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I have been a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell for some time now.  Not only is his work straightforward and accessible, but he consistently offers a new perspective on life challenges and questions I always seem to have lurking in the back of my brain.  Plus, the psych academic in me gets giddy and excited with the overwhelmingly interesting research he introduces.

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As soon as I got my hands on Blink, I was very curious to see what Gladwell would make of our rapid decision making processes.  Namely, would he offer any conclusive insight into intuition?  That is, is it real?  If it is, is it valuable and should we trust it?  Should we trust it more than logic?

Turns out it’s a little of both.  The research indicates that when it comes to making straightforward choices, deliberate and rational analysis is more effective.  For instance, is that person attractive? Simple question that takes just a few moments to resolve.  When the choice is more personal, requires more analysis, and tends to have many different variables, our unconscious thought process is more effective.  Such as, what career path do I want to take?  Gladwell's conclusion was surprising because I have always thought the contrary to be true.          

I wanted to share Blink on the blog because I feel it makes a strong case for trusting your instincts, something I myself am not particularly good at.  Gladwell repeats throughout the book that we live in a world that prioritizes thinking before action, look before you leap type analysis.  While this is absolutely an integral part of navigating and interpreting the world, it isn’t the only way for us to make good choices.  We also make effective decisions when we just, well, jump.  Though Gladwell does not offer step-by-step instructions to improve our instincts, Blink opens the door to understanding just what type of snap judgments are worth trusting.  Fundamentally speaking, when your gut tells you something seems fishy, it most likely is and it’s in your best interest to take note.

So, while I am disappointed he did not tell me how to harness my rapid decision making capability (i.e. DIY psychic), he does effectively explain the duality that exists between our conscious and unconscious selves.  Most importantly, it's worth acknowledging, investigating, and listening to.

 

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