Psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman has focused his work on two systems of mental processing. The first system integrates perception and intuition, operates automatically, and requires little conscious thought. Think of this as relying on our existing mental models. The second system requires lots of energy, is more flexible, and allows us to make thoughtful and deliberate decisions. Think of this as changing our mental models. When we do something for the first time the second system is engaged. With repetition of the same experience, our responses become automatic and less conscious. In essence, we have encoded the decision rules for living the same life over and over again. That is how most of us live our lives. Although we change the content of our lives (new experiences), we are not changing the decision rules that allow us to participate in the creation of a larger life. In the words of poet David Whyte, “I turned my head and it became my life.” Doing the harder thing is one of the ways that we can awaken the second system and make it possible to break new ground, enlarge our horizons, and change the decision making rules that encourage us to live unconsciously.

 

 

 

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