Posts Tagged “Mental Clarity”

Why Are We Doing This, Anyway?

When I was in grade school, I was well, um, different. I am not sure what else to say about it. I was not a total geek –well, i’m at least fairly sure I wasn’t. lol!

I just didn’t have that one thing that I was “all about.” And, I was much to non-conformist to really hang tight with the popular crowd.

I can remember thinking over and over, “Why are we doing this? It seems so stupid.” when it came to the social cliques. However, it sure did not seem like anyone around me was asking those questions, or if they were, they were keeping it to themselves.

Anyway, the questioning has persisted through to adulthood. It is still just too easy for me to ask the question, “Why?” And along the way, I have learned that this can be an amazingly powerful question.

The more you are caught up in the rat race the harder it is to ask the question “Why?”. You just don’t have enough time. That is why the question why is favored by children and philosophers – those with time enough to ponder rather then just act.

As Allen Watts says, “a philosopher is nothing more than a yokel who walks around staring at things that other people think are totally commonplace.”

Well let’s take a page from his book for a minute.

I have written a lot about what I think is important and the power of caring more but why are we doing this? I am not even just talking about your work. I want you to ask this about your whole life.

When was the last time you asked yourself “Why have I chosen the life that I have?”

And then take it one step further, what is the BIG point? Why are you here? Why are you conscious and aware? And, why do you choose to stay that way, become more so, or even become less so?

If you can’t answer these questions with an answer, and an answer that you feel proud of, then I can bet you that you are not as happy or as successful as you would like to be.


Don’t Be Tricked by These 5 Common Mental Rules of Thumb.

One of my favorite topics within cognitive science is the concept of heuristics. Heuristics are the quick, commonsense principles we apply to solve a problem or make a decision.

Often, heuristics are very helpful rules of thumb, but they can also lead us to make dumb mistakes. Recognizing how heuristics operate can sometimes make it easier to be wary of the pitfalls.

Here are some common heuristics:

Recognition heuristic: if you’re faced with two items, and you recognize one but not the other, you assume that the recognized one is of higher value. If you’ve heard of Munich, Germany, but you’ve never heard of Minden, Germany, you assume that Munich is the bigger city. If you’ve heard of A Wrinkle in Time, but you haven’t heard of The Silver Crown, you assume that the first book is better than the second. When in fact they’re both outstanding children’s books!

Likelihood heuristic: you predict the likelihood of an event based on how easily you can think of an example. How worried should you be about child abduction by a stranger? What’s riskier, donating a kidney or having your gallbladder removed?

Anchor and adjust heuristic: you base an answer too heavily on some piece of first information. If someone says, “How old is Woody Allen? Twenty-five?” you’d probably guess his age to be younger than you would if someone said, “How old is Woody Allen? Ninety-five?” even though you know that both suggestions are incorrect.

Social proof: if you’re not sure about something, you assume that you should be guided by what other people are doing. You’re wondering whether to sign up for my monthly newsletter, which features highlights from the blog and Facebook. You’re not sure, but when I say, “157,000 people subscribe to it,” you think, “Yes, I do want to sign up!” You can sign up here. (End of blatant self-promotion.)

Fluency heuristic: if it’s easier to say or think something, it seems more valuable. For instance, an idea that’s expressed in a rhyming phrase seems more convincing than the same idea paraphrased in a non-rhyming phrase. When I decided to spend some time every weekend crossing long-delayed, horrible items off my to-do list, I considered calling that time my To-Do List Time, but then switched the name to Power Hour. Much more compelling.

How about you? Do you have any examples of how you’ve used these heuristics, or other heuristics that you employ?

reblogged from Gretchen Rubin’s site www.happiness-project.com/