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Game Theory, Cognitive Bias and Zen

The best strategists in game based thinking have no regrets about the past or expectation for the future. They are masters of being in the moment – in the “Now”.

I am not saying one should not plan for the future. It is that many of us actually have expectations for the future that have nothing to do with creating a plan in the “Now”. This flaw in thinking makes the pieces of the game theory puzzle mismatched.



An expectation focuses on the future of what may be. Few of us see it that way. Instead we make assumptions without facts in the present and then focus on what we think is the future without doing what needs to be done. I am not opposed to all expectations.  Expectations can be of value in making choices in interpersonal relationships. Here expectations can help us define “expected” behaviors from others. Expectations can also help us in the enforcement of agreements and creating a model for accountability. This makes them of use in creating effective life strategies.  Clearly in the game of life one can survive and prosper if one has expectations about the strategies and potential choices and actions of other individuals.

As repeated throughout this book, one of the major sources of problems is false or inaccurate beliefs. In Applied game theory we use the term “Cognitive Bias”. Many of our beliefs result from our natural desire to repeat things that are familiar to us. Human beings are hard-wired to seek comfort and familiarity and habit is a huge source of comfort. In a world of uncertainty this translates into a natural desire for the familiar, which in turn is expressed through habitual behaviors.  Thus our beliefs of what will make us comfortable also influence our expectations for the future.

Often what is familiar and habitual for us has a negative influence upon us? An unaware person wouldn’t even notice this. Many of us are more comfortable with those things we are most familiar with, even when repeating these things have negative or unpleasant consequences. Given an opportunity to choose between the familiar but negative, and the unknown but possibly positive most of us would opt for the familiar and negative.  It might be said that we gain some pleasure from being with the familiar even if it is negative. The general notion is, “Better to accept the negative and familiar than gamble on the unknown.”

Many psychologists believe that happiness depends largely on our personal history concerning fulfilled or unfulfilled expectations. If our expectations seldom come to pass we are more likely to lose faith, become unmotivated, develop a poor attitude or be generally unhappy. Many a problem solver will seek to create some systematic approach that can be taken to increase the chance that one’s expectations will come to pass? This question poses an interesting dilemma. On the one hand it is best to have no expectations at all. On the other hand if your intention is clear and you live a life that is guided by creative thinking as welled as clearly defined agreements, with defined boundaries and accountability with other  then most of what you have intended will come to pass. At times there will be some unexpected small event that leads to unexpected consequences yet the skilled decision maker can usually compensate for these events fairly quickly.

Once we have reached this level of awareness then we must deal with the behavior of others. Even if we have personally transcended attachment to expectation and regret we will still need to be in relationship with others who live their lives through expectation and regret.

A practical approach in dealing with those who think this is to have enough reserve in your life to compensate for the challenges that may arise out of regret/expectation based thinking.

Extraordinary and ordinary thinkers see the world differently and respond to it differently as well. The expectation of ordinary thinkers seldom take into account factors like “Black Swans” – small, seemingly inconsequential events that eventually lead to large, often unfortunate consequences.

In the end it is love and compassion that will define your ability to transcend the ordinary and live a life free of suffering and unnecessary struggle



  1. What beliefs do you hold on to that you could not prove to be true?
  2. How are these beliefs obstacles to you getting what you need?


Here is a recommended film to help reinforce the lesson in this lesson:


The Game: This film stars Michael Douglas as a person who seems to have it all. he also has arrogance, narcissism, self involvement and disdain for the little people.  He is has not yet discovered that he is his own worst enemy. His brother, played by Sean Penn helps nudge him to get where he needs to go. This film will be of special interest for anyone who has attended one of these weekend human potential/personal development seminars. If you haven’t “got it” yet, this will help you get it.




Lewis Harrison is a success and wealth mentor and coach. He speaks to organizations and businesses of all types and offers seminars throughout the world on his work on the art and science of decision making through spiritually motivated  “Game Based Thinking”.


To learn more on some of the ideas presented in this blog please read my Ebook: Winning the Game of Life: A Primer to Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory”


You can purchase and download it at:

Winning the Game of Life: A Primer to Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory

Winning The Game Of Life: A Primer On Lewis Harrison’s Applied Game Theory

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