In this week’s episode of Brain Games, host Jason Silva – with help from Yale professor and decision-making expert Dr. Daylian Cain – reveals the secrets behind decision making. Do you lean toward logic or intuition when it’s time to make a choice? Start by taking the challenge to find out. If you don’t like your results, don’t fret. There are ways to help adjust your decision making skills so that you make the best choice possible. Still can’t make up your mind? Try these tips:
Feeling overwhelmed with a decision? Perhaps you have been given too many choices. Some scientists think that information overload is actually a hindrance rather than a help. When there are too many choices in front of us, we may not be able to focus and reflect on which decision is the right one. Immediately remove as many options as you can up front, and then focus on just a few.
Maybe you only have to choose between two options and still can’t seem to make up your mind. This is not unusual. The science of the brain shows that when confronted with just two options, people may have trouble picking one unless they are offered a third option that falls somewhere in-between. Ask yourself if there is one more option you could throw into the mix, and if so, this can make it easier to decide on something you won’t regret.
Test Your Choice
Can’t decide because you are afraid to make the wrong choice? It may be difficult to choose if you are too close to the problem. Let your emotions rule, and you may make the worst possible decision. Ask a trusted friend about decisions he or she regretted and you are likely to hear that the choice was made in the grip of emotion. Whether angry, anxious, or full of desire, the more emotion, the less clear the decision. Regret can be avoided by imagining the future. Ask yourself how you would feel about each choice in a few minutes, a few months, or even a few years from now.
These tools will help you, but you should also know your mind. It turns out that our brains actually exercise two different decision-making processes. One of the systems is the one that we are consciously aware of when we’re making up our minds about something; it’s slow, requires effort, and relies upon rules. The other system, by contrast, makes quick decisions for us that are based upon mental shortcuts.
Ultimately, the best bet is making a decision, and not looking back. In the words of Jason Silva, be really zen about it. Whatever you choose is what you need to choose. Wherever you are is where you need to be. Whatever your choice is the right choice. That’s the best attitude to transcend the anxiety of choice paralysis and decision making.
Want to know more about the science of decision? Tune in to Brain Games: You Decide on Monday June 3 at 9 p.m. et/pt and find out more about how you decide and how to make better decisions.