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How do we make better decisions in life?

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

Have you ever wondered what happens inside your brain? How does this brain of yours make millions of decisions in a day, some consciously some unconsciously. The need to decide is never ending. Even when you are thinking not to think, that is also a decision that you are making.

You might think that you have only one brain in your skull but there are actually two: The Feeling Brain and the Thinking Brain

Have you encountered this situation?

I won’t smoke today. Or maybe I will stop doing it from tomorrow?

Wait. What just happened there?

While your thinking brain tells you that smoking is bad your feeling brain convinces you to still have it as it gives you joy. These two sides of the brain are always competing and typically call upon either side depending on a lot of factors.

The fact of the matter is your feeling brain is faster and more powerful than your thinking brain. You can’t be rational if you are too emotional, but at the same time you can’t be rational if you are not emotional. For example, when you are sad, you end up eating a lot of cookies or smoking cigarettes even though you are aware of its adverse effects on your health.

The feeling brain is fast, intuitive and emotional while the thinking brain is slow, analytical, systematic and impartial.

Why am I telling you all this?

If you need to make better decisions in life, you need to know which part controls it.

The world we live in today involves a lot of emotional decision making because our thinking brain sometimes can’t handle all the stress that comes with making calculated choices.

If you become aware of your emotions, you have a benefit of correcting many emotional biases.

If you are mindful of your emotions, you can identify which decisions can be addressed rationally vs emotionally.

Your feeling brain is fooling you to eat all those cookies just to make you feel good. When you are aware of this fact, you can make a rational decision if you really want to eat them or not.

Here are my learnings which have helped me make better decisions in life.

  1. Focusing on non transactional things: We run after transactional things, basically things that can be bought with money. By doing so, we forget the things which make us truly happy — Good relationships, meaningful work, healthy mind and healthy body. These are the most important things in life and help improve our emotional happiness which impacts all decisions we make in life.

  2. Embracing Pain: If I look back in my life, growth and pain has always moved in parallel. It helped me get stronger. Avoiding pain has just made me weak and has impacted the decisions I made after that while embracing pain has brought in acceptance and growth in moving forward in life.

  3. Understanding what’s real freedom: We often fell into the trap of this concept of having everything which will give us freedom. While, the real freedom comes when you choose what you are willing to give up in your life. Few months back, I decided to give up on Instagram to put more focus to work. Here I am, writing a beautiful article and sharing my learnings.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”

-Theodore Roosevelt


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