To summarize the work of Gilbert, Ariely, and Kahneman:
(1) The brain operates using two systems of hardwiring. System one is the most primitive and operates as a reflex of gut instinct. With its quick response time, system one jumps to make decisions to conserve energy. (2) System one is always at odds with system two, a more recently developed schema that allows for self-control and sustains attention at the expense of energy usage and system two will only take over when it is permitted to by system one. (3) Both systems are operating in a neurological ecosystem that compresses memories for efficient storage at the cost of memory quality. When the memory is recalled as a scaffold for decision making, the brain fills in the lost details using what it perceives as relevant information, regardless of what actually happened. (4) The brain is terrible at filling in the missing information. This process is necessary because of a fault in the physiological wiring of the eye. The blind spot created at the junction between the retina and the optic nerve leads to a permanent blind spot in the field of vision. When the impulse is sent from the eye to the brain, the brain uses memories and contextual clues to fill in what is missing. This process serves a need in visual processing, but for some reason has persisted in other areas of the brain dealing with information processing.
Understanding the brain’s ability to manipulate both one’s past and future can have far-reaching implications for the field of coaching. Kahneman’s work explains how the brain’s extemporaneous system one can jump to conclusions, preventing a more pragmatic and analytical approach to decision making, and how this system can generate lofty expectations which when not met can result in a slew of negative feelings and outlooks. When working with a client, uncovering and changing their core false beliefs can be a crucial exercise in overriding the impulsivity of system one and creating space for the conscious operation of system two. Ariely and Gilbert insist on the brain’s need for comparison in order to make sound and informed decisions. By helping a client identify a list of core values that resonate with their life desires and personal belief system, they carry with them a moral measuring stick. Having an identified set of comparable values allows clients to examine situations through a “values lens,” allowing them to quickly compare the options and make informed decisions that resonate with their desired future. By empowering a client to understand and then manipulate the normal functions of the human brain, clients are endowed with the ability to make informed decisions on a more regular basis. The sum of these small decisions will lead them to the desired and fulfilling life they are striving to achieve.Download Article 1K Club