There are many books on psychology in the market today and one of the most famous ones is Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow. This bestseller book is a must read for anyone who desires to improve their mental performance. The books teaches you how to strategize effectively, think faster and make better decisions. The Author is one of Princeton University's most renowned professors of psychology. Moreover, he received the Nobel prize in Economic Sciences in the year 2002. This was the result of his work on decision-making and human judgment.
In this book, Professor Kahneman teaches you how to analyze situations in real time. He also shows you how to make decision on your feet, evaluate yourself, adapt and learn from your errors.n the book, Professor Kahneman shows us that we have two systems of thought. He named them system 1 and system 2. The first one is our intuition or our gut while system 2 is our logical train of thought. He goes through different situations where we use each type of system and the results that normally emerge. Here are some lessons we learned from Thinking Fast and Slow.
The most profound events in your life are unpredictable
Majority of us think that the events which happen in our lives are controlled by luck or destiny. In some cases, it is possible to prove that they actually are, however, most of the large events are not caused or controlled by these factors. For example, the births and early lives of the world's greatest leaders were totally unpredictable. Nobody knew that these innocent children would grow up to lead nations. As such, you should not live your life or make plans that are too concrete. Anything can change at any moment. Live your life as best as you can one moment at a time and you will achieve higher mental and physical performance. Daniel Kahneman calls this living in the present.
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Recognize your gullibility and protect yourself
Human beings are gullible by nature. According to Professor Kahneman, if something is repeated to us enough times, we tend to believe it. This is because our minds are not able to distinguish between familiarity and the truth. This is a fact that has been exploited by marketers and institutions that are authoritative. It gets even more dynamic, because of the principle of familiarity, If a statement is repeated to you several times, you are likely to believe it as well as anything that is said after the statement. As long as some of the statement is familiar, the rest feels the same and becomes true to you. Thankfully, in this book the author suggests a solution to this : use your system 2 to actively and logically guard against what you absorb repetitively.
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We are capable of fooling ourselves
The human mind is a very interesting faculty. This is because it is capable of fooling itself. When we are making decisions, we can bias them so that they fit into our traditions. This is a classic indication of using our system 1 to make a decision. This bias is interpreted as intuition and we feel as though we are making the right decision in doing this. Professor Kahneman indicates that we normally practice this phenomenon even if we have had some scientific training in making the decision in a measurable way. For example, many psychologists pick sample sizes for their research based purely on intuition instead of calculating the ideal sample size. In effect, they fool themselves into thinking they have made the right decision even if its practice will result in erroneous results. Thus, whenever you make a decision based on intuition, analyze it to find out if you are deliberately ignoring a tried and true procedure of doing things.
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We can be totally blind to the obvious and to our blindness
According to Daniel Kahneman, it is possible to be looking directly at a situation and completely miss something obvious. To prove this, he cites an experiment that was conducted by Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris. In this experiment, a group of viewers were told to watch a basketball game and perform a calculation. One team in the team wore white uniforms while the other wore black uniforms. They were told to calculate the number of passes made by the team in the white uniforms. After that, the game started and they got to playing.
During the game, a lady in a gorilla suit got into the court, performed some antics and left. After the game was over, the group counting the passes claimed not to have seen anything unusual. When they were told that there was a gorilla in the game, they all refused, and It was only after watching the game without performing any calculations that they discovered there actually was a gorilla in the court. In this way, Simons and Chabris proved that is is possible to be blinded by focusing too much on one detail in a situation. Moreover, it is possible to be blind to our own blindness. To counter this phenomenon, Daniel Kahneman encourages us to observe every situation from a broad point of view so as to analyse it properly.
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Be wary of overconfidence
One of the conditions of the human mind is a confirmation bias. This is where we allow overconfidence to affect our decision-making process, for example, although it is good to be optimistic about the future, this optimism should not be allowed to directly affect our decisions in the short term. When we do this, we are likely to use our intuitive system 1 to extend the recent, positive past into our immediate future. This can result in major mistakes of decision-making. For example, overconfident thinking can lead one to take big, illogical risks. If the result of these risks is negative, the effect can be devastating. As such, Professor Kahneman indicates that we should control our overconfidence before it leads us to make decisions that we will regret in the short term future.
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The Important Take Away
Professor Kahneman is currently at the forefront of human psychology. He is respected in this field and trusted to teach the students at Princeton University about the human mind. His book, Thinking Fast and Slow is considered a necessary read for learners of psychology. The lessons indicated above are all explained further in the book. To improve your thinking ability, read, learn and practice them in your day to day life.