Do you know that when you like someone, your brain doesn’t necessarily want him/her? Conversely, do you know that your brain can want something that you don’t even like?
Is there a difference between wanting and liking? Only within the last decade, scientists have found out that there is. Here’s a simple explanation. Everything from outside is perceived by our senses, the sight, smell, sound, and taste of it. From there, it goes on its way to the brain through a few circuits (we called it neuronal pathway), which once have reached the brain, will elicit our response, such as liking, wanting or hating. Neurologists have this device which can detect the active circuits (the circuits that are being used). For example, if you see a flower and you like it, the circuit from your senses into your brain will light up. Many people thought that liking and wanting are the same. It makes sense, doesn’t it? For example, you want a cheeseburger because you like it. You want to play basketball because you like it. For many years, scientists thought of it too, but a failed experiment revealed it’s wrong.
An experiment was done on rats and primates, in which the ‘want circuit’, the circuit which is activated when you want something, is cut off. Scientist believed that this will suppress their ‘wants’ towards food, so that the rats wouldn’t have an effect towards the presentation of food (in this experiment, a cheese). But what they discovered was surprising. The rats instead still move towards the food like a hungry animal, but once it came close to the cheese, the rat just stayed there and didn’t eat it! They tried moving the cheese, and still, the rat moves towards the cheese, but then just stayed there, not eating it. It totally puzzled the scientists. So they used the device to detect the brain circuits, and realized that although the ‘wants circuit’ is cut off, another circuit which ends at the same area of the brain lights up. Now this is the discovery of the ‘like circuit’. The scientists concluded that there are different circuits in the brain for ‘liking’ and ‘wanting’.
This finding explains much of our unexplainable behavior. Like why do smokers still smoke though they know it’s bad. Why we’d really like to wake up early in the morning, but turned off the alarm and went back to sleep anyway. Why everybody wants to be successful, but only some really do something about it. Why drug addicts repeatedly inject themselves with morphine, although it is painful. Why is it that we can like someone, but we don’t necessarily want him or her. Why some severely battered wife still sticks with her abusing husband?
It’s all about the distinction between ‘liking’ and ‘wanting’. Ask the smokers, they might say that they don’t really like the act of smoking, but they want to smoke anyway. However, saying that wanting and liking signals goes through different pathways in the brain, it doesn’t mean that they fire off separately on different occasions. In fact, most of the time, they fire simultaneously. That’s why when we want to eat, we’d eat what we like. When we want to play, we’d play what we like to play. We must remember that those two pathways end up at the same part of the brain. Hence, when both pathways fire together, it creates a greater response! In the case of addiction, however, the substances in the drugs or cigarette alters the brain chemistry, so that the ‘want circuit’ is fired more.
So, taking this finding into daily lives, I’d that if you want something in your life, fire off both of your ‘like’ and ‘want’ circuits. If you want something, make sure you really like it, or it won’t work. Don’t become a doctor only because your family told you so. You must be willing to like it in order for you to want it. Or else, sure you’ll become a doctor, but most probably, an average one, unless on the way you find medicine very interesting and start liking it. Do the things that you like, and success will follow On the other hand, if you like something, don’t say that you’d like it. Say that you WANT it. Don’t say “I’d like to be a world-known architect’, say “I WANT to be a world-known architect”. If you like something, deeply want it. Do something. Fire off both of your ‘want’ and ‘like’ circuits! That, my friend, separates the daydreamers and the achievers. CheerioS!
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