What I’ve Learned From TED Talks

My decision making classes don’t start until the New Year, so for now I’ve decided to work on improving myself using information readily available on the Internet. What’s the best way to do that? I think inspirational videos are actually the way to go. Bonne chance to me, right? Someone turned me onto TED Talks some time ago, and I’ve tried to watch one or two each day. Here are a few of my favorites (on topic).

Ruth Chang studies decision making for a living, so she knows a little bit about how to make the right ones. She suspects that we all understand that good decision making is steeped in rational thought. But she also believes that we’re insane if we believe that we only make decisions based on specific reasons. One of the reasons we have trouble making decisions is because we have so many options, many of which seem rational. It’s harder to decide when some decisions aren’t inherently “bad.” Of course, none of that stops some of us from making bad decisions.

In line with that is Barry Schwartz’s belief that we should figure out what our options are — and then limit them to just one or two. We’re only human, and so we like having a lot of options. But the truth is, we don’t need many. Have too many? More than likely, you’ll actually be less content as you go along. It’s more likely that you’ll fail to see a bad option in the mix.

According to Sheena Iyengar, we need objectivity before we can make a good decision about the options we have. For most people, objectivity just happens to be the biggest problem. The first step? Take those options one by one, and make a list of pros and cons. Try not to let our opinions on what would make us the happiest factor into the list. When we have the list, everything might be more likely to fall into place.