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Mind tricks

To my delight, Laura brought me a book to read, “The Art of Clear Thinking.” It’s all about our cognitive biases—all the strange ways our thinking is flawed. Note that these flaws do not come from reading the wrong books or how our parents taught us but from structural ways our brains can be tricked.

Our brain creates connections and often uses shortcuts. Most of the time, this makes life simpler and information processing more efficient, but it can also lead to rather strange behaviour. As a fan of behavioural science and the “not-so-rational man,” I love the book.

Let’s look at a few versions of our madness. I encourage you to investigate your emotional responses to similar situations.

Classical economics focus on Homo economicus, the economic man. The economic man is a rational, self-interested being who always optimises to their benefit when making decisions as a consumer or producer.

Torn of paper stuck to a board with the words "Unconscious bias" on it.

The economic man values a loss of 100 AED the same as he would a gain of 100 AED. Your net worth changed by the same amount. However, due to our cognitive biases, this is not so. It has been proven that losing 100 AED has double the emotional effect than the positive effect of gaining 100 AED. Which is irrational since a 100 AED is a 100 AED.

This is called loss aversion.

It means that you respond well to insurance marketing campaigns that tell you how to avoid those very costly but improbable events that they insure you against. You can prevent a very large loss that might never happen to you for such a small price. It also combines with another bias that makes us over-respond to recent events. Consider the recent extreme flooding in Dubai. While it is unlikely to happen again soon, I bet the insurance companies made a fortune in water damage insurance. Even from those that are not in the danger zones.

Experiments show that people are willing to walk an extra ten minutes to save 20 AED on food. But the same people are unlikely to walk ten minutes to save 20 AED on a thousand dirham clothing item.

In both cases, you spend the same to save the same, but because the food is cheaper, you value the 20 AED more than on the thousand dirham item. This is the contrast effect.

a list of common mental biases

One of my favourites is our bias for control, termed the illusion of control. A few years ago, after we moved to an open-plan office with a central air conditioning system, our building manager received many complaints about the temperature. Over a coffee, he told me he would install controllers all over the office, just after telling me that the systems are all linked and do not have individual units to control airflow. “But,” I protested, “they won’t do anything.”

“Indeed, but the complaints will stop.”

I could not believe that people would not notice, but I often watched them walk up to the fake controllers and change their settings. Complaints indeed stopped.

Walking to the beach in winter, I watch people hammer the crosswalk button to turn the light red for cars at a busy intersection. I think to myself, “If I designed this intersection and had to consider traffic flow, there is no way that button would interrupt my flow of lights on the road.” Apparently, I am right, and the buttons do nothing at most busy intersections. But it does feel better when we press the button—just in case.

And now I have an idea. My family keeps burning the toast when they make it. I think the best would be for me to set the toaster to the setting that most often provides the ideal toast, then disconnect the timer knob. That way, they can keep influencing control over the toaster, and I can avoid burnt toast even when they make it.

May you find joy in June, with special thanks to Laura,


Air yoga

June Updates

Teacher Changes

Gentle and talkative Juliana told us in May that she will trade the sand for snow in Canada. This was her last week with us, and you only have a few days to message her goodbye before she flies.

Since keeping up with our practice is the only way to prevent mobility loss as we age, we want you to feel happy and welcome. To ensure uninterrupted service, we have invited Tereza and Irina to help out with our private students and within the studio.

We are confident that Tereza and Irina will make you feel welcome, keep your body healthy, and help ensure that Anca and Rosiel do not go a little stir-crazy.

Schedule Changes

With the summer approaching, we may consider reducing the total number of classes. For now month, we are making only minor adjustments.

The new schedule will take effect on the 10th of June.

You can download a unique version below that highlights the changes. As always, the schedule is also available on the website for download on the bookings page.

This month's Inside Flow

This month, we practice the flow for “Man on a Mission”.

We recommend joining us in our weekly classes to practice, as it is our most energetic class and great fun. Frequent practice can benefit your heart health.

To celebrate International Yoga Day, we will have our Inside Flow Concert on the 23rd of June.

Feedback from the previous month’s concert:

Feedback from a student on our Inside Flow Concert.

What are we reading

This month the teachers sent me so many books to mention! I'll stick to two and save the rest .. just in case.

the art of thinking clearly

Rolf Dobelli

book cover for The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli

Who is reading it: Charl, cause Laura said so

Why: Because Laura gave it to him and he loves the topic. It is a beautiful collection of all our systematic thinking errors. Even though we can’t always avoid them, it is better to at least know about them.

How Not To Worry

Paul McGee

Book cover for How Not To Worry by Paul McGee

Who is reading it: Juliana

Why: Read it during my holiday in Kenya. Easy to read and full of humour, it provides tips on how to manage our stress and anxiety...other than joining yoga sessions with great people.

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