How do we make decisions?

Decision making is definitely the most important skill in age of endless choices, But how we make decisions? Have we ever wonder about it?

By large there are two ways people make decisions.

  1. Based on Comfort and Convenience.
  2. Based on Value of Anything.

At first glance all of us feel we know it and we are able to differentiate between two categories. But if we observe all our past decisions with impartial eyes and without strong identity, we will realise how effectively we made decisions. The only checklist required to measure the effectiveness is, “Apply reality check on it with brutal honesty”.

First category consists many types of comfort. Need to explore each of them in brief.

  1. Physiological Comfort

It’s about material comforts in our life. Till certain level, material comforts is necessary because it frees our mind for other important tasks of human life. But beyond that, looking just for physiological comfort is not much rewarding in life. For Example, There are two options. 5 start hotel stay with your friend or meeting with multimillionaire in ordinary hotel. Those who emphasise physiological comfort will choose the first option because it has better material comfort.

  1. Psychological Comfort

It’s about the mental shortcuts for which our brain is hardwired. Our brain is not wired and evolved enough to handle the complexities of modern world. It wants to reach to conclusions as soon as possible. It don’t want the mental gymnastic which is required to understand things on its own merit.

Our brain is evolved to avoid pain and seek pleasure. Mental shortcuts helps to avoid mental pain which comes with thinking broadly. Due to shortcuts, it reach to conclusions very quickly which gives pleasurable sensations. Those shortcuts are known are Cognitive Biases. It makes us feel good about ourselves that we understood something very quickly.

“Thinking is Difficult,That’s Why Most People Judge”
 -Carl Jung 

  1. Social Comfort

This one is the most dominant factor in our life. Consciously or unconsciously we are seeking social validations in different forms. Mostly all our major decision of life are driven by social pressure. We feel left behind when our peers and friends are moving ahead in certain areas of life.

There are two areas which has large influence of social validation. Career decision and Marriage. Though it’s hard to accept this fact but most people had made this decision due to societal streaming. If they don’t flow in that stream, they will face social frictions. and to avoid that social friction, they made choices to seek other’s validation.

  1. Emotional Comfort

Pampering of our insecurity and Seeking sympathy for our weakness. This two emotions are most dominating habit in our psyche. It’s not the question about right or wrong, being emotional is good or bad. It’s about becoming aware about which emotions are dominating our behaviour and from where it is coming from. Are those emotions are coming out of deeply suppressed trauma, unconscious tendencies or biological reaction?

Because the only thing which prevent us to see reality exactly as it is without any bias is, our Emotion. Mostly it’s about looking things through our ‘Victim Mindset’. Our emotion use victim lenses to comprehend reality. That victimhood always use our intelligence to pamper our insecurity and to create stories to sympathise our weaknesses.

Second category consists only one thing, Broader Understanding of Things.

Broader Understanding of things comes with initial pain, trial-error, experimentation, exploration and most importantly open-mindedness. This category people have clear priorities in life. They know what actually matters in life. Based on broader understanding, one get clears about what holds more value in his life.

Health, Wealth, Happiness, Fulfilment, Peace and Freedom, Spiritual Growth or whatever they perceive as important element in life.

For all those things, there is always initial pain. To remain healthy, exercise or Yoga is necessity. But both of them will give initial discomfort on physiological and psychological level.

To gain wealth and remain wealthy, skills and knowledge is necessity. To constantly update skills and knowledge, curious & learning oriented mind is required. But to develop that mindset there is emotional and social discomfort one has to go through.

Creating the life of fulfilment, freedom and peace is a result of living life of Authenticity. But living life of authenticity in society of hypocrisy is considered as Anti-social movement. There is lot of initial discomfort to create that life.

Matured intelligence always lean towards this second category. It always see value of thing before making choice.

Choices affects our life meaningfully in two fronts. Internal as well as external.

In long run, Second category people triumphs. Because on external front, Economics is governing major aspects of life. And most important factor of economics is “Valuation”. Entire effort of startup world is to march towards higher valuation. Entire equity market is based upon valuation of companies.

On internal front, Most intuitive experience of life is meaningful and purposeful living. If one is not living for something which is most valuable for him, there will always be strong feeling of lack and inferiority. Making choice based on what is valuable for us is hard track, but there is nothing more valuable to live our life for.

If choices we make are not going to create value by any means, reward of that choice is sooner going to be worthless. Period. One might get short term gratification in form of any of four comfort mentioned, but eventually its going to loose its charm.

If it entertains you now but will bore you someday, Its distraction.
-Naval Ravikant

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