how to make easier decisions

Posted on April 5th, 2011

I love this article on why easy decisions are so hard by the ludicrously young and authentic Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide and Proust was a Neuroscientist. I’ve mentioned it here on this blog a lot…that I struggle to make the simplest of decisions, like what toothpaste to buy. And other such”first-world problems”. (As an aside, for thyroid disease folk…indecision is a very AI trait).

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I loved, mostly, how Jonah confesses that he’s crap at making toothpaste decisions, too, despite being an expert on how we decide. He picks the research apart and finds that we stall with dumb decisions because we allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking they’re important decisions simply because they’ve been made complicated (mostly by too many options):

“Call it the drug store heuristic: A cluttered store shelf leads us to automatically assume that a choice must really matter, even if it doesn’t.”

The analysis paralysis makes us think the decision is important…which intensifies the paralysis. And around and around we go. It’s a very real issue for more of us. We’re bombarded with more stupid options daily.

This is how I simplify decisions?

  • Narrow your choices. Actively. Read more

how to build a better blog (part 2-ish)

Posted on November 12th, 2010

One day I started a blog. I didn’t know where it would head. I spewed forth and it grew like a virus. I just wanted to share things.

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Like all things with technology, it moved faster than I was able to adjust. So, truth be known, it’s not really what I thought it would be. But, then, it’s exactly what it needs to be. ‘Cos here it is.

I thought about doing a mass overhaul, to get it ship-shape (redesign, get it looking less “young”, change the name to…a real blog name!). But instead I’ve opted for gentle shifts.

On Wednesday I posted about how I hired a virtual assistant to help with my blog. They’ve kindly decided to offer everyone a discount on Freelancer – three project posts for free! When you register, use this code: “SARAH”. They’re also answering any questions you might have on the post.

Today, though, I want to share two other services I totally dig: Read more

sunday life: the secret to happiness (a chat with Gretchen Rubin)

Posted on August 15th, 2010

This week I get happy…close to home

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Gretchen Rubin calls it her “Beautiful House” moment. As in, “This is not my beautiful house”, the existential lament from the Talking Heads hit “Once in a Lifetime”. Gretchen’s life was ticking along just fine. She had a beautiful house. Two kids. And all the rest. But she woke one day with that feeling of discontent and disbelief and asked, Is this it? Is this me?

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It wasn’t. There was more she yearned for and so she set off on The Happiness Project, which launched – as everything does these days – as a blog in March 2006. I’ve been following it for years, often somewhat bewildered by the Cartesian precision with which she pulls apart the bumbling ways we humans happen upon happiness. She’s written thousands of posts over the course of her journey, attracting a monthly following of 300,000 readers. She’s a regular on the American morning TV circuit, contributes to the Huffington Post and has turned her findings into a number one bestselling book that sat on the New York Times list for 18 weeks (and it’s released her this month).

Sweet bonus on a Sunday: I’M GIVING AWAY THREE COPIES of the book today to three readers generous enough to share what they think makes human’s happy. A simple tip will do. I’ll get Gretchen to pick the winners!

Which begs: after such a long, imbedded journey, what’s the one take-home-wrapped-in-ribbon-with-warrantee trick that has resonated with her disciples? What, dear Gretchen, moves us beyond our beautiful house and makes us happy?

On Monday I posed this very question. Gretchen’s response down the phone from New York? You ready for it? Read more