become self-aware and recognise when they are projecting meaning on something when they do not have the facts. So if someone does not return a call immediately, and you do not know for sure what the reason is, it may not be because you upset them!
It is a typical and common human need – the need to know and understand. This has led to major human progress and is a massive strength. It helps us make sense of life. However, we often need to understand the value of ‘not knowing’ when we do not have evidence to support our projections. That is, we can enjoy a mystery without always needing to know for sure whodunnit. Until we do actually know for sure, that is.
Mysteries are all around us – in the form of art, items, or deceivingly simple questions – they are a part of our daily lives, as much as we allow them to be.
Logically speaking, this makes all the sense in the world, seeing as how our curiosity has pushed us to evolve in a more complex matter.
If you just look around you, I’m sure you will find some very immersive mysteries just waiting for you to figure them out or just enjoy them as the mystery they are.
Has this piqued your interest in this field? Then have a read of these pages:
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Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life. Having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar. Alternatively, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book.