Gap and the Gain
In a zoom call with a friend one day, he told me the salary of a lawyer he was working with as part of his job. He said, “If I were making this sort of money, I would just work for 2 years at most and then retire!” Before I could provide the support and necessary validation on his enthusiastic plan, he immediately had second thoughts. He continued, “Oh well, while being a student few years ago, I used to think the same way about the salary I am making currently, and I was so stupid! At this income, I’ll be working till 65 to make decent wealth!” Turns out my validation wasn’t required, after all.
What my friend described that day, is not so uncommon. Not just with money, even with many other things too, it’s common to adapt to what we already have as the normal while fixating on the next big thing. Take phones for example. In a relatively short span of time, we have come from ”It would be so cool to have a phone which can record video” to “This phone can only record in 1080p and not 4k, Who wants that!” I still remember the excitement I felt when I was able to load “google.com” on my phone for the first time after it loading for 5 minutes, and now we know quite well the frustration of a webpage taking a full minute to load.
As always, psychologists have a term for this phenomenon called “Hedonic Adaptation”. It's the tendency of people to quickly adapt to where they are and what they have got and start seeking the next thing. I recently read about this concept in the book, The Gap and the Gain. As the title indicates, the book says that normally we can be in two types of mindsets. One mindset is the gain mindset where we focus on the gains we have made and the opposite to this is the gap mindset, where we focus on the gaps that remain. The gaps can come from various sources. We can have our ideal state (which keeps on changing), the comparisons with our peers and also, someone else's expectations from us.
The premise of the book is simple. We tend to focus too much on the "gap" and not enough on the "gains". Soon after we get an increment, we are already thinking about the next jump, or the new gap that is created between where we are and where we would want to be. It's easy to forget all the gains we have made to get here. It's easy to forget that just some years ago, we were probably fighting with our friends on whose turn it was to buy that ice-cream that we wanted to eat.
The book argues that it's our choice which part we focus on. The idea is similar to seeing the glass half full or half empty. The author says,
For instance, you may be on your way to a concert that you have been anticipating, but you're running 5 minutes late. If you're focused on and frustrated about those 5 minutes, then you're in the gap mindset. You're measuring yourself against the ideal, but in this case, if you think about it, you still have the entire night of concert remaining, the entire night is a gain.
I am still in the early parts of the book but I liked this framework by the author. I too fall prey to the gap mindset many a times. But shifting the focus on the progress we have made can be super encouraging to keep us going!
Let’s try to not lose sights of our gains as we work towards closing different gaps in life.
Bookmarks of the week
Movie: Really liked the movie Jai Bhim. The movie can be very triggering and is miles from being a light movie. But the storytelling was great. The first 15-20 minutes of the movie can appear boring, but if you get through that, the movie keeps you pretty engaged
Song: I have been listening to older songs these days (thanks to YouTube Music algorithm). One song that I used to like but have come to appreciate more and more is Do dil mil rahe hain. I think it’s probably the sad state of lyrics in today’s Bollywood songs that makes me appreciate its lyrics and simplicity even more.
Tweet: Really fun video tweet explaining monopoly power (well, maybe that was not the agenda of the video). I recommend watching it on mute as the audio is quite messed up and doesn’t add anything.
Thank you so much for reading!
Until next time (hopefully, without this long of a break :P),
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