6 Surprising Ways to Make Better Decisions

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When it comes time to make a big decision in your life, you want all the help you can get. Fortunately, there are some completely random things you can do to increase your chances of making the right decision. 

1. Get Angry

While you might think of angry people as irrational jerks, numerous studies have shown that getting worked up before listening to both sides of an argument makes you more likely to agree with the stronger/correct side. Even for people who are not naturally analytical, getting pissed off improves their ability to think logically and leads to better decision making.

2. Hold Your Pee

Having a bladder full to bursting can be a great thing when you need to make a decision, especially one where you need to control your baser instincts. So the next time, for example, you are trying to decide what to make for dinner, wait until you really need to pee and you will probably be more likely to choose the healthy option.

3. Procrastinate

If you have ever found yourself cleaning absolutely anything to avoid doing work, you are making a very good decision. “Active procrastination,” or doing something productive to avoid working on something else, is a good thing according to science (passive procrastination, where you sit on the couch eating chips, is still a bad thing.) And by putting decisions off until the last second you give yourself more time to think about them, which is a positive. Research shows this is true for virtually any area of thought, from sports to military strategy to dating.

4. Go With Your Gut

Trusting your initial or gut feelings has an almost magical way of working out. One study found that when presented with a choice of two cars to buy, the group that went with their first impression picked the better car 45 percent more often than the group that had detailed information about each. But it gets weirder, people who go with their gut are also significantly better at correctly deciding things that will happen in the future, including the weather, the stock market, and elections.

5. Read a Novel

Reading literary fiction dramatically improves your ability to understand and empathize with other people, therefore improving your decision-making skills. Even reading just ten pages of a novel will make you better able to see other people’s points of views and to understand where they are coming from, which allows you to take their feelings into consideration when making a decision.

6. Learn a Foreign Language

Because foreign languages are always a bit alien to us, they don’t affect us emotionally as much as our native tongue—which can be a good thing when making decisions. Since the emotional framework that surrounds many decisions doesn’t touch you in a different language, it's easier to concentrate on the facts and make a logical decision based on them alone.

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December 12, 2013 - 5:00pm
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