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Problem Solving

91 SAVED IDEAS

Declinism

The belief that societies continue to decline is often linked with rosy retrospection - believing that the past was better and the future more negative.

Declinism can cloud your judgement and steer you toward bad decisions.

@jasonz17

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Problem Solving

  • Writer Jemina Lewis described memory bias as an emotional strategy, where we cling to the past when the present seems extremely bleak.
  • In the late 1700s, Edward Gibbons, an English historian and writer, published The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He argues that the Roman Empire collapsed because of a gradual loss of civic virtue among its citizens.
  • German historian and philosopher Oswald Spengler claimed that history witnesses the rise and fall of many civilisations and that decline is inevitable.

Illusions created by rosy retrospection can change our memories in ways that affect our current decisions.

  • Declinism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Constantly worrying about decline can be a good way to ensure it.
  • A rosy outlook on the past can cause us to ignore past errors and not learn from them. Combined with declinism, it may lead to repeating the same mistakes.
  • Beware of rosy retrospection. Keep in mind how biased our memories are. If the past experience is part of a present decision, consider discussing your memory with colleagues or friends.
  • Practice calculated optimism. Instead of predicting a dim future, explore potential areas of opportunity. The aim is to keep on being part of the game.
  • Focus on long-term success. Don't confuse a temporary problem as a huge challenge. We will have ups and downs. The only failure is not moving forward.
Humans rarely choose things in absolute terms

We don't have an internal value meter that tells us how much things are worth; we mostly focus on the relative advantage of one thing over another and estimate value accordingly.

For example, we don't know how much a six-cylinder car is worth, but we can assume it's more expensive than the four-cylinder model.)

We are always looking at the things around us in relation to others. We always compare jobs with jobs, vacations with vacations, lovers with lovers, and wines with wines.

We not only tend to compare things with one another but also tend to focus on comparing things that are easily comparable—and avoid comparing things that cannot be compared easily.

The decoy effect

It is a cognitive bias: we tend to have a specific change in preferences between two options when also presented with a third option that is asymmetrically dominated.

This is the secret agent in more decisions than we could imagine. It even helps us decide whom to date—and, ultimately, whom to marry.

The basic idea of arbitrary coherence is this: although initial prices are "arbitrary," once those prices are established in our minds they will shape not only present prices but also future prices.

Anchoring is a cognitive bias where an individual depends too heavily on an initial piece of information offered to make subsequent judgments during decision making.

Anchoring influences all kinds of purchases. Research found that people who move to a new city generally remain anchored to the prices they paid for housing in their former city.

We should pay particular attention to the first decision we make in what is going to be a long stream of decisions.

When we face such a decision, it might seem to us that this is just one decision, with little to no consequences; but in fact, the power of the first decision can have such a long-lasting effect that it will drip into our future decisions for years to come.

Why FREE! make us so happy

Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE ! we forget the downside, FREE ! gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.

And that is because humans are intrinsically afraid of loss. The real allure of FREE ! is tied to this fear. There's no visible possibility of loss when we choose a FREE ! item.

Corporations and social norms

Money is very often the most expensive way to motivate people. Social norms are not only cheaper but often more effective as well.

If corporations started thinking in terms of social norms they would realize that these norms build loyalty and—more important—make people want to extend themselves to the degree that corporations need today: to be flexible, concerned, and willing to pitch in. That's what a social relationship delivers.

Giving up on our long-term goals for immediate gratification, my friends, is procrastination.

Emotions grab hold of us and make us view the world from a different perspective. Procrastination is rooted in the same kind of problem. When we promise to save our money, we are in a cool state. But then the lava flow of hot emotion comes rushing in: just when we promise to save, we see a new car, a mountain bike, or a pair of shoes that we must have.

Why we fall for temptation

Without precommitments, we keep on falling for temptation. Resisting temptation and instilling self-control are general human goals, and repeatedly failing to achieve them is a source of much of our misery.

The struggle for control is all around us: books and magazines, the Radio and television airwaves are choked with messages of self-improvement and help. And yet, we find ourselves again and again in the same predicament: failing over and over to reach our long-term goals.

... and we usually don't make best decisions when it comes to it. Why? Because of three irrational quirks in our human nature:

  • We fall in love with what we already have.
  • We focus on what we may lose, rather than what we may gain.
  • We assume other people will see the transaction from the same perspective as we do.
We have an irrational compulsion to keep doors open

It's just the way we're wired. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to close them.

We need to drop out of committees that are a waste of our time. We ought to shut them because they draw energy and commitment away keeping doors open from the doors that should be left open—and because they drive us crazy.

A stereotype is a way of categorizing information, in the hope of predicting experiences. The brain cannot start from scratch at every new situation. It must build on what it has seen before. For that reason, stereotypes are not intrinsically malevolent.

They provide shortcuts in our never-ending attempt to make sense of complicated surroundings. But because a stereotype provides us with spécifie expectations about members of a group, it can also unfavorably influence both our perceptions and our behavior.

When expectations are useful

Expectations are more than the mere anticipation: they enable us to make sense of a conversation in a noisy room, despite the loss of a word here and there, and likewise, to be able to read text messages on our cell phones, despite the fact that some of the words are scrambled.

And although expectations can make us look foolish from time to time, they are also very powerful and useful.

Pablo Picasso
"Others have seen what is and asked why? I have seen what could be and asked why not?"
Albert Einstein
"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."
Ken Robinson
"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original."
Leo Burnett
"Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people."
Steve Jobs
"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while."
The Perils Of Multitasking

We all have limited time and unlimited things to do, and we try to juggle between work, personal projects, self-care and our social life. As we try to focus on what matters the most, we get in the web of complexities that come from managing a lot of important and competing tasks.

  • If we only focus on a single task, our responsiveness towards the demands of the world suffers.
  • If we are available to all and extremely responsive to what they need from us, our own progress suffers.

The word ‘multitask’ is actually a computer term invented by IBM in 1965, showcasing how a computer chip can handle multiple tasks at the same time.

According to psychiatrist Edward Hallowell, multitasking is a mythical construct of the mind, where we mistakenly believe we can effectively perform more than one task at the same time.

One has to find a balance between optimizing one’s own output while enabling our peers and collaborators to move forward.

Mindful context switching is a scientific way to carry on with your daily tasks in the most efficient manner while not being unresponsive to other matters that need your attention and input.

  1. Defining your level of responsiveness based on the kind of work being done.
  2. Design a realistic ‘chunk’ of work that is meaningful and feels like progress. Breaking down your work into chunks makes it easier and is a modular approach to the tasks at hand.
  3. Ensure that you plan your work calendar based on the broken-down chunks of work.
  4. Ensure you communicate your response times to others.
  5. Review your calendar and improvise on your workweek.

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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