A little observation of how avoiding things we hate guarantees they eventually will be our most novel sources of joy

The Untapped Source of Joy in Your Hatred for Coriander

The Untapped Source of Joy in Your Hatred for Coriander


April 26, 2020

Author: Victoria

I think, therefore I am. - René Descartes (I love this quote)

My Initial assumptions

Everything we experience is a set of responses to stimuli, we pursue the positive stimuli.

The Subsequent Conclusion

We Are A Set of Responses To Stimuli

Everything that we experience is a set of mechanical responses to an unknown series of stimuli. As far as the physical pleasures go, we pursue those that maximize pleasure and health. We take these ingredients that we like and reconfigure them in as many combinations as possible, because novelty also effects the degree of pleasure extracted. Conversely, we avoid experiences we’ve attached a negative association to, guaranteeing things we don’t like remain more novel and unknown to us.

Take coriander as a controversial culinary herb. Most people like it, some don’t. I used to be in the later category. I make the argument that people who think that some culinary experiences are bad, are only denying themselves additional sources of positive emotion.

Our Responses Are Learned

If there is a non zero probability of developing a positive relation with a stimuli, aka some human somewhere has liked coriander before, then our hatred of the thing is by chance. It is learned. Eventually, we will have familiarized ourselves with all the things we developed a positive association with, like chocolate, leaving only the negative associations as sources of novel experiences.

We Win By Re-wiring Ourselves

The people who re-wire themselves, replacing negative associations with positive ones, gain new stimuli to enjoy. Gaining positive stimuli doesn’t scale pleasure linearly. Each thing you enjoy can potentially be mixed and synthesized with other enjoyable stimuli to create novel sources of pleasure. As such, look on the things you hate not as disappointments, but as opportunities for experiences you’ve yet to have.

An Alternative Set of Assumptions

Everything we experience is a set of responses to stimuli, we dwell on the negative to avoid harm

The Subsequent Conclusion

If it were true that we spent more time negatively charged stimuli, then wouldn’t our cooking consist of all the things we don’t like? Dwelling on the negative may be important for avoiding harm, but the brain remains oriented toward pleasure on activities where it has the choice to do so. Can you imagine our recipes if they were made of everything we don’t like? It’d be so foul I couldn’t find a polite way of describing it.

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