Are We More Afraid of What’s Inherently Scary or What Inherently Matters?

Are we more afraid of what’s inherently scary or what inherently matters? Barry Ritholtz shared this graphic to make the point:

Source: Our World in Data

While shark attacks and terrorism occupy our minds, heart disease and cancer are how most of us will get got.

We can find similar examples any time we’re making decisions in the face of uncertainty. The biggest headlines/craziest stories will occupy most of our attention, while the mundane will pretty much slip by.

The problem is – the mundane is what matters. We can’t really control for the freak incidents, we can make slight modifications to guard against the more predictable ones.

Ex. swimming in the ocean is probably ok, but smoking cigarettes over a butter-drenched steak probably isn’t.

Ex. Flying on an airplane is probably ok, but watching Tommy Boy while munching on some paint chips probably isn’t.

Don’t worry so much about the extreme outliers and focus on getting the simple stuff right. When we pay attention to what matters, then we can actually enjoy that day at the beach or taking that flight to go on the vacation. Our average experience can actually improve.