It's funny to me how in times of duress, we reach for the things that are the most familiar, the most well-worn, the most molded to our embrace. Whether it's our mother's cooking, a cute furry troll, or the 25th time reading Pride and Prejudice, there is a powerful amount of comfort in the things we know the most thoroughly. Perhaps it's due to the lack of threat: A story that I've read thirty times already holds no potential to really challenge me, push my thoughts, heighten my pulse or bring me to the edge of my seat. It's like making ten cups of tea with the same tea leaves — the complex flavors are gone and all you're left with is the sweet succor of honey.
In some ways, this seems odd; theoretically it would make sense if we welcomed a new experience when feeling low. After all, if you've been laid off, dumped, or are just plain ill, isn't the natural response to escape the current predicament in some way? It seems that burying yourself in a new novel or meeting a new friend would be a great distraction and a way to potentially lift the spirits. In practice, though, this never seems to be the case. I, for one, will reach for the familiar even if there are objectively far better options available. If I'm sick I'm usually in the rattiest old bathrobe and sweats I have. If I've had a bad day at work, I'm reaching for the simplest, cheapest bourbon in the cabinet. And like probably every other human on the planet, I sometimes even crave my mother's cooking. (Sorry, Mom. Yeah, I know I'm getting coal for Christmas this year.)