For about the past year or so, I have been listening to podcasts on all different sorts of subjects and one of my favorites is something called “Stuff to Blow Your Mind”, brought to you by the folks at The Discovery Channel. They cover subjects such as Science, History, Technology or the debunking of myths, but what I like most about it is that almost all of the episodes are about 30 minutes long, which just happens to be the length of my morning commute.
Just after the New Year, they released an episode called “New Year’s Life Hacks” which detailed simple lifestyle changes you could make to improve how you live your life. One of these that really caught my ear was concerning something called “Decision Fatigue”. It turns out there really is a limit to just how many responsible decisions we can make and that there is a finite store of mental energy for exercising self control. Social Psychologist, Roy Baumeister, who has done extensive research on this subject says that this is the reason why otherwise reasonable people do irrational things.
Baumeister says that the mind knows when it’s running out of energy. It’s not that your brain stops working when glucose is low; it stops doing some things and starts doing others. It favors immediate rewards over long term prospects.
The trick is to consciously plan for your major decisions in advance and prepare accordingly. For example, if you’re planning on making a major purchase like buying an automobile, you should do your homework before ever setting foot in a dealership by knowing exactly which vehicle you want, what options you need and what price you intend to pay. Arrive at the dealership when it first opens and make sure that you have eaten a hearty breakfast prior to your arrival. Tell the salesman exactly what you want and what you want to pay for it, but make no mistake. He understands this psychology all too well. Why do you think he asks so many seemingly unrelated questions? He’s attempting to use up your limited supply of decisions and wear you down to the point where you’ll accept the product he wants to sell you at the price he wants you to pay. If you’re still there at lunch time and you still don’t have what you came to purchase, GET UP AND LEAVE. I think you’ll be surprised at just how fast he coughs up the deal you originally asked for. So by now, you may be asking yourself “What does all this has to do with Dudeism?”
The Dude wears practically the same attire every day.
The Dude plays only one sport.
The Dude only drinks one tasty beverage and therefore The Dude… uh… I think I lost my train of thought.
Oh well, until next time,
Take It Easy Man.