One of my favorite ways to learn is to listen to podcasts and read blogs about personal growth. Occasionally, there are some concepts that catch my attention and then my INTJ brain yearns to learn. Although some concepts are an interesting side read, sometimes I find myself comparing them against my own behaviors and views.
Confirmation Bias is the tendency to seek out and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs, while giving less consideration to alternative possibilities.
For example, consider the topic of gun control. The person that supports gun control seek out stories and opinions that reaffirm a need to limit gun ownership. When stories from the media are released concerning a shooting, it’s interpreted in a way to support the existing belief of limiting gun ownership.
On the other hand, someone who opposes gun control seeks out stories and opinions that align with their position. When those same stories from the media are released, this person tends to interprets them in a way that supports their view.
It’s easy to fall prey and cherry-pick information that confirms one’s views. However, it’s important to remain open during any discussion or debate. What is known or believed may be inaccurate or incomplete. Examine each side of the story. Not only will this lead to making more well informed decisions, it’s also key to understanding and comparing personal views.
Optimism bias causes a person to believe that they are less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others. For example, people may believe that they are less at risk of being a victim of a crime, or that their chances of developing a disease is less then everyone else regardless of empirical evidence.
Optimism is a valuable tool that goes above and beyond being positive. Optimism helps one take chances, explore new ideas, and learn about different concepts. Staying positive generates positive energy that flows into the task at hand. Consequently, this usually results in a better learning experience, more successful outcome, and a sense of appreciation in mind, body, heart, and soul.
Unfortunately, being optimistic may influence a bias toward one’s self, especially when it relates to positive outcomes. Weigh all the facts, reflect on personal experiences, and be truthful about your skills and abilities. These are the tools we have when making decisions to defy the odds.
Sunk Cost Fallacy
A sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred and cannot be recovered. This cost can be money, time, or resources. People have an aversion to loss or being wrong, and sometimes make irresponsible choices in order to avoid those loses.
For example, a person wants to start a new business. They hire a consultant for $2000 to investigate the pros and cons of their business model. The person also spend many hours doing their own research. The consultant concludes that the market is in decline and the business will likely fail. However, if the person doesn’t move forward, that $2000 and time spent researching would be wasted. So, they decide to move forward anyway.
The point is to recognize when it’s time to cut one’s losses. Putting more time and energy into these situations is simply a waste and any lesson worth learning is lost. The right thing to do is recognize the situation, stop it from getting worse, learn from it, and move on.
Mindfulness is the psychological process of being attentive to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment. I have a tendency to draw upon past experiences and assess them for future outcomes. As events unfold in the present, they are sometimes observed but lost due to the focus on the end goal.
Now, I frequently ask myself a few simple questions. Why am I doing this? What do I expect to happen? Can I do this better next time? Is this really necessary?
It invaluable to have moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and surroundings. Also, strive to accept these feelings without judging whether they are right or wrong. They provide additional feedback to the overall objectives, and makes long term projects and tasks more enjoyable by including the journey as part of the experience.
Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by a person, after a long session of decision making. As one makes more decisions throughout the day, the inability to make trade-offs increases, they make irrational decisions or avoid making decisions altogether.
Marketers and sales strategists recognize this concept and use it to their advantage. For example, a person decides to buy a new laptop. The sales person asks questions and talks about the pros and cons of different models. After answering questions and considering their options, the person decides which laptop to buy. Then, the sales person tries to sell additional features that the person doesn’t necessarily need such as a bigger screen, more memory, or additional coverage beyond the manufacturer’s warranty. At this point, the person is more likely to agree to these upgrades because of the time and energy just spent answer questions and comparing laptops.
On the other hand, someone may decide against buying a laptop after going to great lengths talking to a sales person and comparing different laptops. Why? Because there are simply an overwhelming number of choices and options.
Every day decisions must be made about minutiae things such as what to wear or eat, to life changing decisions concerning careers, relationships, or finances. Recognizing when Decision Fatigue is occurring can help mitigate bad decision making. For me, continuing to minimize my mental and physical clutter helps reduce choices and focus decisions to what matters instead of wasting them on trivial concerns.
Procrastination is avoiding a task by doing more enjoyable things in its place, thus putting something off for a later time. It’s an admirable trait to cross off those to-dos from the list and staying on top of things as quickly and efficiently as possible.
However, there can be positive aspects to procrastination. Procrastination can help slow down and think more deeply about something before acting. Sometimes acting too quickly can kill good ideas or mindlessly address a problem. Allowing oneself to think about something for a period of time keeps the mind active and working on it internally, even if indirectly. The mind accumulates new ideas, points, and counterpoints during this time. Then when its time to tackle the task, those thoughts and ideas come back and can help lead to a better outcome.
Positive procrastination can be useful in all sorts of situations like writing a blog, researching a project, or making a big life decision. Deadlines are important, but utilizing any available time to make the best decision possible may reap additional rewards.
Concepts in Daily Practice
After practicing positive procrastination and self reflection, these concepts helped reshape my thinking and changed me for the better. Now when I go about my day, I recognize when I’m leaning toward preconceived views and practices. I’m more in the moment and aware when something is going nowhere, working well, or needs adjustments.
These 6 concepts have made me more aware of how I live and interact with others on a daily basis. I find that recognizing these biases and concepts leads to more meaningful living and better outcomes on the things I consider important. I encourage everyone to take a step back and reflect on how these concepts may help in their own daily lives. Who knows, they may change you for the better.