I love snap decisions. I've never taken a bite of grapefruit but I hate the stuff. I gleefully judge books by their cover and avoid eye contact with the man wearing high heels on the metro. When I found Winnie the Pooh figurines at the dollar store I bought 60 of them to sell on eBay (alas, no one will buy the poor dears). I chose my major in undergrad in 20 minutes by sitting down with the course catalog and finding the major with the fewest hours. I decided what to name my child by playing "Rock, Paper Scissors" with my husband.
In the past, this trait is something I've chalked up to "character." I'm impatient, thus most of my life decisions are alloted 10 seconds or less to make. But I picked up the book "Blink" this week by Malcolm Gladwell and suddenly everything that I thought was beautifully rash, insane and quirky about my "snap decisions" now begins to look deathly rational. In essence, the book explains how your subconscious mind is highly trained to take all factors into account and make quick, accurate decisions on our conscience mind's behalf.
Most of the time.
Sometimes these snap decisions go horribly wrong. The trick then is figuring out which decisions to trust to my subconscious and which to put some elbow grease into.
My most momentous snap decision was to marry . We describe it to friends as "love at first sight" for lack of a better explanation. had dated every girl at BYU and I would fall in love with anyone who made eye contact. From what I can gather by listening to his dating chronicles, I was simply the last girl he hadn't dated on campus. Luckily for him, he made eye contact. By the end of our first date we had agreed to go to Costa Rica on our honeymoon. Twenty one days later we were engaged. Six months after that we found ourselves chasing a spider monkey out of my backpack on a deserted Costa Rican beach. I like to believe that behind this seemingly random hook-up there were deep, inspired mental realizations on both of our parts. But I can't be sure.
The book specifically says that when people are pressed to analyze the reasons behind a snap decision they frequently get it wrong. Sometimes, Gladwell writes, it's better just to go with it. In the past when friends ask me why I decided to marry so quickly, I've ducked my head and sheepishly admitted to our uninformed selection process. I'll usually conclude the story with, "lucky for us it worked out" and a nervous laugh. Thanks to the wealth of sketchy scientific conclusions in Gladwell's book, now when people are skeptical about our hasty hook-up I can simply reference the studies in "Blink" and ask them why in the world it took them 10 years to get engaged. Anybody with half a brain should know not to use it.
I won't recommend the book. It bugs me when people try to shove books down my throat when all I'm trying to do is make it through the day without getting pooped on. But I will suggest that if you ever have a spare hour and the book happens to be propped open in your lap to read a few pages. You may find that your decision to get the word "Loser" tattooed on your forehead all those years ago in a drunken haze was actually the smartest decision you've ever made. Let's hope so.