When it comes to the difficult choices our friends and other people we’re close to have to make, we can be so insightful. We may be able to see the forest, the trees, everything that they’re having a hard time getting a grip on and can help set them on their best path. What job to take, who to be with, where to live — the answers can seem so clear. That’s because they’re not our problems.
With our problems, it’s a whole different story. We’re so invested in all the details, see all the options as having equal chances of success, and care so deeply about the outcome that we have no idea how to proceed. Thinking harder just makes things more confusing. That clarity of vision we have for others’ problems gets all blurry on us when we need it most.
Experimentation has led behavioral psychologist Dan Ariely to an ingeniously simple suggestion for how to gain access to that wisdom you have in such abundance for others people.
It requires just a little bit of imagination. Pretend the problem belongs to a specific, real person you actually care about, and think about it carefully, as you would for them, weighing the situation and options to arrive at a plan for them. Except it’s really for you.