Three Tips for Making Better Decisions
By understanding how our brain makes decisions, we can learn to make better choices and improve our lives
Have you ever made a decision that you later look back on and regret? Or find yourself wondering, “Why on earth did I do that?” This happens when we’re not aware of how we make decisions.
And that’s odd because the decisions we make, or in many cases not make, shape the outcome of lives. But many of us don’t know how we make decisions.
By understanding how our brain makes decisions, we can learn to make better choices and improve our lives. In his book, The Brain, neuroscientist David Eagleman explains how our minds work when we make a decision:
“When faced with a decision, our brains simulate different outcomes to generate a mockup of what our future might be. Mentally, we can disconnect from the present moment and voyage to a world that doesn’t yet exist.”
Eagleman adds that the brain doesn’t function like a computer; It doesn’t run several programs to achieve a certain decision. Instead, it functions more like a council where different mental and physiological factors compete against one another to take control.
For example, let’s say you’re deciding how to spend your afternoon: Should you watch your favorite Netflix show? Go out with friends? Take a nap? Do a bit of work?
A part of your brain would encourage you to watch Netflix or go out with friends and family. Another part argues you’re tired and should take a nap, while several others say you should get some work done to be more productive.
What happens next? You argue and barter with yourself. You might say, “I’ll skip Netflix because I haven’t gone out with people I care about lately. And since it’s the weekend, I’ll ignore work and have fun. I’ll just go to bed earlier so I won’t be too tired.”
This is what most of us do. And it’s draining! It’s no wonder many of us tend to overthink things and become indecisive in the process. So how can we make better decisions?