We make hundreds of decisions every day. These decisions vary from the mundane to the complex such as:
Should I have a fruit shake for breakfast, a bowl of cereal, or just skip it because I’m late?
While playing chess with my son, what move should I make next as I predict his next set of moves?
According to Nobel winner Daniel Kahneman, we make decisions by deploying two systems—thinking fast and thinking slow. System 1 is thinking fast and is automatic, based on patterns that have developed in our brain from past experience and memory. In fast thinking, we rely on rules of thumb and preconceived notions. System 1 engages first, quickly and every time. Examples of fast thinking include driving a car on an empty road.
System 2 is thinking slow and is conscious, deliberate, and requires concentration, like chess moves. It is difficult, engages last, and takes more energy. Examples of slow thinking are completing a tax return or, a less taxing example, reading a menu at a restaurant and deciding what to order.
If all of our decisions required thinking slowly we would drain our energy and accomplish very little each day. These two systems are designed to work together to conserve energy and for survival.
I like to think of the two systems as two types of roads: the fast lane without stop signs and the local lanes through the town. How would looking down on life from the Lookout Tower make a difference?
I welcome your feedback.
Joy to you!
Author of “STOP! 21 STOPs to Reduce Stress and Enhance Joy”
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