Your brain works differently than anyone else’s– it has its own preferences, tendencies, and, sometimes, extremes. Do you tend to take risks without considering the consequences? Your brain might be extremely innovative. Or are you fabulous at paying attention to the details but sometimes miss the big picture? Your brain might be extremely practical. These extreme preferences could be a detriment to your overall satisfaction and decision making. This week, we will dive into your own brain’s extreme preferences + explore some tools for teaching your brain that there is indeed a different way to look at things.
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Up until last year, I would have called myself a risk-taker. I’ve jumped off tall waterfalls, lived in a cabin without electricity for a year, and moved to a town without knowing a soul or having a job because it seemed adventurous. My culture would call this type of person a risk-taker, but when I finally got the results of this test, the truth couldn’t be more clear:
I am actually a very evaluative decision maker. I am quite comfortable going to a different country, but watch me while I’m booking the flight. It takes me ages to research, analyze, and finally choose one. I rarely jump into anything without considering every single option, weighing the risks and benefits. Often times to my detriment. According to this research study, when making a decision, having more choices doesn’t always make you happier. At a jam tasting, participants were more satisfied when they had only 6 options of jam than when they had 24 options. So my tendency to over-analyze and look at every single option before making a choice might not make for the most satisfied Maria!
Because I’ve learned that my tendency in decision making is to over-analyze every decision, I am empowered to change my habit. When I am making a decision (especially small ones), I can rely on the fact that I will probably over-think it. So I try to do the opposite + make the decision quickly. These little changes that temper my brain’s extreme impulse to be evaluative have really improved my quality of life. And it turns out, tempering your brain’s extreme impulse could help you make better decisions, too. According to Six Seconds latest research, people who adopt a more balanced brain style are 14% more satisfied with their decisions.
So how about you—does your brain have an extreme impulse? Or maybe, like me, you always assumed you were one way, but once you take the test you’ll find the opposite! Time to dive into your extreme habit + explore ways to temper it:
Before you can get that 14% increase in your decision making, you need to consider what your extreme habit might be.
Consider these three categories, and decide if you might be on the extreme (far to one side or the other) on any of them (or, to know for sure, take the $10 test here).
Whether you focus too much on rational data vs. emotional data, are risk-averse or risk-tolerant, or focus on the practical details vs. the big picture, here’s one idea you can try right now.
Choose the category where you feel you are most extreme, then try the activity for it:
Rational extreme: Name one emotion you are feeling right now.
Emotional extreme: Look around the room and consider some rational data. What shape is the room? How many chairs are there? What type of floor?
Evaluative extreme: For one decision you have to make today, make a gut decision.
Innovative extreme: For one decision you have to make today, write down the pros and cons for three different options.
Practical extreme: Zoom out on your life; imagine that you can see your entire life from beginning to end all laid out on a line. What one word would you use to describe it?
Idealistic extreme: Think of a big goal you have + write down three concrete steps you can take TODAY to help get you succeed.
What emotions are brought up when you do something differently from your habit?
How would your life look differently if you tempered your extreme toward the middle?
Think about the closest people in your life; can you identify their extreme habit? How would you interact differently if you tempered your extreme?
See you next week!
Illuminate is a weekly e-mail series that provides practical tips + galvanizing inspirations for practicing an emotionally intelligent life. In our time together, we’ll operate from the assumption that you have all the wisdom you need inside of yourself + that you have a purpose the world needs to see. We will explore the tools + techniques to illuminate your own inner wisdom and purpose. If you’d like to receive this free gift of goodness in your inbox every week, subscribe here.
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