Cognitive Dissonance is a contradiction between two things, our ideals and the information we are presented with. Our ideals can be our thoughts, goals and values, while the information presented is what we actually see or do. When these two things match, there is no problem. However, when they don't seem to match up is where we have a problem-cognitive dissonance. This can produce anxiety, fear, stress and frustration. Some believe that because of these negative effects, it pushes us to overcompensate these negative actions and pull more towards the positive aspect of things. One can think of cognitive dissonance as "Needs" vs. "Wants", this is because often our long-term needs are thrown aside to attend to our short-term wants.
The article does an excellent job of demonstrating cognitive dissonance. It observes a specific group that predicts a flood will end the world. They have a strong belief system, which proved to be wrong in their prediction. The dissonance comes into play when they continue to believe in the God, who ended up being wrong about the flood. The contradiction is to continue to "believe" in something that obviously isn't true.
An example of this would be a woman who is looking for financial security, that is also in a relationship with someone who is financially irresponsible.The conflict would be that she needs financial security (long-term) and her boyfriend is irresponsible (short-term). Her choices are to leave the relationship, put her long-term goals in perspective, and find another form of security. Her other option is to work on her short-term goals, which would be the relationship, and lessen her need for financial security.
Each and every day we can face cognitive dissonance. We are constantly faced with choices, where we need to decide if it is more important for "now" or for the "long-run." Experience can often clash with our expectations in life, forcing us to decide between two things that both can seem perfect in their own way. The choices we make shape our lives- it is all a matter of the importance of our goals- long-term versus short term.