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Decision-making Hobbies

On the requirements for good decision-making, and how hobbies can help us make better decisions.

Making decisions is integral to life. Making good decisions is essential for a good life. Reevaluating decisions we’ve made can further improve our lives.

Good decision-making has a few aspects.

Assessing and processing skills, and decision-making

Decision-making is comprised of many skills. First, there are assessing skills such as research, observation, and listening skills. Then, there are processing skills such as analytical and critical thinking skills.

But even after we’ve gathered as much information as possible and processed it to the best of our abilities, it’s still sometimes hard to make a decision. Not everything is quantifiable and comparable, and there are always uncertainties that remain.

Self-confidence, and decision making

Facing the unknown, we have mainly ourselves to count on. Having stronger confidence in ourselves – our intuitions, beliefs, and values – can make decision-making easier.

A coherent self, and decision-making

But still, even when we know or feel what decision we should make, we can be hesitant. One thing that can withhold us from making a decision is the notion of a consistent self.

Most of us try to maintain a coherent narrative of ourselves. In this mindset, every decision we make becomes a permanent part of our story, of ourselves. Furthermore, when we make a decision we give up on options, this might feel like giving up potential paths for our personal story.

That’s committing, and intimidating.

There is an alternative notion of the self, though:

In Buddhism, the term anattā (Pali: अनत्ता) or anātman (Sanskrit: अनात्मन्) refers to the doctrine of “non-self” – that no unchanging, permanent self or essence can be found in any phenomenon.


Internalizing the fact that everything changes, including ourselves, can make decisions feel less committing and less intimidating. It can also make it easier to reassess past decisions and humbly make changes if they are required.

Mindfulness, and decision-making

In essence, decision-making requires seeing things clearly. Seeing things clearly requires a clear mind. Unfortunately, many times our minds are cluttered, clouded, and restless.

That’s why mindfulness is an underlying quality that supports all requirements for good decision-making:

We suggest that mindfulness may help notice when a decision should or could be made, increase goal awareness, enhance consistency of the decision with one’s fundamental values, facilitate option generation, reduce the sunk cost bias, and help recognize ethical challenges of decisions.

We further argue that while mindfulness may diminish the scope of information search, it may also improve the quality of information used to make a decision. It may also reduce confirmation bias and overconfidence, allow decision makers to better differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information, reduce reliance on stereotypes, help appreciate uncertainty and productively deal with it, and reduce illusory pattern detection.

Furthermore, mindfulness is likely to facilitate resolving trade-offs and help effectively reconcile intuition with analysis thereby reducing procrastination.

Finally, mindful decision makers are more likely to learn to make better decisions over time because they are more open to feedback and less prone to misinterpret it by making self-serving attributions.

Improving Decision Making Through Mindfulness by Natalia Karelaia, Jochen Reb :: SSRN

Hobbies can help us become better decision-makers

Hobbies can help us with all aspects of decision-making. Hobbies can help us practice and improve our assessing and processing skills. They can also help us develop a healthier concept of the self and stronger self-confidence. And above all, hobbies can help us become more mindful.

black and yellow chess pieces
Engaged in hobbies, we make meaningful, non-critical decisions.

Hobbies provide a distinctive platform for honing our decision-making skills. On one hand, our hobbies are pursuits that we are deeply passionate about. On the other hand, we engage in them purely for personal satisfaction, not for rewards or the approval of others. This unique context allows us to practice making decisions that hold personal significance, yet do not carry critical consequences for our lives or those of others.

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