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Be a Cognite Miser


Yesterday afternoon as I cooked, I listened to one of the more recent Art of Manliness podcast episodes with Ramit Sethi. He spoke about many things but one thing I heard him address is "being a cognitive miser". This comes back to ideas around eating the same thing for a meal, having a capsule wardrobe and the psychological fact that we are more likely to fail in making the right decisions as the day goes on as we exhaust our cognitive resilience.

Another thing I've heard before along this light is too many decisions can cause us not to make one. I remember coming across a series a couple of years ago that cited the grocery store and how overwhelming it can be (Economist). If we have too many pasta sauces to choose from, choosing one can feel impossible and therefore not happen or cause stress. This morning while listening to NPR I heard the same thing but from a completely different angle. A Syrian photographer that has been in regular contact with NPR documenting what he has seen under anonymity, recently spoke of escaping to Lebanon. He spoke of being able to enjoy a meal, orange, or apple for the first time in years. When when visiting a supermarket, the amount of choices were actually impossible for him. He had become so restricted in his access that abundance is now overwhelming to him.

These are all wildly divergent things but they make me think about the level of decision making in my life. How do I continue to further refine them and make use of easier channels. A couple things

  1. Yesterday I drove over to Aldi to pick up some things but found them closed due to Easter. As I headed back home, contemplating where I should go as a backup I passed Shop n' Save. I turned in. While I didn't think about it much at the time, before I entered the store and as I was exiting I could feel the fact that the store is SO big compared to Aldi. What it lacks in selection, Aldi is fast and dense. Which is nice.

  2. It also makes me think of the St. Louis Hop Shop down on Cherokee compared to buying beer at the grocery store. That more intimate and personal experience is good because, I get to support local business but just as importantly, I know I have access to experts with a smaller curated selection that I know is going to be good and if I have questions they're going to help me. This makes me think of craft beer at the grocery store as more than just a price tag now. Is it worth a dollar or two extra to lower the decision making threshold?


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