Sometimes things get better and you’re not sure why. Is this a bad thing? Well it’s nice that things got better. What’s worrying is if things start to go badly again and you don’t know how to fix it again.
- Your computer keeps giving you an error but stops after a few tries and you don’t know why.
- You have a period of feeling unenthused and anti-social, and then you’re aware a bit later that this has changed, but you don’t know how or when.
- You’re single for a while and then get a girlfriend. You have no idea what you did differently.
When does this happen?
- When it’s a complicated system: The change could have been caused by multiple small changes in other variables. It’s therefore not possible to identify one sole cause of the change. If your mood improves it might be because you started sleeping more, started exercising and started phoning people more. It’s all 3 of those things and probably more.
- When it’s somewhat random: Often there is an element of randomness you can’t control. You can increase the chances of something going your way, but sometimes it was just down to luck.
- When it’s a gradual change: If the change is gradual, it suggests it wasn’t caused by a sudden discrete change. It can be harder to pin a cause also if there is a delay in the effect, and the change doesn’t have a specified time to it.
What can you do?
- Accept the reasons described above. Be aware it could have been multiple things you were doing, or could have been somewhat random. It may be that some specific change in your behaviour wasn’t the cause.
- Look for more data. Have other people experienced the same change? In the case of improving mood, exercise is often not the sole cause, but across multiple people is correlated with improving mood.
(I had less time to work on my post today then normal, hence the much shorter post!)