The other day in the office, I ran across two coworkers laying out what looked like a series of small, candy-coated chocolates on the kitchen counter.

go stones

I couldn't help but ask, "What are those?" readying my follow-up of, "May I have some?"

Unfortunately, my coworker replied that the bite-sized objects were Go stones, and that he was washing them.

Before I knew there were plausible chocolates in the office, I hadn't particularly wanted any, but now I felt a keening sorrow for the alleged chocolates I could not eat. Now. mind you, there was already chocolate in the office (left over from our most recent workshop), and, from past experience, workshop chocolate tends to be more to my taste than chocolate selected arbitrarily from all chocolate sold.

Nevertheless, I could tell that I didn't want to eat the chocolate we had, I wanted to eat the chocolate I'd missed (due to non-existence).

Studying rationality and cognitive biases helped me put a name to the mental foible (loss aversion), but didn't help me immediately dispel the sense of disappointment.

But being able to put a name to my foolishness helped me recognize it as part of a pattern, not just a vague sense of unhappiness. And I felt rewarded just for noticing the cause of my malaise. Plus, when I thought about it, it was such a silly, practically parodic example of loss aversion (I was five feet from alternate chocolate if I wanted it) that I couldn't help but laugh a little to myself.

When I learn new skills and habits from our curriculum, they don't keep me from ever making some kind of error again. But they give me a good chance to notice it's happening and pause to reflect and adjust, whether the intervention comes in the form of doing a fermi estimate to get a sense of priors or just enjoying the spotting the quirks of my brain even more than I would enjoy imaginary chocolates.