Double or Nothing

“I often like to think in terms of these three options when I have a big decision to make.

I can call. I can maintain the status quo and keep my energy investment the same as before. I can raise. I can escalate the situation and put more energy into it. Or I can fold by exiting the situation…

…Most of the time you should be thinking: raise or fold. This is because when a choice seems difficult, it’s usually because the best option is to raise or fold, and you’re not sure which is best.

So if you find yourself at a crossroads, consider that you may really have just two viable options: raise or fold. Go big or go home…

When you’ve decided that it’s time to fold, you may have a tendency to keep asking yourself, But if I fold this hand, then what will I have left? If I fold my job, how will I pay my bills? If I fold my relationship, then who will love me again?

And the answer is simple. Just get back into the game, and you’ll be dealt a fresh hand. A fresh hand brings fresh hope. A weak hand doesn’t.”

-Steve Pavlina, “Call, Raise or Fold.” StevePavlina.com. January 30, 2020.

The Fourth Option

We always have three options.

  1. You can change it.
  2. You can accept it.
  3. You can leave it.

But, there’s a fourth option. 4. You can experience it.

Is experiencing something the same as accepting it? It isn’t.

The world is not static. Change is a constant. And, we are too busy reacting – choosing change, acceptance or escape – to be in the moment. We are choosing thinking about an experience over living it.

If we choose to experience a moment, then it means there is no room to try to change, agree or escape from it. All three are attempts to shape the experience to conform to our views and value judgments. When our minds, hearts and bodies are open to whatever that moment has to offer, there is no room for anything else. There is no room for thought.

The only thing that ever needs changing is our mind. Choose experiencing the moment over thinking about it, and you’ll change the world.

One and One Sometimes Equals Eleven

We often make assumptions that are reasonable in one context, abstract it into a guideline and apply that guideline to a new situation. Often, it is difficult to assess whether these situations are close enough to apply what we know to what we don’t.

At base, this is the problem of induction. There is no rational basis to argue from circumstances we have experienced to another situation we have not.

But, we’ve all done it. Life presents us with situations where we have to make an intuitive leap that is good enough to get us to a good outcome, better than if we made assumptions based on the probabilities of random chance. However, the post from today on How Not to be Stupid suggests elements that undermine our ability to make these intuitive leaps, such as:

  • We are applying it to something new. Hard to assess something that you have no experience with.
  • It is a high stress situation. When the stakes are high, it is easier to make mistakes.
  • We need to make a decision quickly. It’s just a form of stress.
  • We are invested in a particular outcome, i.e., it is hard to get someone to see something that their livelihood depends on them not seeing.
  • There is too much information to consider. When it is all noise and/or all signal it is difficult to figure out what to use to inform our intuitions and pare it down to what is essential.
  • There is social suasion in the form of individual and group dynamics that influence us in particular directions

When the whole enterprise is compromised, it is hard to realize when you have moved from a place to engage in reasonable guesswork and when you have come completely unmoored. The first indication that this is the case is when you are wrong more often than average, which means you need to track how well your decisions do and get feedback into your system. Otherwise, you might never realize the extent that you are cognitively compromised.

How Not to Be Stupid

“…stupidity is the cost of intelligence operating in a complex environment…

[Stupidity:] overlooking or dismissing conspicuously crucial information…

When it comes to overloading our cognitive brains, the seven factors are: being outside of your circle of competence, stress, rushing or urgency, fixation on an outcome, information overload, and being in the presence of an “authority.” Acting alone any of these are powerful enough, but together they dramatically increase the odds you are unaware that you’ve been cognitively compromised.

…if these factors are present, don’t make any important decisions.”

Interview with Adam Robertson in “How Not to Be Stupid.Farnam Street. January 2, 2019.

No Regrets

“VEDANTAM: I understand you got married about a year ago. And you applied some of your own research on regret when it came to choosing a wedding dress.

SUMMERVILLE: I did. So I actually wasn’t applying my own research. I applied to work by Sheena Iyengar on the phenomenon of choice overload as well as work by Barry Schwartz and colleagues about the idea of maximizing versus satisficing as strategies for decisions – maximizing being the idea that you want to pick the best of all possible alternatives and satisficing being the idea that you’re going to pick something that meets all of your standards but may or may not be the absolute best.

So when I was wedding dress shopping, I went to a couple of stores. I tried on five or 10 dresses at each one. And I found a dress that I absolutely loved and was in my price range. And I realized that what the research told me was I would never be happier than I was at that moment – that if I kept dress shopping, I was going to wind up feeling overwhelmed. You know, I could find a hundred different lace sheaths with a V-neck in ivory, and I would wind up feeling confused about what are the differences between these, and that the very act of trying to get the absolute best would mean that I could never really be sure if I’d done it. Whereas, if I adopted a satisficing strategy, I could be sure I’m in a dress that looks beautiful on me and is in my price range, and I should just buy it and be done. And so that’s how I chose my wedding dress.”

—Emma Maris, “Feminine And Unapologetic.” Lastwordonnothing.com September 25, 2017.

h/t Hidden Brain. What I find puzzling about Emma’s commentary is she, in her writing, is both criticizing the trivialization of gendered examples and at the same time does it herself. Crying while doing dishes and listening to the radio is only female in so far as women are more likely to be washing dishes in the first place.