Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our Choices Are Determined by Our Options

Suppose that, after a sumptuous meal at some friends' house, you are offered a choice of chocolate or vanilla ice cream for dessert.  You choose from the alternatives available to you. However, the person sitting next to you asks the host, "Are there any other alternatives, such a coffee-flavored ice cream, a pie, or  fruit dish?" The host says Yes and the other guest orders. Now, since these are three of your favorite desserts, you are disappointed with your choice.

Problem 1 with choice selection: Failure of Imagination. Insufficient recognizing of alternative options. (Rush to make a decision and get it over with.) If only you had known or asked about additional alternatives, you could have made a more satisfactory decision.

On the television show, Naked and Afraid, the two contestants  are allowed to take one item with them to help them survive in the jungle. In the past, contestants have chosen to take a pot, swimming goggles, or a flint-and-steel fire starter.

Now, everyone knows that the two most crucial things to have in a wild jungle of a forest are water and fire. Next would be a tool for digging, and a tool for chopping and a tool for sawing. So which two to pick?

The failure of imagination here occurs when the so-called survivalist candidate in the contest chooses a knife, sometimes a rather small, folding knife. And his partner, who might not choose a pot, instead selects a flint-and-steel fire starter. But to take the second case first, why a flint and steel? Why not just take a butane fireplace match? You can get hundreds of quick, long-lasting lights with it. And remember that the survival challenge is for 21 days, not the rest of your life.

Then to the knife. There is an abundant choice of survival knives available, many of them large enough to work as digging tools. Some have serrations on the top of the blade, making them useful as saws. And some have survival kits in the handle, including compass, matches, fish hook, fishing line, and so on. A few come with blade sharpeners. So one tool can cut, chop, dig, saw, produce fire, show compass directions, fish and do whatever else your imagination can discover.

Once again, we make our choices from the options we believe are available to us. To make better choices, identify more options. (It is said that people who kill themselves believe they have run out of other options.)

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