Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles This video is sponsored, in part, by CuriosityStream. There's this one scenario I find myself in a lot: I'm trying to get home after a meeting; it's quicker to drive, so I call an Uber. And while I'm waiting, I realize the car is stuck in traffic. I could cancel and get the train⏤by now that might be quicker, and even with Uber's 5-dollar cancellation fee, it would still be cheaper. But I've already committed to the car. I've already invested this time waiting, and I'd still have to pay that fee. I'll just take the Uber. And then, we sit in that same traffic and I get home later⏤and for a higher price⏤than if I just took the train. We like to think that we always make rational decisions, but science shows that this isn't always the case. In not choosing the train, I couldn't see past my sunk cost bias, meaning we're more likely to choose something we've invested time or money in, even if it's not the best decision for our future wealth or happiness. Whether you realize it or not, you make dozens of decisions every day. Some of these decisions, like what you should eat for breakfast, aren't that important, while others, like whether you should take a new job, can have a big impact on your life. Making a big decision isn't always easy, and sometimes, you might not make the choice that's best for you. But, understanding more about what influences your decision-making and using certain techniques can help you make better decisions. Often, emotions like anger, fear, and sadness can cloud our judgements without us even realizing. For example, feeling angry can really affect the way that we make decisions. In a 2016 experiment, researchers asked participants to either write about an event that made them angry, an event that made them sad, or about their normal evening routine. Afterwards, participants performed a computer task that involved blowing up a simulated balloon. Each puff was worth money, but if they filled the balloon too much, it would burst and they would receive no money. In this experiment, people who wrote about an angry event made riskier choices in the balloon task. Other studies have found that feelings of sadness can affect your decisions about money by increasing how much you're willing to pay for something. And fear could lead you to make decisions that aren't logical. For example, someone with a fear of flying might choose to drive instead, even though⏤for equivalent distances⏤death rates for driving are much higher than those for flying. So, how can you make better decisions? First, try to make important ones in the morning. By analyzing online chess matches, researchers determined that people generally made slower but more accurate decisions in the morning and faster but less accurate decisions in the evening. In other words, if you're about to make a big decision late at night, sleeping on it and deciding in the morning might actually be a wise choice. Next, try to distance yourself from the situation. Have you noticed that it always seems easier to solve other people's problems than your own? There's actually a name for this⏤Solomon's Paradox. The story goes that the wise biblical King Solomon's advice was highly sought-after from other people, but he had a lot of personal problems which still lead to his kingdom's demise. People are often wise about problems where they're not involved. So, try to think about a situation from a third-person perspective⏤researchers call this wise reasoning⏤ and practicing it can increase your ability to recognize other people's points of view, understand the limitations of what you know, and, maybe, reach a compromise. Also, you can try mindfulness meditation to make better choices. A 2014 study found that just 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation prior to a decision-making task increased resistance to sunk cost bias, that tendency to keep doing something just because you've already put time or money into it. Meditation helped people make the best choice for their future success, regardless of previous actions. Making decisions isn't always easy. But, by understanding how things like your mood, the time of day, and previous events can bias your decision-making, you can train yourself to eliminate factors that predispose you towards bad decisions and make better decisions in your life. For me, when the city and trains and traffic become too much, I often dream of living in a tiny house. Seriously, I watch a lot of shows about them, including "Tiny House: Living Off the Grid" on CuriosityStream. CuriosityStream is the sponsor of today's video. They're a documentary streaming service and an easy decision when you're looking for something to watch because they have thousands of titles from the world's best filmmakers⏤everything from David Attenborough to "Tiny Houses". Unlimited access starts at 2.99 a month, but for BrainCraft viewers, the first 31 days are completely free if you sign up at CuriosityStream.com/braincraft and use the promo code "braincraft". Thanks!