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The Ending Is More Important Than the Beginning

In their book The Power of Moments, Chip and Dan Heath describe an experiment in which participants underwent three painful trials. In the first, they submerged a hand for 60 seconds in a bucket filled with frigid, 57-degree water.

In the second trial, the time was increased by 30 seconds. For the first 60 seconds, the water was still 57-degrees. But in the final 30 seconds, it was raised to 59-degrees. In neither trial were participants told how long the experiment would last.

Before their third and final bucket, they were asked if they'd prefer to repeat the first or second experiment. A whopping 69% chose the longer trial! Think about that for a moment. In both of the first two trials, their hand was placed in frigid water. The second trial was 30 seconds longer and only slightly less uncomfortable in the end. Yet, more than two out of three people asked to repeat the second trial. Why?

Psychologists tell us it's because when people assess an experience, they rate the experience based on its best or worst part (that is, the peak) and the ending. They call it the "peak-end rule."

Whether you like it or not, people will tend to remember you for when you were at your best, or worst, and for the way you were in the end. It's impossible for any of us to always be at our best. Our worst selves will sometimes slip out no matter how hard we try to hide them. But the ending is something we can better control. Knowing that it's the end, we can devote more time and attention to getting it right.

Possible Preaching Angle:

1) Christian Life; Discipleship - Right now, your life may be average by most standards, with all of its highs and lows, but if you make an effort to end well your every encounter with other people, you'll leave them with a good impression. There are no second chances for making a good first impression, but there's always the chance to end well. 2) Pastor; Minister - Overall, a sermon may be so-so; but if the conclusion is memorable, it'll likely be remembered fondly weeks later.

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