Helping you to think better

This is a short article introducing you to why it's important to improve your thinking and the approach we use to get you to think better

Introduction: The Importance of Decision Making

I’m going to ask you this: when was the last time you didn’t know what to do? It’s worrying that most of us believe we know what to do most of the time because we often go about our daily lives without thinking much. Unfortunately, this assumption doesn’t always guarantee that we’re making the right decisions.

Psychologists and sociologists emphasize that much of our behaviour is predictable. It’s only when we become aware of what lies beneath the surface of our thinking that we can gain the insight needed to think more critically about the decisions we make in our lives.

Our lives are shaped by the decisions we have made in the past, and the decisions we make now have a direct impact on the future. If we desire to change our lives, it logically follows that we need to invest time in learning how to change our thinking, especially if we want to make better decisions that positively influence our future selves.

Dual Process Theory: Two Ways of Making Decisions

One theory about decision-making is the Dual Process Theory, which suggests that we make decisions in two ways:

  1. Fast, unconscious (Type 1) decisions that are impulsive and automatic.
  2. Slow, conscious (Type 2) decisions that involve reasoned thinking.

If we examine all the decisions we make in a single day, research shows that up to 90% of them are fast, unconscious Type 1 decisions. These decisions are often our automatic, habitual responses that happen impulsively due to our ingrained patterns. Since we are creatures of habit, we tend to repeat these same decisions day in and day out.

Type 1 decisions originate from instinct, repetitive habits, and innate survival responses. They mainly occur below our conscious awareness, are fast and impulsive, and are susceptible to cognitive biases—errors in our thinking that lead to poor decision-making.

On the other hand, Type 2 thinking involves conscious, reasoned thinking. It requires deliberate effort and analytical thought processes when solving a problem.

Mental Shortcuts: Heuristics and Cognitive Biases

The challenge with Type 2 thinking is that it is mentally exhausting and slow. We can’t solely rely on it to navigate our lives because it would overwhelm us. If we had to analyze every task one step at a time and consider all alternatives, we would likely never leave the house in the morning.

To cope with this, we mentally speed up our Type 2 thinking and make it less taxing. Through repetition and practice, we develop mental shortcuts or “heuristics” that resemble Type 1 thinking. These heuristics help us complete semi-complex tasks more easily and quickly. It’s similar to the saying, “he’s done it so many times he could do it in his sleep.”

We construct these cognitive shortcuts constantly. For example, if I ask you what 7 multiplied by 7 equals, you would hopefully and almost instantly say 49. You likely didn’t add up each 7 or engage in lengthy arithmetic. Instead, you consciously employed a mental shortcut to arrive at the answer. We rely on these heuristics every day to simplify and speed up many tasks while reducing mental strain.

When our thinking goes awry, it’s often due to Type 1 thinking being influenced by cognitive biases or using the wrong mental shortcuts to speed up our Type 2 decisions.

Cognitive Biases and Success Heuristics

There’s a pattern to a lot of the cognitive biases that cause us to make poor decisions, and there is a predictable irrationality in our decision-making. Cognitive biases are sometimes also called a deviation away from what seems like common sense. I particularly see these biases affecting a person’s thinking particularly when they are stuck in a problem or when they are stuck in life.

I also see people use the wrong shortcuts and heuristics when they try and think themselves out of their problem. Their learned responses to life situations are just not good enough. They haven’t the experience, the training, they’ve not learned what to do, or they just haven’t got the mental conditioning needed to process that particular problem. They don’t have what I call Success Heuristics;

Success Heuristics are the mental shortcuts and patterns of thinking that successful people consistently use to improve their lives.

Overriding Destructive Patterns of Thinking

Our courses introduce you to the cognitive biases that hold people back in life. By giving you real-life examples of how poor thinking leads people mentally astray, you can learn to consciously scan your thoughts so that you don’t fall into the same trap too.

More importantly, we can consciously override these distorted thinking patterns and make better-unbiased decisions instead. The courses also give you some examples of success heuristics i.e. the really good mental shortcuts that you can employ in difficult situations to get a better result.

We can always benefit from overriding and decoupling (this is another word psychologists use) some of our hard-wired and hard-learned patterns of thinking especially the ones that are causing destructive behaviour patterns.

The cognitive bias which is giving you the most problem depends on the individual, I’d say it’s almost always a combination of many that could be causing you an issue. It also depends on the problems you are facing, your stress levels, and the environment you are in at the time, and the same goes for mental shortcuts. The success heuristic that is going to help you the most is also dependent on the situation you are in and the problems you are facing.

Our articles and courses will give you some real-life examples of the biased thinking patterns that commonly hold people back when they get stuck in life, and also the examples of where better mental shortcuts and heuristics can make a real difference in your life.

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