It turns out that we’re not as objective as we think we are. We want to think we’re rational. The things that you’ll gravitate toward and stick with will be those that you identify most closely with – you like what that that thing represents and why it exists.
Justifying Our Happiness
Does your happiness matter? Yes! In one breath, you think, “Of course!” In the next moment, you’ll be wondering if you’re being irresponsible or selfish. For some reason, we can feel guilty when we’re happy at work. And if we ever find ourselves feeling happy, we try to compile object reasons why it’s ok to be doing things as we are. We try to prove why this is ok.
Are You Objective?
In his book “Start with Why”, Simon Sinek talks about Apple, Inc. quite a bit. He offers them as an example of a company that has a clear sense of why they do business: to challenge the status quo and “Think Different”.
When an Apple user is asked why he likes his computer, he says, that person will try to come up with a list of objective reasons why. But this is merely because he can’t easily verbalize the real reason for why he uses Apple. The real reason is closer to that person getting a specific feeling from Apple. This feeling is some personal identification or association with the company and what it represents.
When a person is asked why he married the person he did, he says, he might say “because she’s witty” or “because she’s kind”. Again, we attempt objective reasons. But the reason is really something closer to how she made us feel. Sometimes we try so hard to be objective that we make statements that don’t even make sense: “She completes me.” :) What does that even mean?
Trust Your Gut
When it’s decision time we attempt to be objective. We list pros and cons. But we have affinities. We shouldn’t be affraid to follow our instinct. If we go with our gut and rely on the reasoning of our limbic brain, our decisions come faster and often with higher quality. And the results are often more inspiring to ourselves and others. We have a higher reason – a why – for doing things.
We can try to be objective. But this is not why people make decisions. This is not why people stay loyal to products or companies or brands or people. They must feel inspired and attached. They must find some identity in why you do things.
Embrace Your Non-Objective Choice
I recently watched a talk on Mobx vs. Redux by Preethi Kasireddy. It’s a comparision of both libraries, which both manage long-term state of UI applications. She weighs many aspects where one library outranks the other. In the end, what is her answer? “Pick a tool that makes you a happy developer”. Exactly. There were interesting things to consider in the objective breakdown. But in the end, a choice must be made. It won’t be by formula. You’ll make a choice based on what you identify most with.
The reason that some people use one thing and other people use the other isn’t primarly because they’ve weight the objective reasons, paired them precisely with their current circumstance, and made a mathematically-sound decision to use one based on the metrics of its merits. They simply found one that espoused the principles that they share. They got a feeling of belonging when they used it. They identified with it.
In thinking about how rational you are (or aren’t), are there decisions you would make again, trusting your intuition more?