“A man who has committed a mistake, and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake.” Confucius
The quality of our decisions, our choices, determines the quality of our lives.
We’ve all seen chronically bad decision-makers. They make decisions off of emotion like love, anger, rage, even jealousy or envy, and they continually find themselves in bad situations, often blaming God or the universe or someone else for their predicament.
Good decision-makers seem to know how to remove emotion from the decision-making process. They look at the situation as it is, not as they wish it were. They see the variables that can influence whatever outcome they’re trying to create, and they make the correct decision with all of this information.
In the long run they will live better lives.
They will have fewer regrets. They will earn more money, have better relationships, be happier and healthier and achieve more with less effort.
This is why we should study decision-making. This is also why a book like Seeking Wisdom from Darwin to Munger, is so valuable.
The fact that it’s an easy read, with short, punchy sections that delve into real life examples of scenarios and circumstances of decisions we have to make in real life, mean you’ll actually enjoy reading it.
And by the end of the book you’ll be a better decision-maker than you were before.
You Are the Quality of Your Decisions
Life is a series of decisions.
Do I eat this or that?
Do I workout or watch TV?
Do I rise or sleep in?
Do I say this or that?
The importance of external circumstances pale in comparison to the importance of our own decisions.
To make the correct decision, and to make it more rationally in every area of your life, it’s a must to understand the influences that govern decision-making.
Seeking Wisdom dives into how our biology and evolution impacts our decisions – these are unconscious factors that influence why we decide to do what we decide to do.
It dives into the psychology of misjudgements – why we make mistakes. As well as the physics and mathematics of misjudgements, how to think in systems, scenarios, probability, and so on. Each factor helps us see different scenarios as they really are, and not as they appear to be at face value.
The book ends with maybe the most valuable section, in guidelines to better thinking. Creating mental models, understanding meaning, goals, consequences, risk, and how our attitudes influence our thinking.
As Charlie Munger says, “If you want to avoid irrationality, it helps to understand the quirks in your own mental wiring and then you can take appropriate precautions.”
Few take the time to do this, and thus, they continually make bad decisions, even in similar scenarios.
You see the guy who constantly chooses a horrible woman because he’s making the decision based off of looks and not other factors.
Or the gambler who can’t leave when he’s ahead because he always wants more.
Or the victim, who never takes responsibility for their own actions or decision-making and ends up living a sad, depressing, lonely, and unsuccessful life.
We are not victims of our psychology or biology, nor are we victims of our circumstances or surroundings.
Each of us has the ability to become better at making decisions, and studying the factors of proper, rational decision-making should really be taught early and often.
It isn’t, so we’re left to read books and educate ourselves, which is in itself a wonderful decision.
We, more than any other factor, are the thing that stands in the way of making the decisions that will lead us to have the life we want to have.
Famed American physicist, Richard Feynman put it like this, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”
You can see it in how you rationalize what you want versus what you need or ought to do.
You want ice cream, but to get lean and healthy you need a healthier option.
You want to think this woman is right for you, you curb your thinking and decision-making to fit this desire, even though the reality is that she’s horrible for you. You’re a bad fit. It will end in pain, and outside observers can see this, but you’ve fooled yourself into thinking otherwise.
Or the investment that you want so badly to workout, but it’s failing because it really is a bad company or a bad idea in general. Your desire for money without having to work for it outweighs your capacity to think about the situation rationally.
And so you hold and hold and hold, and before you know it your investment is gone and the company has failed.
As the book says, we do this by being more perceptive to things that affirm our current beliefs than things that deny them.
Francis Bacon put it like this, “it is the peculiar and perpetual error of the human intellect to be more moved and excited by affirmatives than by negatives; whereas it ought properly to hold itself indifferently disposed toward both alike.”
This problem, and many others, are covered within the pages of this wonderful book.
Not only does it delve into why we think the way we think, and how to think, but scenarios that help you better understand how these thought patterns and unconscious mental models or modes of thinking play out in the real world.
Hence, why I’d rate this book highly in its value, around a 5/5.
If you’re looking for a story, something to purely entertain you, this is not a book that will do that in the slightest.
But if you genuinely want to learn how to make more rational decisions and to understand why you make the decisions you currently make so you can make better decisions in the future, then you must read this book.
As a final note, when it comes to choosing things to read, choose those things that interest you.
There’s no point slaving through a book that doesn’t interest you in the slightest, even if it’s extremely valuable.
You won’t retain a single thing from a book that isn’t interesting to you. It will be a waste of time, a lot of time if you finish the thing.
If Seeking Wisdom sounds interesting. If you’re interested in psychology, physics, mathematics, philosophy, and the human mind, then get this book.
If you’re not interested by these things, then don’t.
The more you read the more interesting difficult topics become.
The first book I read was Evander Holyfield’s biography, because I always loved boxing and he was a favorite fighter of mine.
Only recently, within the last couple of years have I really moved into more difficult topics, and not because I thought it was time, but because I’ve found them very interesting.
Read what excites you, and read nothing else.