Do you agree with the idea that what we do with our lives is a matter of choice? Have you ever been inspired to change something about your life by changing how you think or feel? What would you modify if you had the power to change it? How can we all choose differently?
Arghh!!! So many thoughts are popping up – Well, yes, that’s something that happens to most of us at almost every moment in our lives. We constantly make micro-choices that control our everyday decision-making.
What If I tell you, you can nurture the freedom to choose better, which will help you think and decide better through some powerful strategies!
The power of choice is one of the most powerful tools available to humans to help them decide on their next step. Understanding the power of choice in life will give you the freedom to make choices that matter. Decisions that will improve your life on the whole and not just one or two aspects of your life.
In this post, I will cruise you through some powerful techniques of making choices, what is choice in psychology, its importance, and how to exercise the power of choice effectively.
What Is Choice In Psychology?
The power of choice is nothing but the ability to choose. You do not need to be an expert in making choices. Sometimes it is easy to decide when there are various options and a lot of information available.
However, this is not always the case. There are many times when you have to choose, and you need to decide based on little or no information available.
If you don’t understand the power of choice, you will not be able to make the right choices for yourself or others. Before you understand how to exercise the power of choice, let me acquaint you with the potential it brings through a case study and the importance of choice in psychology.
Understanding The Power Of Choice
You interact with everyone around you all day through people, places, ideas, things, and your internal dialogues, and so on. Once you unlock the power of choice, you have a choice in how you respond to everything that happens to you.
The majority of our daily decisions are insensitive and instantaneous. We tend to be so accustomed to that auto-pilot state that we stop consciously considering many of the choices we confront.
Let’s understand that with the famous Marshmallow Experiment –
Walter Mischel, a Stanford professor, began conducting a series of critical psychological studies in the 1960s. Mischel and his colleagues tested hundreds of kids, most of whom were between the ages of 4 and 5.
They led each child into a quiet space, seated them in a chair, and placed a marshmallow in front of them. Then researcher offered the child a deal.
The researcher briefed the child that he was going away for now from the room and that if the child did not consume the marshmallow in his absence, they would be rewarded with a second marshmallow. However, if the child ate the first marshmallow before the researcher returned, they would not receive a second marshmallow.
So the decision was simple: one treat now or two later on. For 15 minutes, the researcher left the room.
As you might imagine, the footage of the children waiting alone in the room was quite amusing. As soon as the researcher shut the door, some kids ate the first marshmallow at the first chance. Others tried resisting but succumbed a few minutes later. Finally, a few of the kids were able to wait the entire time.
This eminent research, reported in 1972, became known as The Marshmallow Experiment, but it wasn’t the treat that made it popular. The exciting observations came up later on.
Come on in, let’s find out what the observations hold for you and how that power of resisting instant gratification can help you in the long run.
How Can The Power Of Choice In Life Help You?
As time passed, the researchers held follow-up studies and monitored each child’s development in various areas. What they discovered was unforeseen. Children willing to forego gratification and wait for the second marshmallow seemed to achieve more in life. They had higher SAT scores, lesser drug abuse, a reduced likelihood of unhealthy lifestyles, better stress management, stronger social skills as noted by their parents, and elevated performances overall in other aspects of life.
The study was extended on the same group for more than 40 years, and the group that patiently waited for the second marshmallow succeeded in whatever capacity they were measuring.
In other words, this set of experiments illustrated that the capacity to postpone gratification was critical for long-term success.
And if you look around, you’ll notice this happening all over.
- You will learn more and get better grades if you delay the pleasure of watching television and focus on your studies.
- If you can resist the lure of buying fast food, you’ll eat healthier at home.
- You’ll be stronger if you postpone the gratification of finishing your workout early and put in a few more reps.
Choosing the discomfort of discipline over the ease of distraction is usually the key to success. That is precisely what delayed gratification is all about, and it’s all about the power of choices you make.
Are you wondering if you have free will to decide, why is it that humans generally pursue the pleasant? Indeed, they can both be sought; however, they are not recognizable by individuals of limited intellect.
We continuously meet with the choice between two paths –
- The bait of pleasant sensual enjoyment and momentary ego satisfaction,
- The commitment to do what is beneficial and good in the long run. The second choice will help us achieve lasting, eternal fulfillment.
Individuals of limited discernment ability cannot often distinguish between the pleasant and the good as they often become mingled. In contrast, the intelligent man examines both the pleasant and the good and separates them after considering their relative importance and prefers the good over the nice.
What Is The Importance Of Decision Making In Psychology?
Each person has a unique perspective on what is essential and what helps them feel the best. Decision-making about what you want to do is critical because it gives your life meaning. Making resolutions about what is vital to you allows you to be more self-sufficient and in control of your life.
We form opinions and choose actions through mental processes influenced by prejudices, reason, feelings, and memories when making decisions. The simple act of deciding lends support to the theory of free will.
We weigh the advantages and disadvantages of our choices, and then we deal with the consequences. This fact alone demonstrates how vital is decision-making and optimizing the power of our options.
How To Exercise The Power Of Choice?
Despite the popularity of the Marshmallow Experiment, you should remember that these studies are only one piece of data, a small glimpse into the success story. Human behavior (and life in general) is far more complicated than that, so let’s not assume that one decision made by a four-year-old (as published in the research) determines the rest of their life.
To achieve success in almost any field, you must forego doing something easier (delaying gratification) in pursuit of doing something more challenging. The vital message here is that you can train yourself to hold up gratification with the help of the following steps –
- Train yourself to delay gratification in the same way that you would train your muscles in the gym.
- Keep a small reward for yourself once you reach your goal.
- Be optimistic and continue your efforts without exerting stress on yourself.
- Begin with small goals and continue to reward yourself regularly. Fifteen minutes of daily exercise, for example, or daily meditation.
- Repeat until your brain says, “Yes, it’s worth it to wait,” and it gets into the auto-pilot mode.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to stop instant gratification?
Keep a check on your temptations; watch how these urge you. Whenever you feel distracted, put in a conscious effort, reward yourself whenever you achieve the smaller goals. Practice gratitude to resist the temptations for instant gratification. With these small changes and with persistent practice, you can stop the urge for instant gratification.
Why do I struggle with decision-making?
If you wonder what is the root cause of indecisiveness, the reasons could be any independent factor or a combination of a few factors. Fear of losing or failing to achieve the goals, overthinking about the consequences of taking action, thoughts of what others will respond, or extreme perfectionism might be the reasons you struggle with decision-making.
What is Aboulomania disorder?
Aboulomania is a condition in which the patient experiences a mental disorder due to feeble willpower or pathological indecision. Stress, anxiety, depression, and mental anguish are common symptoms of aboulomania. In extreme situations, this can result in suicide.
Success in both secular and spiritual fields is dependent on doing the right thing. Choosing the right thing over the pleasant thing necessitates the ability to postpone gratification. But it is sure from the studies above: if you want to find success at something, disciplined action is a must. Don’t overthink, start with smaller targets.
We are all blessed with the ability to exercise discretion. No other creature possesses this ability, and no human can avoid this obligation. Every second, whether we know it or not, we have a choice between two options in what “we do, say, and think.”. If you acknowledge this power, you would not be troubled with the thought of “how do I become more decisive.”
The critical message here – if you can hang on to persistent disciplined action and delay instant gratification, you can get as many marshmallows instead of one. In simple words, you would taste success and happiness as you always wanted to.
Get Going. Good luck!
P.S. Recommended Read on how to build up mental strength.