A person’s favorite song says something about them. It shows what they desire to a certain degree. Maybe they want to be admired or loved. Sometimes it connects to how they feel, or a specific time or person in their life. However, mostly, we just like songs because they sound good. Art is similar. Rembrandt’s works are incredibly human, Monet’s impressionistic blossoms catch your eye, and Van Gogh’s work gives you this feeling of awe. History, context, and experience are all important when it comes to liking a work of art, but mostly, we just like them because it looks good. Food can come from a variety of places, appease the different desires of the tongue, but we just want something that tastes good at the end of the day. As humans, we like good things, even when there isn’t deeper meaning to it.
There’s a personality factor called, the “need for cognition”. It boils down to how much the individual likes to think. How much we engage in ‘effortful cognitive activities’ depends on how much we want to think about the world we’re in. For those who don’t need as much cognition, it’s easier to appreciate the ‘good things’ without overthinking it. It sounds good, so they like the song. For other people, that process seems ridiculous. We like things for a reason, after all, and so they are inclined to search out every possibility of a deeper meaning for their preference.
People aren’t robots; we have a wild spectrum of preferences, desires, and proclivities. If we want to be the best we can be, we have to look at who we are. Otherwise you’re comparing oranges to apples. Our need for cognition is a personality trait. It’s not easily changed and doesn’t have to be in order to live a full life. However, it’s helpful to realize where on the spectrum you fall: how much cognition you desire. Sometimes things are just good, and we don’t know the full reasons why. Sometimes things should be given more time and effort mentally. If you know you have a high need for cognition, try to calm your mental world a bit: it’s okay if you don’t know why sometimes. If you have a low need for cognition, maybe challenge your preferences a bit more. Make a change for the better.