Monday, September 6, 2010

Rational Thinking Options… Worse with Age?

My son Matt recently showed me a video by a gal who runs a comparative cognition lab at Yale ( ). While I don't agree with all her foundations, it did make me think about what we do and in particular why. It would seem that maturity should make us more rational and hence more able to change when we see ourselves acting irrationally, but in actuality the habits formed with age, even much past 10 years of age and definitely past the teens, make change nearly impossible.

In her research Laurie Santos found that when training monkeys to use a form of money as an exchange for food, they would do irrational things that humans also do … ex: overspend when the price went down and hoard. They also discovered some differences in reactions when something was clearly safe versus when there was risk of loss attached. I saw myself in that behavior – where I had always thought I was someone who could take risks, I realized that what I perceived to be risk taking was really based on perceptions I had of safety. That when I thought I would truly lose something very important to me, perhaps someone's positive opinion, I would not take risks. I thought I had grown to the place where I could accept criticism objectively, but realized I only accepted it in areas where I knew I was absolutely right. In those cases I would smile at the criticizer, but if I was insecure about something, the criticism still threatened.

So I set out on a new study of ancient Hebrew proverbs to see what I could learn about wisdom and rational thinking. Are there principles in this book that, if I truly followed them, would allow me to know I was making intelligent decisions in every area of my life? What are those principles? And how to they apply to business, faith, family? Could I, in fact, find enough courage to change in those areas in which I know have resisted? Nancy Dornan says that when an area of one's life is out of balance, it requires radical change to bring it back in balance. There are areas of my life way out of balance – in particular physical and financial. That is my quest these next 90 days – to discover what I need to do to bring them back, to courageously operate with radical changes of wise thinking, and to close 2010 out knowing it was the year of the biggest change ever in my life. And if I can do that, truly I can help others to do the same.

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