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What a 16th-century mystic can teach us about making good decisions

Making Decisions

People usually make impulsive decisions and take shortcuts while stressed out. A 16th-century Catholic mystic, Ignatius, provides us with some methods of discernment and decision-making, which are still relevant today.

  • Relying on Reason and Feelings: It’s important to use your logic and reasoning while also factoring in the feelings(head and heart both).
  • Imaginative Reflection: Taking on a problem with different imaginative twists, like what would we do if we were dying, or if we were conversing with God or someone we trust, leads to clarity and perspective.
  • Check Our Emotions: If the decision provides us with peace, freedom, joy, love or compassion, then it is the right one.

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What a 16th-century mystic can teach us about making good decisions

What a 16th-century mystic can teach us about making good decisions

http://theconversation.com/what-a-16th-century-mystic-can-teach-us-about-making-good-decisions-109705

theconversation.com

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Key Idea

Making Decisions

People usually make impulsive decisions and take shortcuts while stressed out. A 16th-century Catholic mystic, Ignatius, provides us with some methods of discernment and decision-making, which are still relevant today.

  • Relying on Reason and Feelings: It’s important to use your logic and reasoning while also factoring in the feelings(head and heart both).
  • Imaginative Reflection: Taking on a problem with different imaginative twists, like what would we do if we were dying, or if we were conversing with God or someone we trust, leads to clarity and perspective.
  • Check Our Emotions: If the decision provides us with peace, freedom, joy, love or compassion, then it is the right one.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Not Making Good Decisions
We are exposed to biases that influence our ability to make good decisions.
  • We are quick to jump to conclusions because we fail to search for information that might disprove our thoughts.
The Four Villains of Decision Making
  • Narrow framing: The tendency to define our choices in binary terms. We ask, "should I, or shouldn't I?" instead of “What are the ways I could...?”
  • Confirmation bias: People tend to select the information that supports their preexisting attitudes, beliefs, and actions. 
  • Short-term emotion: When we’ve got a difficult decision to make, our feelings occupy our minds. And this doesn't add any new information that could benefit us. 
  • Overconfidence: People often think they know more than they actually do about how the future will unfold.
Defeating Decision-Making Villains
  • Counter narrow framing by widening your options. Expand your set of choices.
  • Confirmation bias leads you to gather self-serving information. Analyze and test your assumptions to overcome the bias.
  • Short-term emotion will tempt you to make the wrong choice. So distance yourself before deciding.
  • Prepare to be wrong. Don't be overconfident about how the future will unfold.
Our emotions are short-term biased

Our emotions are obsessed with the present moment because it’s difficult to look past our immediate fears and anxieties. And this prevents good decision-making.

The sweet spot in de...

“Risky” behavior you should consider
  • Propose “moonshot” ideas, knowing that 90% of them will get shot down, but that if one of them gets accepted, it will be a huge boost to your career.
  • Be excessively bold in your dating life, stating exactly who and what you want.
  • Buy difficult books expecting that most of them won’t be useful to you, but also that, occasionally, one will completely change your life.
  • Say yes to every invitation knowing that most of the events/people will be boring, but that occasionally you’ll meet someone really interesting.
Optimizing life for fewer regrets

Most of us are afraid of messing thing up. But we rarely ask, “Would I regret that failure?” If the answer is “no,” then that is absolutely a risk you should pursue.

Sometimes, the right decision becomes crystal clear when put into these terms.

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A checklist for faster, better decisions
  • Write down 3 existing company goals impacted by the decision;
  • Write down at least 3 realistic alternatives;
  • Write down the most important information you...
Pretend You're Advising a Friend

Think outside yourself a little and pretend like you're offering advice. 

The reasoning here is really simple: your short-term emotions get in the way of decisions, and that clouds yo...

Limit The Information You Take In

We usually believe that the more information you have, the better decisions we can make. However, at some point, we cross a threshold where we have too much information. That's when we start to fill in gaps and add weight to information that doesn't matter. 

This makes decision making way more difficult.

Reverse Your Assumptions

You're so prone to continue making the same kind of choices throughout your life that challenging yourself and doing the exact opposite is often the best way to get around this problem. 

The idea here is to confront your default behavior, step outside your comfort zone, and use your imagination to test some completely new ideas.

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Work on the right decision

The way you frame your decision at the outset can make all the difference. 

State your decision problems carefully, acknowledge their complexity and avoid unwarranted assumptions ...

Specify your objectives

A decision is a means to an endAsk yourself what you most want to accomplish and which of your interests, values, concerns, fears, and aspirations are most relevant to achieving your goal.

Decisions with multiple objectives cannot be resolved by focusing on any one objective.

Create imaginative alternatives

Your decision can be no better than your best alternative.

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The perfect nudge

Nudging involves gently coaxing someone into a decision or behavior. The successful nudge is one that results in the desired choice or behavior without the person realizing any external influenc...

Multiple systems of the mind

The mind seems to involve various simple systems throughout the body that are not always in agreement. Some systems are shortsighted, some care about relationships, and some prioritize the future of humanity.

We are not always aware of each mechanism. Sometimes we make decisions carefully and other times intuitively.

Nudging methods
  • Highlighting the decisions of others you consider influential. Reading “Most other guests staying at this hotel reuse towels,” may make you feel compelled to align your behavior with the majority.
  • “Injunctive norms” focus on how one should act in a particular situation. “Reusing towels meets a high standard for environmental responsibility,” highlights self-imposed standards. It involves a belief about right and wrong that consider abstract concepts.

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Default options

Deciding is too much effort so we’re likely to just stick with the default or safer option if it’s already been chosen for us. 

When we get offered too many choices, the same...

Best decision making happens in the morning

This is when serotonin is at it’s natural high, which helps to calm our brain. Thus, we feel less risk averse and so we can face risks and make harder choices.

The part our bodies play in decision-making

If we’re feeling hunger, thirst or sexual desire, that can actually spill over into the decision areas of our brains, making us feel more desire for big rewards when we make choices. 

This can lead us to make higher-risk choices and to want for more.

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2,000 decisions per waking hour

Research has shown that the typical person makes about 2,000 decisions every waking hour. Most are minor ones and we make them automatically. But many have serious consequences.

That's why...

Decision fatigue

Our ability to perform mental tasks and make decisions wears thin when it’s repeatedly used.

Identify the most important decisions you need to make, and, as often as possible, prioritize your time so that you make them when your energy levels are highest.

A steady state of distraction

Our brains process five times as much information today as in 1986. Thus, many of us live in a continuous state of distraction and struggle to focus. 

To counter this, find time each day to unplug and step back from email, social media and news.

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Milton Friedman

"The best measure of quality thinking is your ability to accurately predict the consequences of your ideas a..."

Milton Friedman
Think in Years, Not Days

Before jumping to a conclusion, think about the long-term consequences of your decision.

We may respect those able to fling themselves into a hard problem and make a quick choice with seemingly little thought, but making a meaningful decision needs to be done with care for the long-term effects.

Understand Decision Fatigue

It’s important to be aware of what state of mind you’re in before tackling a hard choice.

Decision fatigue happens when the mental energy required to weigh the tradeoffs of our decision becomes too much for us to handle. 

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Information and decision making

The fact that we live in an age of information should allow us to make super-informed, data-driven decisions all the time.

But the widespread availability of information does no...

Snap judgments

Individuals fail to anticipate how little information they and others use when making decisions.

An the immediacy of human judgment generally surprises people: we are startled by how quickly we make judgments and how little information we use doing so.

Snap judgments

We fail to anticipate how little information we (and others) use when making decisions.

The immediacy of human judgment generally surprises people: we are startled by how quickly we make judgments and how little information we use doing so.

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