Thursday, 12 January 2012

Decisions, Decisions....

I've been thinking a lot about the way that people make decisions lately.  Why do humans do the things we do?  A lot of it seems pretty dumb and self-destructive.  Usually pretty obviously so, too.  So what makes us decide that something is a good idea?

Typically, I find it very easy to make decisions.  Most of the choices I've had to deal with in life have been self-evident to me, even if they've made almost NO sense to anyone else.  In hindsight a lot of my decisions have maybe been pretty bad, but for the most part I'd make the same choices in the same situation if I had to do it again.  Any given decision I've made in the past was what made the most sense to me at the time and had the best chance of achieving my agenda given the information in my possession at the time of the choice.  As a matter of fact, I can only think of two choices I've made that I would change, and if I changed the first one it would eradicate the circumstances surrounding the second.  Of course, my agenda isn't always clear to everyone.  Occasionally people think I am trying to achieve something that I am not.  It's hard for me to explain how my brain functions.  My goals are often fairly abstract.  But I digress...

My interest today is in the decision-making process.  I wonder how most people go about making decisions?  I suspect most, myself included, would claim to weigh the pros and cons, judge what they are trying to achieve and what it might cost, perhaps get the opinions of some trusted advisers, and eventually, carefully and analytically, after worrying and stressing for some time, after trying to peer into the future and glean some hint of what path is most beneficial to them, finally decide what to do.  

I also suspect that most people, myself included, are fooling themselves when they claim that the above is their decision making process.  I am starting to think, more and more, that this is simply the rationalization process.  I suspect most people know exactly what their decision is, or at least what they WANT it to be, in the first couple of seconds after being presented with a choice.  All of the analysis and stress and sleepless nights are simply a way for your brain to talk (or perhaps trick) itself into believing that the choice you want is really truly the RIGHT choice.  Your brain wants you to believe that this choice, made subconsciously and instantaneously, is really for the's the smartest choice...definitely not a huge mistake.

Which of course it may or may not be.  There's no way to know for sure until you try it.  Odds are, in the big scheme of things, it won't matter much one way or the other.  It'll likely just move you further down the path you were going along anyway. 

I don't know if the above is true or not.  Are our decisions based on logic and thought, or are they really just instinctual?  I'm not sure, but I'm leaning towards instinctual.  Every other creature on this planet acts to it's nature...we must as well!  Just consider the scorpion.  Then if this is true, doesn't it mean that most of our actions are preordained, not because of some mystical destiny or fate, but rather just because being who we are we couldn't possibly have made any other decision anyway?  Preordained due to the laws of probability and human nature.  Even though we bear the trappings of free will, we really have very little control over what we decide.  Whatever choice we make is based on our own nature and rests atop all of the other choices we've made in our lives.  It makes our actions practically inevitable.  Fait accompli!

Having said that, I still don't know if it's true.  Maybe it's true unless we struggle to rise above it and seize control of ourselves?  An interesting idea...I'll think about it.  In either case, whether this idea is true or whether it's just a strange idea, I still strongly believe in personal responsibility and accountability.  Does that make me a hypocrite?  If so, I can't help's in my nature!!

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