Human beings face several needs on a daily basis: eating, clothing, expressing ourselves, feeling achieved… Many of these are actually born from a greater need, the one of deciding. We are constantly forced to make decisions – what to eat, what to wear, what words to use to express ourselves, what to do to be happy.
Some of these scenarios are simple, and become much simpler if less options are available from which to choose. But some others are quite tricky, complex; there are even some that depend so highly on the context that we seem incoherent beings, without own personality. How to be sure to always choose the right way? What things matter when deciding?
To begin with, it would be interesting to discuss if each of us possess a real capacity to decide. Meaning, if each of us can decide between A or B, only due to the fact of being thinking human beings. A quick analysis would say that yes, each of us have the ability to make our own choices; no one else decides for us since each of us have the cognitive capacity to perform all kinds of analysis before making a good decision. Right? There are clear examples: unless you have a profound psychological complex and it is your mother who decides for you what you should wear at 35, you can decide what to wear every morning. Whatever you don’t like, you leave and you just wear what makes you shine.
But, what if you did not have clothes of your own, and you could only wear temporarily borrowed ones? May be there is nothing you like or nothing that fits from what is available, but you still have to choose if you don’t want to walk around naked. Surely, even what you don’t like from your own wardrobe now seems like an excellent idea. And if everything was like this, there would not be decisions 100% proper to each of us; they would all be decisions biased from the context. Fortunately, not all of them are like this example; but there are more than one may imagine. This leads us to think: how difficult it is to make the right choice! All that one believes to be true about oneself may be completely altered by something as arbitrary as a context.
What happens when decisions are not based on trivial acts? To choose what to wear every day is, let’s face it, a minor example. What goes through our head when we must choose between two job positions, or where to go on holidays? If there’s a choice to make: how make the right one?
Experts in Economy, Psychology and in Sociology are surely ready to answer, showing off their notes, books and papers. There are pragmatic approaches, by which the cost and benefit of each action is measured, virtually scaled and a course of action is determined on its result. This means, the difference in net salary, material benefits, tax implications; or the difference in plane tickets, accommodation and excursions. There are also social factors: prestige, the possibility of leading a group of people, the right to make decisions; or the chance to get more followers on Instagram, the quality of people, the number of tourists…
But there is one approach that must not be overlooked, and it is probably one of the most important ones: the feelings approach. Because hundreds of theories may exist, but there is nothing more worthy than respecting what each of us feel, nothing more loyal and truthful that the feelings that are born inside each of us. Influenced by the context or not, a good decision will always be the one that respects the feeling of he who decides. If one is happy without changing jobs, or one is joyful with just going on holiday to a simple quiet beach instead of heading for Rio de Janeiro, then that is the only thing that counts. We must stop confusing decision with result. If the present job turned out to be tedious after two years that does not mean that the decision was the wrong one. If it rained two weeks in a row at the quiet, simple beach it does not imply that it was a bad call. It just does not. It went wrong, that’s all.
A good choice is the result of knowing oneself and respecting one’s feelings. Yes, all the macroeconomic, microeconomic, psicopedagogic or religious analysis may be performed. And yes, there is an influence from the context. But have the courage to take the leap and jump from doubt to the right choice, is an unmistakably, univocally human odyssey.
A bad choice can only arise in one way: not knowing oneself is more than enough. There are those who state that human beings are not able to master the challenge of making proper decisions, as Dan Ariely explains in the following video. You, who are reading, what do you think?