Ecaterina Harling

Consultant, MooD International


This conversation is closed.

What is the key to smarter decisions?

My question to the TED community is what is the key to smarter decisions?

As individuals, how can we make smarter decisions in everyday life?
How is this different in business decision making?
Can we help others make a better decision or should this be done out of own will?

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    Oct 3 2012: First, I think there is a mis-conception that decisions need to be fast and somehow society equates speed and "decisiveness" with being smart. I think perspective is important - allowing a bit of time to pass (unless the decision about running from a bengal tiger that's come loose in the suburbs).

    So, the key is about processing impact and thinking through the chain of events that are set off by decisions. We often think of how the decision effects the outcome of the current choice, but try to predict the ripple effect. What choices will be presented as an outcome of this first decision? What/who will be impacted?

    Also, really think about the magnitude of the decision and allow for unpredictable outcomes. No matter how carefully you process information, the energy flow and randomness shape what happens next
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      Oct 3 2012: Well said Michael :)
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      Oct 10 2012: Agreed. Important to consider both what goes in and what comes out of our decision making process
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    Oct 2 2012: We can make smarter decisions by being clear about our personal vision, goals and purpose; seeking knowledge and information concerning the issue to be decided; learning from the experiences of those who have made similar decisions; and seeking wise counsel from those whose life and career successes are evident to all.
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      Oct 10 2012: I think this also applies in the business environment. A decision could be considered smarter, if it aligns to the organisation's vision, goal and purpose; seeking knowledge from experts and research in the market/industry research concerning the issue to decide; learning from the experience of others- bench marking...
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    Oct 4 2012: I made a post earlier in this thread, but after reading other posts since then, I'd like to add another thought that has been implied by several here.

    The speed at which you make the decision should be directly related to the "cost" of correcting it if it was a "wrong" decision.

    I learned this concept when I was young while reading a book written by a "corporate executive" describing his life (I don't remember who it was right now). He said (this is not a firm quote, but paraphrased):

    "If your decision is whether to buy Baby Blue or Buffalo Brown coffee cups to hand out to your employees, pick one and make it a fast decision. It won't cost much to buy the other color cups again if you were wrong. And depending on your own salary, it might cost the company more in your salary pay if you take 30 minutes agonizing over it than the cost of the coffee cups. But if your decision might cost the company a few million dollars if you are wrong, that is the decision you want to spend your time on making."

    Made perfect sense to me. A decision to buy a Snickers bar vs a Milky Way takes me about 3 seconds (OK, I admit...sometimes I just buy one of each to make it easier). ;-)
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      Oct 4 2012: 1 second : snickers ;-)
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        Oct 4 2012: Woo-Hoo! A doctor who likes Snickers! If I lived near you, you'd be my physician! ;-)
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      Oct 4 2012: Elementary Dr Ryan, rudimentary logic, what is important and what ain't
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        Oct 4 2012: Might be elementary, but I see and know a lot of people who don't use it.
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      Oct 10 2012: I think it might be better to associate a decision to value rather than cost... though it might be slightly harder to measure, I think it would result in less 'wrong' decisions
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    Oct 3 2012: One method of smarter decision is removing human errors. There are several ways to do this.
    I like S.T.A.R.
    Stop - Take a minute and clear your head and focus
    Think - Concentrate on task at hand one step at a time
    Act - Perform task
    Review - Verify correct actions taken and proper indications of action occure

    The last step is the most important.
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    Oct 3 2012: What helps me make smarter decisions in my daily life is the 20/80 rule, which means 20% of what you do creates 80% of your life it can even be a lot less. For example if someone skips breakfast or even just there morning cup of coffee it's going to have an effect on there mood and performance which then can affect other things such as being in a bad mood around there boss in the morning etc. That's why I believe it's so important for us to be kind,compassionate and caring in our daily lives for we are having more of an impact on each other then we could ever imagine.
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    Oct 2 2012: In my opinion...

    Game Theory, Risk Management, and understanding Human Nature and how it applies to both.

    We live on a planet with 7 Billion people. The decsion you make will be "smart" only if it results in the outcome you are hoping for. That is not hard to achieve if the other 6,999,999,999 people have no ability to impact the result of your decision. However, there are very few decisions you will make where that is how it works. But, if the decision really ONLY will effect you, with no one else being able to affect the outcome of it, AND your decision will not adversly affect anyone ELSE, then it can be argued (usually) it was a "smart" decision for you to make.

    The problem with making decisions that affect groups of people are complicated by the Human Nature issue. Solving "world problems" becomes increasingly difficult as the number of people involved concerning the decision itself AND the results of that decision are considered. The more "players" involved, the more difficult it is to find a solution that will make everybody "happy"...or may even be "fair" concerning everybody for that one decision. Expect dischord and discontent...and maybe even violent reactions...from a least some of them, regardless of what course of action you finally decide to take.

    Your question asks about decision making in "everyday life". Every decision is a "daily life" decision, regardless of who is making it or the scope of the decision. World Leaders trying to solve "world problems" are all making "everyday life" decisions.

    As for businesses? The decison making is dependant on accepted expectations of the business model. Is it a for-profit business? The decision-makers should be making for-profit decisions. Does it have investors? The decisions should be aimed at maximizing the returns for those investors. Yes, I know that is not a popular concept...but it is the realistic one. Just like anyone looking for the highest interest returning bank account.
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      Oct 2 2012: Rick,

      You touch on an excellent point. While it would be optimal to use reason and leave emotions out of the decision making process, fact is human nature is such that emotions cannot be simply ignored, nor can we pretend that we can rationally suppress them all.

      Funny that you mention game theory and risk management... I am a big fan of Kahneman and Tversky and their work on prospect theory, and the process of decision under uncertainty. Any decision process that aspires to be a bit smarter, has to take into account the innate flaws that our own decision making process has embedded.

      Epicurus used to say (or so i am told) that in a social environment the best decisions are those that minimize suffering (versus maximizing joy and pleasure, something he was frequently accused of preaching). I tend to like that idea as a guide in my decision making process when the outcome affects more than one individual.

      Being aware of our own biases helps, and making the effort of letting go of deep rooted beliefs helps too.

      Sometimes i use a quote: good judgement mostly comes from experience, but experience mostly comes from bad judgement.

      So we must allow ourselves to try and fail.
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        Oct 2 2012: Andres,

        I like your qoute, "good judgement mostly comes from experience, but experience mostly comes form bad judgement." It is so true.

        One of my favorite quotes is, "Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity."

        Most people who survive "crisis" do so because they were prepared for it. They weren't just "lucky". They learned good decision making skills, then used those skills on a daily basis to avoid any "crisis" from occuring to them. For the crisis that they had no control over, they were prepared to weather the storm from it while others just got swallowed up by it.
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          Oct 10 2012: "Most people who survive "crisis" do so because they were prepared for it." - I like your point on being prepared for a crisis as a result of good decision making skills. I think it is a point very well made. A lot of individuals/ businesses sink because when the crisis occurs, they are swallowed up but its development rather than deciding on how to improve/stop whatever is occurring by carefully implementing decisions.
  • Oct 31 2012: There are two ways you can make smarter decisions, one by sheer luck; you chose the best option with limited knowledge of the consequences of every option available and then it turned out to be the best decision possible. The other is by fully knowing the consequences of each option and then choosing the more suitable. So basically you need better knowledge tools (intelligence), but you also need a very well calibrated system to ponder the pros and cons of every option at hand (experience), because the best knowledge wont give you the best decision possible if you are not able to properly measure the pros and cons. And finally you need to have your priorities sorted (vision) otherwise you may end up making the right decision at the wrong time.
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      Nov 1 2012: Point very well made. A clear vision, assessing options and understanding the impact.... and an element of luck!
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    R H

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    Oct 24 2012: There is much research on 'decision making' and what makes for a 'good' decision. Many books have been written, many classes have been taught, on how to make them. 'The key' to me is not how they are determined, but how they are received and/or implemented. We do not live in a vacuum, so our actions (decisions) are being assimilated into the group. How our decisions effect that group (including our personal world) will reflect whether a decision is a 'smart' one or not - in my opinion.
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      Oct 24 2012: Very interesting thoughts. What do you think constitutes leading research in this area?
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        R H

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        Oct 25 2012: Oh, guys/gals with PhD's who study this stuff. One has to have credentials to have the credibility to have their work considered "leading research".
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    Oct 22 2012: All the decisions that one make can never be smarter. Only time tells whether the decision taken at some point of time was correct (i.e., smart) or incorrect (i.e., not so smart). When one makes a decision, depending upon one's background, education, experience, knowledge and experience about the matter itself etc. one takes a decision. Thereafter, whether the decision taken was a smart one or not would also depend upon how the developments take place. The so-called non-smart decisions work as lessons of life and help one to make smarter decisions in future.
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    Oct 17 2012: Smart decision simply means that it is an educated decision. Otherwise it can never be a smart decision. An educated decision is always the smartest one. The more you know the subject or object etc.. the smarter the decision. Without all of this, it becomes only a decision.
  • Oct 16 2012: Emotional intelligence on the impact of decision-making can possibly be the "key" to smarter decisions. What I mean by this is being in control of the emotions when the time comes to make a decision. Research shows that when you are angry you are more likely to take riskier decisions whereas when you are fearful you will be more cautious.

    One aspect of being emotionally intelligent is having greater awareness over ones feelings. By being aware of these feelings you can ensure that these feelings do not come in the way of a rational decision.

    In addition by being more aware, when you are in the final stages of the decision, you will be aware of your confidence, if it is the right decision.

    Emotion and rationality need to be balanced in order to ensure an effective decision.

    Under emotional intelligence also comes the ability to understand others feelings, so in the scenario of a group decision, an emotionally intelligent individual that can feel another person’s emotion will be able to lean towards a decision in all favours.
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    Oct 11 2012: Smarter is relative to your own perception of the world around you. It's not important what other's think might be the best decision, ultimately you must choose your own path. Know thyself and act accordingly.

    Business is completely opposite because it is important to know what other people think about your products and services. And you must convince your patrons that they made a smart decision for going with your company.
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    Oct 10 2012: Another thought about decision making. Decisions require both Management and Leadership skills, depending on the type of decision being made.

    A person in a decision-making position has four distinct resources available to them...Equipment, Money, Time, and People.

    The first three are limited resources, and they need to be Managed.

    The fourth resource...People...can be an unlimited resource depending on what you can get them to accomplish. It's not just the number of people you may have available (as in being "limited"), but whether you can provide them a means to motivate themselves to use their full potential. People are an amazing resource when you can get them self-motivated to achieve something. But this requires that you LEAD people, not Manage them. The failure of many supervisors making decisions about their "people resource" is that they try to Manage them instead of Leading them.
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      Oct 11 2012: So if we return back to the point of assessing the information we have (made by Colleen earlier in the thread), I think it is fair to say that the start of the journey to smarter decisions would be in assessing the four elements you've outlined before making the decision
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        Oct 13 2012: Absolutely. And even though I addressed those four resources as applying to a "supervisor of (other) people", it is just as important to realize that I, as an individual, am "the supervisor of myself".

        Even when making decisions that may only affect me, I need to evaluate all four of those resources as they apply to myself too before making a "smart" decision. I need to manage the first three resources as they apply to me, but "lead" the fourth resource...myself...because I myself am "a people".
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    Oct 10 2012: I have 2 great answers for this question but I can not decide which to present.
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      Oct 10 2012: haha! two great answers wouldnt count for much if you have not decided which one to present..
      what you have chosen is not a "smarter decision" you gotta learn how to decide man..hehehe..peace! ^^,)
  • Oct 8 2012: In my opinion to make smarter decision is fairly simple. First you must have an open mind. Second you must have the ability to retain the information given. Third, you must look at the information critically. Fourth, follow through with your decision.

    I find making decisions easy but having the discipline to follow through is the hardest. Its not really the "make" the decision that gets me. Its in fact do have the discipline to maintain and stick to my decision.
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      Oct 10 2012: I think there's a fifth point as well, which was made in several of the thread's comments: assess what is the impact of the decision that has been implemented
  • Oct 5 2012: Understanding the long term and short term consequences of the decision.
  • Oct 3 2012: David Campbell: Discipline is remembering what you want.

    This is difficult when faced with choices of alternative goods, whether it is a house, an automobile or your next meal. Decide what you really want before looking at the catalog, the menu, or in the refrigerator; then remember.
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    Oct 3 2012: I don't think there is smart decision in absolute term because you will know the decision you made was smart after you see how the result of your decison turn out. It depends on every single situation and the decision you concluded as smart at the one situaion might not be smart at the other situation. So, the point that I am trying to make here is we have to develop the ability to distinguish which decision wll be better in certain situation. In order to do that, we should analyze the situation we face considering every possible variables that might affect your decision and find the fittest one.
  • Oct 3 2012: Be informed and thoughtful decision makers. Put the appropriate amount of research time in to big decisions. Understand rewards vs benefits trade-offs. There will always be risk, but we can reduce it with information and thought. The decision to buy a car should be based on needs, resources, and comparative costs. The decision to eat a hamburger or hot dog at lunch is less complex. Spending the same amount of time and thought making the car decision as the lunch decision may lead to unintended consequences such a s living with a lemon, or hunger pains, depending on which way you go.

    As for helping others with decisions, it depends on many variables. How old are they? What is the urgency of the decision? What is your risk by helping? Telling someone to not pet a cobra if they are intending to do so is worthwhile if the person has no knowledge of snakes. Telling someone who to vote for in an election is not allowing them the opportunity to think for themselves.

    In mentoring, I try and point out what I consider to be the major considerations in a decision, then let others make their own decisions. In doing so, their decision should at least be more informed.

    In parenting, I tried to let the kids make all the decisions they were capable of making at any given age in hopes they would learn how to make good decisions on their own. I only stepped in after bad decisions were made, health or welfare were at stake, or there were factors that could not be considered by a child necessary to make the decision. So far, both of my adult children have made good decisions in general.
  • Oct 3 2012: Well the first step is to make sure what you want or need. After you are sure about what you want or need then the rest of the decision making process "unfolds" by itself.
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      Oct 10 2012: Interesting. Thinking to the outcome of what I'd like to achieve helps me make decisions too. I think I identify with this.
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    Oct 3 2012: I use to take decisions very fast after when I read the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell he describes that how the decisions which are taken in small period of time are sometimes better than the well planned ones. He have given the examples of gambling, war games and the movies.

    Before reading this book I use to think, think and think but was oftenly unable to start the task so I like to recommend this book to you.
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      Oct 4 2012: Hello Noveed,
      Going around with "thinking" is a cycle we sometimes get "stuck" in when trying to make decisions by putting things in some kind of logical order. I find that at times, what seems logical, is not necessarily the best decision. That's why I feel it is important to listen also to instinct/intuition:>)
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        Oct 5 2012: Ofcourse colleen without instincts and intuitions making decisions is like one taking decisions without mind and one thing more how can I disagree with my mentor so quite agree with you. :)
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    Oct 3 2012: A good situation analysis could be the key.....
    Whether HEAD / HEART / GUT should take the lead in doing so usually is the point of debate which is also evident here.
    In everyday life at personal level "HEART / GUT driven decision seems to be smarter ....while in business most tend be more "HEAD" driven while taking decision......but are those all smart ?
    Afterall businesses are run by human being who are emotional.....pure HEAD driven decision can sound very smart but until it is implemented / executed nothing will change. It is people who will implement it and they are emotional. So my feeling is a mix of HEART is always good regardless whether it is at business or personal level.
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      Oct 3 2012: I agree Salim,
      I use the same process for all decisions...gather all available information, listen to the head/logic/reason AND the heart/instinct/intuition. Either one may be more pronounced depending on the situation, but I would not deny myself the opportunity to be open to ALL information, when considering any decision:>)
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        Oct 4 2012: Hi Colleen
        Can't agree more about being open always..........
        Critical is which button or combination of buttons to be pressed (i.e. Head/Herat/Gut) when / in which situation ....that's my feeling
        Have a good day
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          Oct 4 2012: Dear Salim,
          I reflect back to you, your own words at times, and also remind myself...
          "Know thyself" is one BIG key to smarter decisions:>)
          Good day too my friend:>)
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    Oct 3 2012: Taking a breath. Taking a breath can almost stop time for that brief second. And many times, that one extra moment is all you need.
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    Oct 2 2012: Even with all of the facts and many advisors leaders throughout history have made bonehead decisions. Why would we expect to be more likely to make all the right decisions.

    The cure, as in most things, is time. At 70 I make less decisions based on emotions and hormones.

    Perhaps the facts that we all make thousands of great decisions everyday is overridden by the one decision that we beat ourselves up over. My advice is to learn from it and grow from it ...

    All the best. Bob.
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      Oct 2 2012: Dear Robert,
      You may be right about that "age" thing!!! Sometimes my decisions don't matter any more because I cannot remember them anyway!!! I simply could not resist...please forgive me because I'm old, and I do not remember what I do..........LOL.............LOL..........LOL:>)

      Seriously, I suggest that the "bonehead" decisions made by leaders were to serve their own agenda, so they were not very good decisions that served the whole. Learn and grow.....good advice which I agree with Bob:>)
    • Oct 17 2012: Robert I have to wonder if high-powered leaders who make disasterous decisions are really able to get good, true, objective information about the situations they will influence, or if the structure of leadership often evolves in a way that isolates people with great power over large populations from getting unbiased information.
      I would hope that, given 21st century technology, leaders of powerful organizations and countries would sometimes abandon the briefing books and pre-digested information served up to them, then just get on the world wide web and see what people outside of their own power structure and experiencing and saying.
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    Oct 2 2012: Hi Ecaterina!
    For me personally, the best decisions are made after gathering all available information, pondering, and letting the decision unfold. I study and research information if that is appropriate, and also listen to instinct/intuition.

    Often, after gathering information, I ask the question of myself before going to sleep, because I believe our subconscious mind often works things out while we are sleeping. There may be information we are not aware of on a conscious level, so the subconscious helps us out:>)

    I see no logical reason to deprive myself of ANY information which might facilitate a good decision, so I remain open minded and open hearted to everything available. As thinking, feeling, evolving humans, we have the ability to sift through information logically AND intuitively when those functions are working together.

    We've seen discussions here on TED where folks ask...what is better...logic OR intuition? I see no reason to seperate these valuable sources of information.
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      Oct 10 2012: Colleen, what I like most in your answer, is that you concentrate on the question at hand. I think a lot of not such smart decisions are made because people's judgement takes them too far away from the original issue/ problem where the decision is required. I think by actually concentrating on the question at hand, one is opened to a structured thinking process (conscious or unconscious) and is enabled to make a smarter decisions.
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        Oct 16 2012: Thanks for the feedback Ecaterina:>)
        I believe that being clear in ourselves and focusing on the question at hand provides a better path to more useful, beneficial decisions. I agree that decisions that are sometimes not so good, are often because of mental/emotional/logical wandering.
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          Oct 16 2012: Hi dear Colleen you are absolutely right but I am curious that did you regret any of your decision after you made because I really do with almost all of my decision I made like I started a small business after my graduation instead of doing a job although it is running smoothly and according to my expectations but sometimes I think that job may be better than it even it happens to me in my social and personal life like I have a circle of friends around me whom with I feel comfortable but sometimes I think that I must leave them because they are BAD in the views of people whom I want etc. Is it a regret or something else and does it happen to me or almost all human beings??

          (you might be feel difficulty to understand what I want to say due to language problems but if you get it please reply me)
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        Oct 17 2012: Hello Noveed:>)
        Good question, and it is a factor which often keeps people from moving forward. It is very common to question ourselves and our choices/decisions. An important question is, how much energy do you want to give to something from the past?

        Regret means..."to mourn the loss or death of; to miss very much; to be very sorry for; grief or pain tinged with emotions;an expression of distressing emotion; sorrow; disappointment". Personally, I do not see any benefit in carrying that baggage.

        I have no regrets. I believe that the life experience is an exploration, so I do not perceive "failures", "mistakes", or spend my time and energy on regret. When we believe, as I do, that the life adventure is an exploration in which we can learn, grow and evolve as human beings, there is no need to spend time and energy on regret.

        As I said in a previous comment on this thread, when facing a decision, I seek all available information, listen to my logical mind and intuitive/instinct, ponder the information and make the decision. I feel confident that I have done everything possible at that time to make a good decision. If, at a later date I am aware of more information, I realize that the decision I made was for the purpose of learning, and another stepping stone on the path of life.

        Regarding your decision about starting a small business/or doing another job. You say..."sometimes I think that job may be better..." That is not the reality in the present moment, so why give that thought energy? It's a thought...allow it to move through you and spend your energy on what you are doing in the moment.....make any sense?

        The past is gone by, and we can use information from the past to learn. The future is not yet a reality, and it is good to have plans and dreams. Being fully engaged in the present moment, and using my energy in the present, is the most desirable for me, because the present moment is the only reality:>)
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    Gail .

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    Oct 2 2012: FIRST, FOREMOST, AND LAST: Learn the difference between a rational thought and an emotional reaction.

    We can help those who are willing to learn this, but cannot help those who are not.
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    Oct 31 2012: The 18 tips offered here are worth considering:
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      Nov 1 2012: Theodore, thanks for sharing. However, I think there are two conflicting points within the list in the article:

      "Adopting someone else's perspective helps us make smarter decisions." and "Most people get it wrong when trying to take others' perspectives."
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        Nov 1 2012: The two points you are asking about are really the same point, I'll explain.
        It can be helpful to imagine ourself in the point of view of others to understand why others act as they do and not as we think they should. (Adopting someone else's perspective) But this can be a difficult thing to do so we might avoid doing it, perhaps not do it actively, or we might let a form of conditioned thinking prevent us from fully considering the other. (Most people get it wrong )

        There is a saying, Walk a mile in someone else shoes. It means, try and put yourself in another person's situation if you what to understand them. This is what can help us make better decisions.
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    Oct 29 2012: You've asked a key question, the answer of which makes it more or less likely that you will live a full life.
    When it comes to important decisions, your ability to evaluate the consequences of your decision before making it is prerequisite to making good decisions.
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    Oct 25 2012: We cannot focus on making smarter decisions, just take risks and accept theiir consecuences.

    Sometimes silliest ideas are the greatest.
  • Oct 25 2012: Smarter decision.
    It is simple and yet complex.You need to have wisdom and in order to attain it,you must educate yourself about the effects and the morals that an idea/decision holds,morals meaning the benefit of an idea for all.You need to reflect upon an idea repeatedly and think of the consequences and effects that an idea holds.A great thinker always think morally,for the good of all.Every thought we make affects the world directly and indirectly/law of attraction.

    Smarter decision is made of thinking with great unselfishness,and morally.
    in order to attain it you must have a clear mind and be in higher state of consciousness.
    I suggest meditation.
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    Oct 17 2012: learn from your mistakes.

    nothing new about that other than that there is probably an app for it and a buzzword phrase to make it sound like it's a new thing.
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    Oct 16 2012: Prior to reaching any decisions, by first determining exactly what is to be decided, followed by identifying the potential outcome(s) for having reached each alternative decision, and finally, by planning what will follow once the decision has been reached and acted upon. If you misidentify any of that, all else that follows will be of little value.

    The requirements are essentially the same for business decisions although the execution of the process does vary for obvious reasons.

    "Can we help others make a better decision or should this be done out of our own will?"

    That depends on the nature of the decision and certainly on what is at stake should the wrong decision be reached. I recently conducted research with a statistically representative sample of 517 adults between the ages of 18 and 70 living in the US, regarding their attitudes towards "change". The overwhelming majority accept that professional change initiatives (work related) are almost all done with others. However these same people rarely look beyond themselves or very close family when attempting significant personal change. Since "decisions" are at the heart of change, this (to me) dichotomy is why we fail at so much personal change. And because we do we have personal problems which distract from our ability to focus on professional issues while at work.
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    Oct 14 2012: I think long-term expectations of consequences are important. People tend to prefer decisions that could give them shor-term benefits(Even they are well-known about long-term benefits). That short-term benefits are usually smaller ones. And even if the long-term benefits look trivial at present time, they would become bigger and bigger, and finally change enormous things that we couldn't imagine.
    This principle could be applied to business environemt too I guess. Additonally, in business decision making, decision maker should focus on the numerical (financial) aspect more than usual decision making situations. They have to measure the fiscal states and find out where the company are on the competitive playing ground. And then they would decide which decision will create future benefits(long-term benefits) more. Even engineers should measure the future value of engineering projects using 'engineering economics methods'.

    ...conclusion is that we should focus on the long-term benefits.?!
    (It's only my opinion..!)

    Have a good day :)
  • Oct 13 2012: I believe smart decisions can be made by focusing on what is important. If you have to choose be between one, two or three or more options then you have start the process of elimination and get down to only two choices. This is not always an easy task but is the a good way to make smarter decisions. First you have to look at what benefits your options have.

    For tough decisions, like with politics, decisions can be better made when more people work and think together on them. Is it possible for one or two people to make the right decision that could have an effect on thousands or millinos of people? Yes, but would it not also be a good, possibly better idea to have 10 or even 100 people working together, collectively to figure out what the best decision is?

    Think of a decision like building a house. Sure one or two people could do it, but it would be a lot better if you had 100 people working on it? As you can see in this analogy, in both situations, the more people the better. Of course this is not always the case, and 1 or two people could be better at making decsions than even 1,000, people. It just depends on who the people are that are trying to build the house or make the best decisions, and what state of mind those people are in, or what capabilities the people have.

    If you want to make smart decisions you have to focus, narrow your options to what is the most important, then make a choice of which option will most likely bring you the best possible outcome.

    If someone offered you 20 ounces of a beverage that you had to drink as part of a study, what would you choose?

    Mountain dew, that has high amounts of sugar, and calories, or gatorade? Which is the smarter choice?
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    Oct 11 2012: for smarter decisions i think we can have quick smarter mind to do so .we can have that access to our mind though which we can quickly decide that should we do.
    i want to share a moment with you that my flight officer said that if you are driving a car and our car ran out of gas and what would you do? of course you will park your car in side but if you are flying a fighter and suddenly your fighter became damage at that situation he said you have to quickly decide that are you going to die or you will do some better decision/.
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    Oct 10 2012: There's really no way of knowing if a decision is better than another. You cannot judge it only by the immediate effect. Any decision you take has long term effects as well. Plus, the cost of opportunity applies. Not only can you not judge the "smartness" of your current decision, but once made, all other possible decisions are lost.

    What I'm trying to say is... I don't think there's a way to compare the "smartness" of decisions. You decide what you think it's best at that moment and that's it.
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      Oct 19 2012: agreed. I find the question lacking in substance/relevance. no offense intended. in fact, may have been a smart marketing effort. :)

      more importantly, ask: why do I want to make 'smarter decisions?'
  • Oct 9 2012: every day we are making decisions it may be smarter or wiser all of it are risk that we have to face what ever is the result. in business we can do damage control but in our everyday life it is our selves asking for some opinion is fine but end of the day we still have the call what is best for ourselves Prayers and trust in your self is still the best. also do not take for granted our instinct it helps also good day....
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    Oct 8 2012: In my opinion, there's something into ourselves who knows and speaks. It uses to be a smart advisor. The question is learning to listen 'it'. It's much more than the so called 'common sense' or 'intuition' or something so. It's our real and truly inner being and 'it' has accumulated to the human race's experience the one of each self.
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    Oct 5 2012: I'm also going to add another post here that will probably get some fur flying, but there is another aspect about decision making that most people don't comprehend.

    You need to decide whether you actually need to be trying to make a decision in the first place.

    Much human stress is a product of worrying about things the person has no control over in the first place. If you have no control over it, you don't need to be trying to make any decision about it. Let it go. It's probably somebody else's decision to be making, so you don't need to be getting involved in it to begin with.

    Don't fool yourself by thinking that just BECAUSE you can make decisions, you NEED to be involved in decisions that are other people's responsibility or right to make. It's not very "smart" to try to force your decisions on somebody else, unless they have agreed to let you do that, and given you the right to do so. There are exceptions of may need to force your decision on somebody to uphold laws or to prevent them from harming others. But in many everyday situations, people try to force their decision makining onto someone else for a variety of wrong reasons.

    Think about the old saying..."When I want your opinion, I'll ask for it." The same should apply to trying to make decisions for other people in many cases.
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      Oct 6 2012: Hi Rick,
      You did not ask for my opinion, so I hope you do not mind if I agree with you:>)

      You write..."You need to decide whether you actually need to be trying to make a decision...human stress is a product of worrying about things the person has no control over...not very smart to try to force your decisions on somebody else..."...... good points Rick.

      This is part of the "available information" I refer to in another comment on this thread. We all have the ability to sift through information to determine how, why, when, where and with whom we want or need to make decisions.

      "Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference".

      You are absolutely right that some folks spend a lot of time and energy worrying and stressing about some things that may not make a trying to make decisions for others.
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      Oct 10 2012: I agree with you, Rick. Sometimes it's important to actually measure if a decision is necessary. As Colleen says, it should be based on the information available to us to make that decision. Sometimes it's better to let a risk occur than to make a decision to stop it (though I think it's quite hard to measure the available information that would enable someone to decide whether it's better to let something happen or not).

      On the flip side of that, sometimes it's better not to make a decision when information isn't available. This comes to the point of rushed decisions and stress. Sometimes people are too fast to judge...
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        Oct 10 2012: Quote): "On the flip side of that, sometimes it's better not to make a decision when information isn't available. This comes to the point of rushed decisions and stress. Sometimes people are too fast to judge..."

        Excellent point, Ecaterina. That concept applies to many disciplines.
  • Oct 5 2012: Honesty ... a willingness to be truly honest with oursleves and with others and to seek and present accurate information with a willingness to do what is right as a whole. We must move beyond selfishness and think more about our impact on others. We need to be able to differentiate between our "needs" and "wants" and understand the differnces between necessities and luxuries. We must also think more about the long-term consequences of our actions and how decisions made today effect future generations.

    By living with individual integrity, we may create a new culture or way of thinking that encourages altruistic thinking/living as a community value.
  • Oct 5 2012: By stepping back and thinking about implication of different decision scenarios. And thinking about who this decision is being made for - the company you work in, yourself, your family?

    Stepping back and thinking about our actions often helps pre-empt bad decision making.
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    Oct 5 2012: I think the key to making "smarter" decisions is being able to understand what your motivation is and to make decisions that are closer to achieving this... And I think it all realy boils down to happiness. All the other things affect you by affecting your happiness and at least in my mind, that then becomes one's true goal in life and therefore the guide to smarter decision making as an individual.

    Business decision making is acting as part of a corporation, so what motivates these decisions becomes what is in the interest of the corporation which is an entirely more complex and difficult question based on who is asking and who is judging. It could be Market value, it could be Ethical reputation, it could be based on how green it is or on how many people it is able to keep in employment.

    Because business decisions are guided by their overarching motivation, I think this is improved by organisations improving training of their workers and is something that is already focussed on. Changing what motivates business is an entirely different and large question!!
    I do think that we can have more success changing what motivates people - sites such as TED do just that! Broadening people's minds, letting them get in touch with things that interest them, understanding themselves and their world and hopefully providing inspiration to do what makes you happy, which unfortunately is not the ideology many people are brought up with - chasing money/fame/power/reputation.

    If we all valued ourselves more and realised that our self-worth lay within ourselves, I think the decisions that we made would be much smarter and more focussed on our individual, and collective happiness :)
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    Oct 4 2012: When making a decision we should have a goal in mind.

    Option A - Turn Left
    Option B - Turn Right

    If the preferred option is not defined...we should try to gather as much information as we can before acting.

    Decisions based on emotion are driven by just that...emotion...not your goal.

    If you find yourself failing to achieve your can assume one of a few things:

    1) You are making choices based on emotion
    2) Your goal is not clear
    3) Your goal is not rational

    Choices that aren't based on some ultimate goal...are almost always impulse decisions.

    You have to step outside of the box here. Try and picture your problem in front of you...inside of a box.

    Don't live in the box...your job is to move the box around as you please. If you live inside the do you move the box?
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      Oct 10 2012: I like the suggestion of picturing the issue at hand in a box. What that would enable us, is to choose a side from which we decide to look at it.
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    Oct 4 2012: Sleep on it.
    • Oct 5 2012: Hello, Iynn :)
      Yeah, it's like the proverb, "think before you leap". I tend to do it before making some important decisions. But I just don't know why some people--especially smart ones--are really good at thinking on their feet. They don't need plenty of time to make smarter decisions.
      They just quickly make decisions which are really creative and wise.
      Are there are some sort of genius decision making people who don't always have to sleep on it before they make decisions? Are they naturally think outside the box? Have they experienced so many things compared to us? Or, are they just so smart?
      What do you think?

  • Oct 4 2012: For one, i believe that a conscious mind is able to make good decisions just through simple thoughtful applications such as; Thinking of others, making sure our actions don't negatively affect others; Thinking long term, will the decision bring regret later?; and the benefits and costs of your decisions.

    Selfless thinking is what separates a humanitarian from utilitarian. Your duty as a human is to survive, and in doing so you must help others if you expect to be helped. Therefore, all decisions should be made in recognition of others around you. You never know who's watching, but when you stop look around and pay attention.

    Good decision making is based on logic, but you can't assume logic without actually knowing right from wrong. Indeed its a bit subjective, but for the most part we know our rights from our wrongs. We do have moral guidelines to follow, and if you don't then that may be a problem for another topic. Your instincts should always be paid attention to, but never the base of your decisions. Go over your current problem solving techniques and figure whether they're consistent in helping you achieve where you need to get to.

    Cost benefit analysis. If the decision is not costing or benefiting anyone, reevaluate it because every decision will affect you or someone else one way or another. Is it too expensive, what are your alternatives? The best thing to do is to weigh your options. What you decide on now may be a sacrifice, but view other options that are less sacrificial.

    We have to lead by example. Practice what you preach. Inform others of how you make decisions, assuming your decisions are accurate and positive. Give others an insight of how you would go about an issue, but also look for a method outside of your grounds. We can't solve others problems, often times because we have our own, but we can help others not overlook important pieces of data.

    Take your time with your decisions and don't wait for the last moment. Time is clarity.
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      Oct 4 2012: "Time is clarity". Welcome to TED saah!
  • Oct 3 2012: i agree with S.T.A.R too
  • Oct 3 2012: i agree with S.T.A.R
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    Oct 3 2012: Smart decisions can be discerned by their perceived level of difficulty, and this ranges from person to person and from varieties of situations. Our brains interpret different situations depending on what our personalities are like. For instance, a shy, anti-social person will most likely rule that getting into an intimate relationship would be near impossible.

    More to come...
  • Oct 3 2012: I definitely agree with Kashaf. Everything is dependent on you. We all have instincts which tell us the right thing to do. A lot of times, we ignore it because it is that still small voice which is not forceful. We also know how fast the speed of life is.. Moving at this pace allows us to make some very rash, unintelligent decisions. The key to solving this misery is making a concious effort to remain calm at all times. We also need to acknowledge the fact that there will be some decisions that we cannot handle. For some one like me who believes in a higher power, I will hand it over to him. Thinking about things you cannot handle will distort your thought processes.. It is a good thing to have hope and be positive.
  • Oct 3 2012: Hi!think a second time is a way for smart decisions
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    Oct 2 2012: By looking at the longevity of actions and thoughts.
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    Oct 2 2012: hello Colleen
    your smile always feels friendly . yeah ,another is that when you decide to do something .leave it for some time .and then think again if you still want ,then do it ,80% of what you do is right .so sometimes we just need some time to make a smarter decision.
    and what you said .subconscious mind often works thing out that is real .it helps me a lot
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      Oct 2 2012: Hello my friend Chen.....thank you for your kind words:>)

      Good point Chen....sometimes, it helps to leave it for awhile.....stop thinking about it and let it unfold.
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    Oct 2 2012: Rational analysis of all relevant and verified information.
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      Oct 10 2012: Point well made. But how do we go about understanding what is relevant and verifiable in the first place? Especially as some people mentioned emotions several times... doesn't information then become subjective?
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        Oct 10 2012: Oh no, must we discuss epistemology and semantics? 1). By "information" I mean potential and/or acquired knowledge. By "knowledge" I mean the state of knowing. By "knowing" I mean having the cognitive skill to retain, recall and process (now closing the circle) information which is JTB: a] Justifiable; b] True; and c] Believed. 2). By "verified" I mean confirmed to be consistent with fact. By "fact" I mean information that is consistent with what has happened or is happening. 3). By "relevant" I mean having the potential to affect the state of a specific matter or situation. At no point in this response have I used the word "emotion". Smarter decisions, as you call them, depend on the brain, not the heart. Emotions, feelings and intuition are too subjective to necessarily produce "smarter decisions". Deductive reasoning is essential to making smarter decisions. That is my decision :-).
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    Oct 2 2012: the easiest part would be to eliminate emotions, and do what is right, regardless of our discomfort
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      Oct 2 2012: No. Emotions are vital. Life becomes one great horror without them. Instead I suggest people study the nature of emotions and calculate them into the decision-making process.
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        Gail .

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        Oct 2 2012: In what way does life become one great horror without emotions? Thank you. :-)
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        Oct 2 2012: Good emotions are cheerfulness, exhilaration, enthusiasm these are the emotions of life

        Bad emotions are anger, hate, grief, fear, apathy these are the emotions of someone who to greater or lesser extent is circling the drain.

        My profound advise is to associate with the former and to deal with but keep your guard up with the later.
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        Oct 10 2012: Interesting idea... Does anyone know of any research into how emotions affect decision-making?
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          Oct 13 2012: Basic Game Theory addresses it, although basic Game Theory itself does not directly deal with emotions, but rather trying to determine whether a decision is rational or irrational.

          The foundation Game Theory example is called "The Prisoner's Dilemma", where only two "players" have to make a decision that will affect both of them. Once the problems associated with making a rational vs irrational decision are understood, it is easy to see how someone's emotions affecting that decision could be a huge factor in the decision-making process.

          Here's an in-depth explanation of it. There are more "generic" explanations of it at various other websites.

          EDIT: Here's a more user-friendly version if someone wants to avoid the complex mathematical notation of it.

      • Oct 17 2012: My understanding of human motivation is that emotion is "fuel" that can power our willingness to act. Emotions are neither "good" nor "bad" in themselves any more than fire or electricity are. Think of emotions as a form of energy or power.
        As with all power, how it's used and what it accomplishes can be good, bad, or neutral. Anger, for example, is a basic human response to threat. It can fuel violence and really bad decisions that lead to really bad outcomes, or the opposite. For example, when my son was having big problems as a high school freshman and his principal was clearly more interested in stomping out a perceived threat to his authority than in helping my son I was enraged - but I didn't lose my temper. I used that anger to fuel the determination and persistence I needed to get my son a very good counselor and to get him out of that school. My anger carried me through the involved process of jousting with health insurance and school bureaucracies. It was *very* satisfying to accomplish that.
        Allowing the limbic system where emotions are generated to outflank or overcome the prefrontal cortex, where we have abilities like self control, planning ahead, connsidering consequences, making reasonably good guesses about others' responses to our actions, etc can easily lead to bad decisions.
        *Recognizing* one's own emotions - or at least one's own urges to do or not do something, is IMO, one essetial tool for making good decisions, along with good information and understanding cause/effect cascades.
  • Oct 2 2012: There is no single key. Knowing and applying logic and math (statistics, etc...) helps but it takes years of dedication and it still doesn't guarantee anything. There is no quick fix, no free lucnh, etc...
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    Oct 2 2012: The key of smarter decision is you only because we have the capability or our mind has the capability to have a smarter decision in worst time.
    it also depends on how much our mind is stable and in what way we want to tackle any problem so directly or indirectly this all depends upon us or you

    so believe on you and be calm then only you can make a smarter decision in worse time also.
  • Nov 1 2012: I believe the key to smarter decisions is to suspend our current beliefs and look at what is really happening, without emotional attachment or preconceived ideas. Without an open mind it is impossible to increase your level of conscious awareness. An open mind gives careful consideration to new ideas or ways of looking at old and new problems.

    Too many of us are prisoners of our perception or more accurately, prisoners of our deceptions. When we start to interpret and mold situations to fit perceived values or condemn situations because they don’t agree with a long established set of limiting beliefs, we find ourselves in conflict, sometimes attempting to defend the indefensible. A lifetime of beliefs, no matter how poorly founded, can often be defended with such vigor that they take on the appearance of fact or being right.

    Smarter decisions require an open mind; a mind that asks “is there a better way?” Our mindsets and habits have evolved over our lifetime and patience and persistence is essential if we are going to committ to better decisions. Being open and receptive to new thoughts, beliefs or consciousness must start with an open mind and an open heart. Decisions are rarely black and white or carved in stone an open mind and some critical thinking are the order of the day if we want to personally change.
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    Nov 1 2012: As a individual I think we can make smarter decisions by taking the time to think about options and the results of those options. With the time to make a fully thought out decision we can commit to our decision and therefore make smarter decisions.
    Business decisions also need time to be thought out but these decisions should be made with other co-workers or "experts" in the areas that needs to be decided on.
    We can help other people make smarter decisions by helping them look at the big picture and all the different angles that they could take with the decision, but we should never push our perspectives onto a individual.
  • Nov 1 2012: Decision making is purely based on confidence. you must have clarity in matter/subject, perspective vision besides pros and cons of result. you must be prepared for any unforeseen eventuality into consideration. we are not supernatural power/energy. make sure you will not care for third party comments. fear factor is mainly responsible to get involved in decision making. never have dual mind as well never accommodate interference of another mind. be brave and stick to your decision. be accountable, transparent. held the entire responsibility of failure to your own and success to your team.
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    Oct 31 2012: One needs to overcome the fear of making mistakes. Smart people do make mistakes but they learn from it.
    If you want to learn to fail successfully and to handle the mistakes you do make in a way that will be extremely benefitial; then you need to be honest to yourself about your mistakes and weaknesses; you need to accept mistakes as a price of progress; and more importantly, you need to scrutinize the unsuccessful approach in order to know the lessons to be learned.
    When it comes to success, it is not the number of mistakes you make; it is the number of times you make the same mistake.
    We can help others by encouraging them to ask the right questions; but it is better to allow them to decide and to take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions.
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    Oct 31 2012: Very simple. We don't plan to (make smarter decisions.)
  • Oct 29 2012: If asked a question, take 5-10 seconds to think about what you are going to answer. By thinking through your answer, you can give the correct information, in the correct way.

    The ability to make smart decisions is a combination between intellect and past experience. General knowledge helps you in the quick question, quick answer situation. Reading, reading and more reading is a great way to increase your general knowledge (and spelling, which people seem to be lacking)
  • Oct 29 2012: I think to answer this question we need to look through the frame of the individual. For some -work/life are marred together in one. What happens in everyday life would directly influence ones success in business. For example, wanting to be a more competent public speaker will influence your success and confidence in business environments but it is a decison you need to make in every day life - to practice.

    In order to make smarter decisions we need to have a goal that's achievable, a distant bubble. I have several distant bubbles, one of mine is this - "to create positive change through the privatized sector". My work/life are directly related to each other and I identify my work with who I am and what I love. This helps me make smarter decisions, and provides guidance to me over a longer period.
  • Oct 29 2012: Your question is difficult and has no clear answer, When a person makes a decision, he studied by many aspects and emotions interfere in most of our decisions so we need to key as you said manages the decision-making process.
    We need a day to make decisions that may affect our lives forever, so I think the key is to consult experts or of trust in the wisdom and good study aspects of the decision and choose the resolution that contains the amount of a few of the consequences or the negatives.
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    Oct 29 2012: Experience and education. Mostly, experience.
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    Oct 26 2012: Wrong decisions from self and wrong decisions by others enable us to be cautious and take smarter decisions as we move forward in life ....
  • Oct 25 2012: Not sure what the answer to your question is, however this great little talk helps to highlight why it is a lot harder than one may think!
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    Oct 25 2012: Hi... Ecaterina Sanalatii.
    Smart decisions are the decisions you take spontaneously and at the correct time. There is difference between the good and smart decision. If you are thinking its impacts etc. then its a good decision but sometimes we take many decisions which are not good but we feel that "Thank God i took this decision,
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    Oct 25 2012: to make smarter decisions. is go by what you feel is right, listening to yourself and giving yourself the time to think to yourself, "Is this really what i want to do, is this what i choose to do, does this feel right, do i feel good about making this decision?" ultimately its up to how you feel, and through experience be they good or bad, you learn...either way...through failure you learn the most and gain the most experience, thus making those smarter more wiser decisions in my opinion.
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    Oct 23 2012: Easy! Its all about educating & training young people 'fully'. We don't do this at all. Its easy because it just needs application of the things we already know. Why don't we do it? Because we do not make smart decisions now.

    So, its the key smart decision we need to make NOW - to train and educate ALL young people fully - and this means mind, body, creativity, ability to think for themselves - 'fit for life' There is simply no other answer. I have developed specific ideas of exactly how we achieve this profound change in education and training:

    See 'Super Fast Track' - for the ones we have just missed out (17 to 22)

    And Fit For Life - for all ages (4 to 16)

    So there is no excuse for us not to have 'smart decisions' in the future - and they WILL understand what it means too!

    Lets get on with it - its a world changer, and by definition THE future of the human race.

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    Oct 22 2012: Ecaterina, would you be able to clarify what you mean by a smarter decision?

    For me, the crux of your question is around how you define a smarter or better decision. An implicit question which I'll ask explicitly is: Smarter than what? How do you know it's smarter or better? According to whom? Given two possible decisions, is it always clear which one is smarter?

    In answering your question, I would start with an analysis of what a smarter decision is and how we know it's smarter, before going into how we can make smarter decisions. But before doing that I would love to know what you mean by a smarter decision.
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    Oct 17 2012: Louise, We have learned from history that leaders are surrounded with power hungry and often psycotic advisors. G Gordon Liddy, Rhom Emanual, the early Cardinals of the Catholic church to name some of the recent and past examples who could care less about the "people". The problem rests with the people who elect leaders who have no idea of world economics, diplomacy, cause and effect, and could care less about ramifications to his constitutes.

    US leaders are driven by party platforms, election funding, big money donors, their obsations, ego, and their place in history.

    In todays administration FAST AND FURIOUS cost billions above the local budget and yet they want us to believe they were unaware. We have become 15 trillion in debit with a projection of another 5 trillion next year. We have insullted most friendly nations and lost some allies due to no foreign policy and lack of diplomacy. Our President has argued publicly with Sec State that the capital of Isreal is Jerusalem (a musllim belief), and bows to kings. Cap and Trade is being implemented through Executive order, have started with a AAA credit rating and currently have a aa- rating, etc ... the least transparent leadership ever. Joe the Plumber could have seen that almost all of these are dangerous and red flags all over them.

    These are what we know and are not argument but prove that leaders have agendas and obsations that we have no control over and no advisor could stop. As a rule you and I would pick a advisor that is in agreement with our "plan".

    Hitler wrote a book that few read ..... Obama wrote a book that some read and did not understand. Both put forth plans and thoughts that we should have recognized.

    Re-election should be based on what your record is ... the other guy should only be able to state what he would change and how. Voters should remove politicians nest eggs.

    Sorry for the soap box ... but I have a belly full of lies.

    All the best. Bob.
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    Oct 17 2012: The decisions in daily life can be made just based on your life experience and try a different way randomly sometimes to see if it's different end. Coz those decisions in everyday life are not that important . I don't mean the smarter decision depends on being more efficient or something, i mean it depends on making your whole life comfy in long-term and little surprise comes from randomly choices.
    Business decision is totally different . It needs professional skills.
    And when helping other to make a better decision just remember don's force them to accept YOUR thought or experience, just inspire them to find their own choice through inspirational questions.
    That's my opinion :-)
  • Oct 17 2012: The smartest decision will be the one that gives the maker the most satisfaction. If the maker is not sure it will not be a good decision. This is supported by our individual and unique experiences. Customers who like what they buy are happy with their decision. Those who make a hasty selection are not, thus making a bad decision. Those who cannot decide make no selection until they are happy with one.
  • Oct 17 2012: it's all about having wisdom. because out of it comes knowledge and out of knowledge comes intellect and out intellect comes intellectual and out of intellectual comes a good decision maker. I haven't mentioned formal education here. because u can aquer all these status without going through a formal education.
    formal education is just the icing on the cake.
    so the key to a good decision making is wisdom and the key to wisdom is GOD.
  • Oct 16 2012: fail often, fail better
  • Oct 13 2012: For making smart decisions one thing is essential, and that is the analysis of the problem. A decision should not only be good for the present but also for the future. Individual decision making is a little easier than decision making in groups. As an individual, the smartest decision can be made by knowing what the decision does to you and to others. It should be able to benefit you in the long run.If it doesn't do so, then probably it's not that good a decision. In groups the problem in decision making comes due to adversity in thoughts. As John Nash said " The best decision in a group comes when each member of the group does the thing( Or makes the decision) which is best for himself/herself and the group. ". In a group, the members must be able to take the different opinions and mash them together and make a good idea.
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    Oct 13 2012: A very open ended question. Nobody can surely tell what a smart decision is unless its results unfolds in the future, which I guess no one can do with 100% surety. For eg. what is a smart decision: taking a bus to work or walking to office. Both have there merits and demerits. If you go on foot, u will have better health, better acquittance to the surroundings etc. whereas bus will take less time etc really cant say.
    For Business point of view, one can take probabilistic guesses of doing something involving minimum cost or time with quality outputs.
    As far as teaching goes, no one teaches better than experience.
  • Oct 13 2012: I like to think decisions should be based on carefully out-weighing the pros and cons of a result of an action that is yet to be made. The main questions that one should critically look into is the "wants and needs".
    Often, what you want is not what you need, and what you need is not what you want.

    In this case, it's likely that once you end up getting what you want but not need, you'll take whatever you have received for granted because it's something that does not have much worth or is not essential/not a necessity for one's life. If it ceases to benefit you, why go after it? Why reach out for a desire that will only make you happy in the short run?

    Whereas if you aim to achieve to get what it is that you need, you can end up learning to want it in due time and be content with your decisions. The chances of regret or feelings of having made a mistake or error is much less.

    From a realist perspective, what you do or do not do in the short run determines the long run. So keep these factors and questions in mind before you decide to do anything. If you don't have a set of strong personal beliefs, values and morals, find out what they are for you so that you end up making better choices and live a less regretful life. You've got to not desire what's "good" or "better" at times and instead, desire what's "best". If your facts are well straightened out it will prove to be beneficial in helping to make decision.

    "You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you need" - Vernon Howard
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    Oct 12 2012: There is no key ... if you try to find one at the others you will not discover yourself in such a way to choose what is best for you. But knowledge and free way of choosing but in the directions of good sense, will help you always grow up and become what your inner tells you and the feelings confirm you. When talking about business, is you that have also to present your work in such a manner that your business partner understand your work and let them choose your work. If you try to convince them that your product is the best and they choosed wrong becouse maybe you persuaded them you will going to pay the persuation (mainly reclama) and your product will hardly become what the market needs and all of us will lose resources. Is like you are watching the mirror and say "I am the best of the best Sir/Mam" :) and after you have lost everything and you have to sell also the mirror .... think about that moment :) haha
  • Oct 11 2012: More thought, less emotive, irrational decision-making, based on falsehoods, like much in life, when you are honest about your needs & requirements, you tend to find that your decisions are less likely to impact your life in a negative fashion.

    We see it all the time with our young people now, decisions without a moments thought, sadly, they get that from much of what the adult populous now promotes as being wisdom ......

    Careful people, the repercussions of your decision-making can reach so far, that, they can eventually return to you through societies vicious circle ..... take a minute & THINK !
  • Oct 11 2012: the first step to making a better decision is defining what "better" is. not only for you but for as many people involved as possible. then simply choose an option that best meets the qualifications you set out for that situation
  • Oct 11 2012: a assessment of your own state of mind before you act.
  • Oct 11 2012: They key to making 'smarter decisions' is to:

    1) recognize the universe works on the laws of nature
    2) That the current economic system is bankrupt socially and politically
    3) To not measure yourself by the worlds standards (education, job, income), the hardest thing for most people to do.

    The key is to not fall into the trap of believing things that are lies, half truths and nonsense to confuse you. Most people won't find fulfilling work for instance. Trying to find fulfillment in work is Sisyphean task, work is called work and not play for a reason.

    Try to scientifically figure out your stress limits and live within them, many people are running around trying to contradict their biology and their limits and hence end up with health and stress issues because they are so tied into the world and thinking like everyone else. The world as a general rule is crazy and insane most of the time, people tend to look to others as to what to do. Instead you should learn to ignore 99% of what is generated by most people and the world at large and think critically about how ridiculous the world and how people behave really is.
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    p s

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    Oct 10 2012: As I walked along the street the other day I came to a deep and wide hole. I stopped momentarily before deciding to walk around it. Now that seems like the smartest decision I've made in a long while. Sometimes, the answer of what to do stares us in the face.
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      Oct 11 2012: although i dont know how to descripe it i think that you should Comply with nature .
  • Oct 10 2012: Pros and cons, using instincts or hunches sometimes, thinking about the consequences of the decision, keeping the mind open to other alternative and trying something different are a few ways of making smart decisions. But the most important one is: dont take excessive stress about decisions, just chill out and think freely and openly instead of hastily, stressfully and conventionally! :)
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    Oct 10 2012: calculations of plus and minus from the situation at hand
  • Oct 10 2012: There is a saying:Misfortune might be a blessing in disguise.In a long run ,we can't make a conclusion immidiately to the effect causing by the decisions we made. however in a short term,tell whethr it is a smarter decision or not ,according to whether you get what you want.
    we have no ability to forsee future,so we try to make smarter decision to make the things go as we wish.two ways for you.
    one:thinking in different ways is known to all to such problem.think if we don't do like this ,what will happen?learn lessions from others is a good choice,in this way we can avoid making same mistakes that others made facing the same problems.reflect things you did.if you did wrongly ,don't blame youself ,just correct it.
    two:don't expect the things go as well as you wish too much once you have made a decision.once you have made a decison,there is one thing we can do is not to regret,just face everything in a peaceful mood.remember that all you need to do is to do the right thing with a good purpose.
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    Oct 9 2012: Knowledge
  • Oct 8 2012: My question to the TED community is what is the key to smarter decisions?

  • Oct 8 2012: yep
  • Oct 8 2012: hello
  • Oct 7 2012: Smarter decisions are due to :-
    Knowledge and Presence of Mind
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      Oct 7 2012: I agree. However, if we look at a more general concept, it's all about knowing what's around you and making decisions based on the evidence that you have.
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        Oct 10 2012: okay..what about the will to act on that decision and how firm you are to stick with it.. ^^,)
  • Oct 7 2012: 5 mins ago l have made a decision lam in charge of the border crossing better Uganda and Rwanda at a place called mirama hills , as in charge l make the hard decisions on referral my junior just referred a complicated case to me I didnt have an idea how to make a smart decision to make it worse he told me l was a lawyer and better placed to make that decision, l referred the matter back to him and asked him what his take would be if he was in charge and my God , he gave me an excellent decision based on clear authority so at times a smart decision can have its solution right at the source of the issue, we must always liberate ourselves from the situation which we have to decide about or on, we have an African saying that a person who is in the rain can not know how warm the sun shines, thanx
  • Oct 7 2012: The key to better decisions is clear thinking. Your quality of your thinking determines the quality of your decisions and choices. Thinking is the hardest discipline of all of specially today. We are surrounded with so many distractions today, people cant stop being bombarding they minds with sensory input.

    These best way to practice for clear thinking is to practice solitude. Sit in solitude for about 30-60 mins with no distraction. ( No books, tv, computer etc, No distractions ) The first few times takes tremendous amount of discipline. After about 25-26 mins your mind goes clear and any problem you have been working on, the solution just pops into. your mind. Its almost like a miracle, when you practice solitude you super-conscious mind and intuition. Every body who practices will tell you its incredible.
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      Oct 7 2012: i dont think it is helpful .while many times we should make a dicision quikcly ,how can we find a solitude .when we find it is out of time .you know sometimes we should make quick decision ,

      or what of there is not a solitude ,shouldnt we make adecison .with the development of the society
      we should make may dicisions if we all d like what you said .hoe much time should we use .

      also i dont think it will be much better dision out of that ,
    • Oct 8 2012: I think this answer will have merit only to those who are initially comfortable with who they are and being alone with that person.
      A person who's distractions come from within (Depression, ADHD etc.) would only become more concerned with the ramifications of each decision to be made and it's infinate outcomes. This would then cause them increasing doubt in their ability to make any decisions. I have attempted this method and have found no solice in the approach, if anything it raised more questions the longer i attempted it.
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    Oct 6 2012: Listen to your mind, not your ego.
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    Oct 6 2012: Avoiding less smart decisions is the key. Existence of any thought that there must be a better decision, hints that there is one. Note that, smartness of one's decision is relative to one's own mindset and way of thinking. In order to put a decision to the test, think into the future and question yourself, wether or not you would make same decision for the second time knowing the consequenses of the first. Decision in question is a smart one, if the answer was positive.
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    Oct 5 2012: I heard a brilliant quote a little while ago, goes something like this...

    "Good decisions come from experience
    which comes from bad decisions."

    I think it makes a good point :)
  • Oct 5 2012: Keep your mouth shut and listen.
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    Oct 5 2012: I'd throw in a bit of self control or self discipline so that you don't just go for what gives the most immediate rewards.

    A bit of delayed gratification to overcome the power of recency and balancing the future with the present.
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    Oct 4 2012: Base your decision on facts not feelings. As humans we're naturally attached to our emotions, and we see and judge most often than not, with our "hearts" not our heads. Being honest is a plus too, just because you want a certain outcome doesn't mean it is the right or smart decision.
  • Mats K

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    Oct 4 2012: First of all you have to define 'a smart decision'. You would be surprised to as how many different answers you would get if you asked people that.

    Second of all, all decisions are based on knowledge/information. The brain doesn't have a mechanism to decipher between good and bad decisions. This is dictated by the environment you are brought up in and the environment you currently are inhabiting and thus the values and decision-makings you have and take are merely products of any given environment. In other words, we are all victims of culture.

    So, it seems that in order to make good decisions you have to acquire a certain amount of knowledge about different types of decision-making, socially and culturally in various environments and types of situations and acquire a ability to locate the decisions that is most suitable and sustainable for your own survival and happiness that correlates with your physical environment. And to make it more complicated, 'epigenetics', which is the science of looking at genes that turns on and off based in different types of environment a human inhabit, is also a factor that plays into what decisions people make daily.

    Therefore, the notion of making a logical and sane decision is a fallacy. All decision-making is based on your values which you get from the environment. Hope this helps.
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    Oct 4 2012: I think:
    (1) It is good for the goal of life --- To keep one’s own DNA alive
    (2) It makes “a-step-better” for the goal --- To make VALID happiness rather than INVALID one.
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    Oct 4 2012: hello Allan
    I think that intelligent descisions are those that everyone can let it pass .or at least most
    so before we make decision we should consider how others feel about your decision and what the decision bring us .
  • Oct 4 2012: Trial and error, yet you could also use calculus. Helps you get closer to a rational decision
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    Oct 3 2012: A smart business decision is usually one that uses logic and objectivity.

    A smart decision where people are concerned is completely different, in that one would then be dealing with subjectivity, emotion and other fallible human traits.

    The difficulty is when the two get mixed up as they often do in the business environment. Emotions, generally speaking, do not mix well with modern business practices. And conversely, people should never be objectified.

    The real trouble starts when people's livelihoods are wrecked by clumsy decisions based solely on objective criteria, rendering them effectively 'disposable' like a worn out machine part.

    Intuitive (gut feel) decision making is also important for individuals. Generally, more intelligent decisions are made by individuals than they are made by teams, or groups of people.
    • Oct 17 2012: Allan, your comment reminds me that I wish more business leaders would consider that if they're not investing in developing human capital they're likely to waste a lot of valuable resources - and not make as much money as they could otherwise.
  • Oct 3 2012: various approch can be used, but in complex situation, one of my best habit is to make décision step by step, like this

    1) What are the next steps in the implementation of the decision?
    2) What are the criteria to be taken into account (standard, my criteria, performance ...)?
    3) What do I enjoy (means the results, the purpose, the common good ...)?
    4) What is the issue of choice (one or more options ..)?
    5) How to find more free will (statistically, people, my preferences, ...)?
    6) What mode of deliberation adopt (logic, intuition, choice, system effect ...)?
    7) How to confirm the choice (system effect, scope, ...)?
    8) How to implement the decision?

    This sounds complicated, but after a while it comes naturally. The approach allows the decision and listen to step back. Hence the advantage in complex situations
    Best regards
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    Oct 3 2012: I ask 3 questions of my self:

    1. Is it true ?
    2. Is it necessary ?
    3. Is it kind ?

    And wait..
    The answers come.
    Only when all 3 answers are ' yes' then its a go.
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    Oct 2 2012: Logic
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      Oct 2 2012: Logic is helpless when emotions come into play.
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        Oct 2 2012: True you cannot reason with someone who is not reasonable, my advise is not to.
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        Oct 2 2012: Jedrek and Pat,
        I'm a little confused by your comments Jedrek because in another comment on this thread, you say..."Emotions are vital....calculate them into the decision-making ". Then you say..."Logic is helpless when emotions come into play".

        How about if emotions are balanced with logic and reason? Is that what you are suggesting? In my perception, allowing emotions to dominate decision-making is probably not a good idea, and I don't see any reason to NOT listen to our emotions with the decision-making you?
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          Oct 2 2012: You are absolutely right Colleen and Pat. All I wanted to say was that there should be a balance between emotions and reason.

          I am a victim of a twitter-style responses.
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          Oct 3 2012: Colleen and Jedrek

          A little context on decisions. Everyone's decisions are centered around their survival. Good decisions = more survival, bad decisions = less survival. The decision to be around people who bring you up is a good decision, the decision to join a gang who are criminals to support their drug habit is a bad decision.

          The people who bring you down are angry, apathetic, antagonistic. They make bad decisions with regards to survival which is why they are angry, antagonistic, apathetic.

          The people who bring you up are Cheerful, enthusiastic, exhilarated these people make good decisions with regards to survival which is why they are up beat.
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      Oct 3 2012: Hi Pat,
      I realize that some people are often in survival mode and I agree that survival may at times be part of the decision making process. However, I would like to think that we have evolved further than simply survival with most decisions?

      I agree that to be around people who are more "up" is prefered. I do not agree that people bring me "up" or "down". While others certainly can contribute to my sense of well being, I take full responsibility for how I feel at any given time:>)

      I choose NOT to regularly interact with people who are continually angry, apathetic, antagonistic, disrespectful, etc. I agree with you....they make poor decisions, which causes them to feel bad, which causes more poor decisions....on and on......a flow of angry, unbalanced energy.

      I find that being around cheerful, enthusiastic people adds to my cheerfulness/enthusiasm, and creates, you say.....up beat... well informed choices...more upbeat....better decisions...a more desirable flow of energy:>)
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        Oct 3 2012: Survival is always part of the thinking. The lower toned people are not surviving as good, the higher toned people are surviving much better. You see survival is not a yes or not proposition. Take somebody like Peter Diamandis this is very high toned individual why? because he created a fantastically successful and profitable business called Pay Pal, he is literally changing the planet for the better solving big problems and furthering technology . You see he is surviving much better than somebody who doesn't know where his next meal is coming from? The apathetic bum on the street who couldn't hold a job and depends on charity is in poor health is not surviving nearly as well. Point is that survival is no black or white yes or no and the tone levels are the shades of grey in between.
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          Oct 3 2012: Hi again Pat,
          Maybe survival is always part of YOUR thinking, and it's not always part of my thinking. I like to spend time and energy focusing on fourishing, learning, growing, evolving....unless.....of course.....I am REALLY in a situation where I need to recognize and deal with survival. Then I use the appropriate decision making "tools":>)
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          Oct 10 2012: I think I might have simply lost the thread of this... but your comment started with logic and ended up with the notion of survival at the heart of decision making, which I think is intuitive, whilst logic is learned and calculated...

          I do however agree with the points above that logic is important as it helps measure options in the decision making process, whilst intuition/ survival/ emotions help balance out what might appear logical but just doesn't intuitively eel right.
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        Oct 3 2012: Actually it is a part of everybody's thinking . It is the one thing all forms of life are trying to do above everything else. When you are concerned about your children it is your survival through them which will continue your family, your country is the same thing as is your planet, your animals etc. I'm not opining on this it just is. You disagree so I will leave it at that.
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          Oct 3 2012: Pat,
          I believe, as thinking, feeling humans, we have evolved beyond a focus on survival....unless, of course, one is actually trying to survive because of circumstances.

          When I am concerned about my children, it is because I love them. I do not "survive through them".

          I agree to disagree:>)