Thursday, April 2, 2009

How We Decide

I just finished yet another incredible neuroscience book, this one is How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer. It’s easily readable and I highly recommend it.
In case you think you make all your decisions logically and rationally, I’ve got news for you. Without input from your emotional circuitry you’d never make a single one. It turns out there’s a real need for the emotional parts of our mind to contribute valuable information when we have decisions to make, both big and small.
If you’ve ever wondered why you get confused when there is too much information (think new car purchase) this book will help you understand.
Let’s face it, there are some things you don’t have to think about. You have practiced certain activities a long time. If you’re a musician, airline pilot, or an athlete, certain decisions are made seamlessly and seemingly without any thought at all. In fact, when you start to think, really think about the performance of your specialty, it can go completely into the weeds.
Trust me, there are also times it is imperative that you apply rational thought to your choice-making. You need to know which occasions call for a cool rational response and when to blend your logic with information from your non-verbal mind. This book takes time to explain which decisions call for which type of input. And why they are both of critical importance.
I’m taking it a step further. As an art therapist, I think making art (as a non-verbal method of problem-solving) and reviewing it with a knowledgeable professional (adding words to help clarify your imagery) can help you make important decisions. What a supportive way to work through complex issues.