When I was in my 20s I trained myself not to want things. Absurd, I know. But so I did. I wanted only to do the right thing and not let my own will get in between. How do you train such a thing you may wonder? I was very systematic. If I noticed an inkling to want to stay at home to watch the latest episode in a TV-series I was following, instead of doing something I ought to be doing, I immediately stopped following that series. If I caught myself looking forward to reading a certain book, I immediately ceased reading at all for a weak.
I was quite successful in my training. The tragedy was only that my successful training in quenching my own will did not make me any fitter to become a loving human being, a light in the world, a representative of a loving and caring universe. I had stopped caring for myself, and how could I then know how to care for others?
I started having problems making choices in simple everyday situations. What movie do you want to see? Do you want pasta or meat for dinner? Do you want to go for a walk? Or would you prefer to stay indoors and cuddle up on the sofa? I could not answer these questions. I simply didn’t know any more what I wanted, or how to choose between alternatives. I had trained the passion out of my decision making.
My friends and significant others got annoyed at me and thought me a spineless being without a will of my own. But that wasn’t my problem at all. I felt I had strong integrity and I was not accommodating to others out of a will to please them, I just didn’t care enough to make a specific choice.
So I had to relearn how to choose. I learnt the rational model for decision making. I learnt how to weigh pros and cons. I drew charts and calculated values for different options. I thought I was doing really well. Now I could present an array of reasons for and against all the options I was presented with. This movie had certain advantages and disadvantages, and the other movie had another set of them. However, my friends weren’t happy with me now either. They didn’t want an analysis, they wanted to know what I wanted, what I felt like doing. I had disappointed them again.
Back to the drawing board, I realized that I needed to allow space for my gut feeling, my intuition, to breathe some life into my decisions. Intuition was for me then something irrational and almost dangerous. But as I studied recent research about intuition I found that it is nothing spooky about what we call our gut feeling.
As a chess master sees not the individual chess pieces any more, but sees the total board pattern and knows instinctively what move is the best to make, this is not guesswork, but the result of having integrated thousands and thousands of chess games and patterns. In the same way, by interacting with other people I learn to interpret patterns rather than individual details. From experience, my mind has recorded certain facial expressions going together with me feeling hurt, and now my intuition can tell me to be aware of a certain person, because my mind has recognized a pattern, some subtle facial muscles moving, without my conscious mind having to get drawn into it.
My sadly neglected intuition was barely alive, but I revitalized it. I discovered methods and research on how to train your intuition and how to use it in decision making in both small and large decisions. Hand in hand with rational methods of decision making, I found my intuition very useful in landing me in choices that in the long run feels good. Then I went into investigating what roles social support and embodied experiences have for my decision making and got all the more intrigued by the immense complexity of decision making.
Years of investigating the art of making choices have made me eager to share my findings. Being a university professor in philosophy, I considered writing a book about the philosophy of decision making. But then I realized that I wanted to reach out not only with a theoretical book, but I also wanted to be there with people struggling with making choices, not knowing how to choose between different alternatives, or feeling overwhelmed with the sheer amount of decisions having to be made each day, maybe even on the verge of decision fatigue.
So I started nursing the idea of creating a digital experience training course for decision-makers of all kinds, challenging you to accept the mission to create a personalized scientific and reliable strategy to reduce decision making stress within 6 weeks. And here it is!