You have been training for months for a half marathon.  You really want to win.  You ran sprints, hills, and long endurance training routes.  You have also been preparing mentally, thinking about how to pace yourself in the race.  Finally, it is race day.  You start the race at a steady pace not trying to overwork yourself at the beginning.  As the race continues you make your move.  You start to pull up to the front.  Nearing the end of the race you overtake the person in 2nd place.  What position are you in now?

runSeems like a pretty easy question doesn’t it.  You probably answered first place.  However, if you did, you would be wrong.  The correct answer is second place.

Think about it.  If you pass the person who is in second place, you are now in second place.  The reason you answered incorrectly is because of how the question was asked.  If you overtake the person in 2nd place, what place are you in?  The mind quickly dispels the  answer of 2nd because it doesn’t sound right.  You pass 2nd place so now you are in 2nd place does not sound logical to us.  The mind wants to increase or decrease the number. In this case, since you passed 2, you must be 1.  The brain does not want to spend time to logically map this out so it takes a shortcut.

The mind thinks in patterns.  There is a term for this concept and it is called heuristics.

Heuristics = Mental Rules of Thumb = Automatic Thinking

There is a great easy to read article by Simon Fried about Heuristics. Click here to Read It.