TED Conversations

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Decisions? Choices? Alternatives? Too little information? Too much information? Just how do we decide? Facing a decision? Share here.

Similar Challenges @ similar times. Identical choices to face @ identical places. Everything from what college major to choose; to when, if, & to whom you should marry; to have kids? Yes/no? How do I prepare for a future when I don't get anything -- but old? We all face similar challenges; all the time; every day of our lives. Why not share? Here!

TED has 14 talks on how to make Good Decisions. So far, I've seen talks that cover issues with marketing, healthcare, and major economic decisions involving how to improve life for all people everywhere.

If you had 50 Billion dollars, what global problems would you solve first? Economic Analysis gives a surprising set of priorities. And Global Warming is way down the list as far as "Bang for the Buck" is concerned.

Dan Gilbert says that YES we CAN synthesize our own happiness and we do so every day inside our own brains. And drugs have nothing to do with it. Also Professor Gilbert gives a more complex talk on why we make bad decisions. It would seem that we can blame evolution for that one.

Choices are hard to make. Important choices can be terrifying. We've all felt the same way when we had to choose & then face up to unintended consequences in Life! Choices-in-life? We all face 'em. Share here.


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  • Jun 9 2013: Juan,
    if there's one thing that binds us all, it's that our lives are full of these paths we take, that have led us to this point in time. Our emotions often play a big role in choosing a path, sometimes a path is chosen for us, sometimes we leave the paths for what they are and just stay put.
    A friend of mine, who is an inspirational speaker, once told me to "take advantage of your crossroads". Since then, the paths I thought were going straight ahead of me, possibly with a fork or two in them, are literally strewn with crossroads, each one as unknown and utterly exciting as the one previously.
    As someone with really no concept of regret, my decision-making has always been pretty impulsive. Now, as a Mom, a wife, and an official grown-up, most decisions are done in the team, but those crossroads are always out there to explore., not just for me, but for all four of us.
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      • Jun 10 2013: Oh, the innocence of the classic film industry...! Life imitating art, imitating life. All the world's a stage.
        This convo is related to some extent to Questions First's, "Why are we afraid to make mistakes"?

        When the choices presented before us are too overwhelming, we can get flustered, worried about where that path may lead us, and fear takes over, clouding our judgement.
        But I am convinced, if we allow fear to rule our decisions, we will get exactly nowhere.

        Conscious decision-making, in full awareness of the consequences/benefits, and no regrets is how I decide to live.

        All the best to you to, Juan!
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          Jun 10 2013: Thanks for the link. And thank you for your wonderful contributions to TED. TED is one of the most valued and valuable sources of information on the internet. And you should be quite proud to be part of that. I know that w/the right skill set, I would be very proud and even honored to contribute to TED. Thank you for helping make TED possible.
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          Jun 14 2013: Hi Lizanne, your comment on making decisions caught my eye, as I am facing one right now. I have had extensive surgery to reconstruct my face after tumor removal. Unfortunately, my second nose was rejected, and it turned black and then fell off (this is not the bad part). So, a rib and the backs of my ears were removed to create a new nose, with a forehead flap used as replacement skin. The surgeries were painful and the recovery was long. Now here's the bad part, the scar tissue resulting from the new nose is blocking my airways. I feel like I am suffocating and wake up gasping for air everyday. As the scar tissue progresses, it will block my airway and I will either have a stoke of simply die in my sleep. I have had seven surgeries in an effort to create new airways (something that will prevent me from suffocating in my sleep), all to no avail. My face is collapsing and I am now faced with the great big decision to undergo yet another very extensive, very painful and long term treatment, or risk the chance of suffocation. (I remember a time long ago when my biggest decision was what flavor to have in my morning coffee. ) Like you, I am a mother and a wife, so I kind of feel obligated on this, and pressured by the family, (many surgery decisions were based on the premise that I owed it to my family) although I don't wish to go through with it. Seems like and easy answer - just do it right? ....on the other hand it will be extremely expensive and a burden to those taking care of me. Now the decision - I wonder if it is just god's plan for me, after all I did fight the good fight, undergoing a total of 14 surgeries, and chemotherapy. Should more be expected of me, or is this my decision to make. The path in front of me has a fork, and I don't like either direction. Is it my decision to move forward either way? It is confusing, and emotional and I have read your comments on many issues and would love to hear your comment on this one.
      • Jun 15 2013: Amy, I just read your story, and am filled with all kinds of emotions about it!!!

        I can't help but think, there MUST be other options for you!!! Have you thought about or received a second opinion? Suffocating is NOT an option! Neither is more invasive surgery - at one point, your body and mind has taken all it can take! I have had multiple surgeries on my knee, and when I finally decided to let it go and accept it as it was, in the knowledge it would only get worse, I admit some people thought I had 'given up'. However, my condition was, and is, in no way life-threatening! I can manage with a broken knee, but my dear Amy, you need to be able to breathe!!!

        Wow, on the other hand, it seems like you have made your decision, it's just a question of informing your family, who, naturally, are putting that pressure on you because they love you to pieces!

        I see very clearly how this feels like the biggest fork in the road you'll ever encounter.
        Have you thought about therapy, to work out what it is you really want? You remind me a lot of me - my decision-making is often influenced by others, especially when it concerns my own life... You spoke about being 'a burden', and that 'more should be expected of you'. Perhaps those external influences are clouding your own judgement? I can understand that! Like I say, your family wants you to be around, they are willing to do whatever it takes! I wonder, however, if they understand if YOU are willing to go that far...

        It's a matter of weighing options, the pros and cons, talking openly about this with your family. Judging by what you've said, it sounds like you need support from your family to do what YOU feel is right. Only you can judge what your body can handle, and it's been through so much already...!

        Which brings me back to other options...
        Would the purpose of operation be to remove the scar tissue so you can breathe easier again?
        I wonder if the scar tissue wouldn't just come back?
        oops, out of characters...
      • Jun 15 2013: Continued...!

        About the scar tissue, that's the case with me knee - your body will want to fix and protect that part of itself, it really doesn't know or care about the fact that it's obstructing your breathing!!
        Ok, so if it were removed, and you can breathe easily again, what are the options. What about a prosthetic nose, instead of more surgery to make a new one?

        I can imagine how confusing this must be for you!!! My advice right now - make a list, on your own, by yourself. Reflect on what is MOST important to YOU. Write everything down, no editing! Purge your thoughts. If you want, you are welcome to share them with me (via private message, if you want!) I would really love to help you with this - although it is a decision only you can make, Amy, you are NOT alone in making it!!!

        Much strength!
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          Jun 15 2013: Hi Again Lizanne and Juan: First let me thank you both for the love and concern. As far as options let me assure you that I have really done my research on this. I have been to some of the very best plastic and reconstructive surgeons both on PA and NJ. I was rejected by the chief plastic surgeon of the University of Pennsylvania (Oren Friedman), because of the complicity of my case. First, there is the extensive scar tissue that we discussed, then there is the autoimmune factor which is a result of the chemo, then there is yet another factor called warm auto immune hemolytic anemia, which is an antibody that is in remission. The amount of antibiotics necessary for a surgical recovery could jeopardize my remission, and bring back the antibody, which may cause me to die. So although I did find some wonderful surgeons out there, none would take my case. I then saw a show on Discovery Health Network which focused on a surgeon by the name of McKay McKinnon who does complicated and risky surgeries that no other doctor will touch. I wrote to him and he agreed to see me, but he is in Chicago. So I packed my bags and went to Chicago in Feb. to meet with him. When he examined me, he found that the scar tissue has grown from the nose, through the sinuses and attached itself to my palet, causing the beginning of a frozen mouth and speech slurring. I returned to New Jersey and in March had a portion of my upper palet removed to free the tissue from taking over. I also had something called "trumpets" installed which went from the outer nose all the way to the throat. I had to feed myself with a catheter and the pain and stress was unbearable. They were removed five weeks ago, and within two weeks I suffered a 90% collapse of the sinus cavity and an immediate build up of scar tissue. That is where I am today. I need to figure out if I have the strength to put the trumpets back in for a period of 8 weeks - with pain, total isolation and no food, or stop the madness. pt. 2..

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