book summary Thinking Fast and Slow

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman [Summary]

The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

The main idea of the author, Daniel Kahneman, is to help us understand our decision-making process and the means behind the different human acts. Using this information he wants to inspire us to solve the problems we face daily faster and better. Basically, to train our minds and more specifically upgrade our problem-solving skills.

The Core Idea:

Our mind uses two different systems to handle and analyze the things happening around us: fast and slow. The first is quick in conclusions but can often be wrong. The second is slower but has a greater chance of finding the right solution. By constantly increasing your knowledge, you will aid your fast mind so it can make fewer mistakes and upgrade your slow one to act faster in distasteful moments were making the right decisions is crucial.

4 Key Lessons from Thinking Fast and Slow:

Lesson #1: Practice Gives Us a Better Point Of View

We’ve all heard stories about the intuition of the expert: the grandmaster who walks near chess street players and announces that the “white will checkmate in three moves” without even stopping. Or, the car mechanic who can tell what’s the problem with your car by only hearing how the engine works without even looking under the hood.

We often think that such people have something magical in them. Something out of this world. We think that these folks are born with this power. However, the truth is way different.

These people owe their success to the years of practice. They’ve spent a tremendous amount of time troubleshooting pretty much the same problems. Observing the same things over and over again. This tedious repetition eventually paid off. It allowed them to spot an issue or a potential threat by just glancing at a certain situation.

It’s pretty much like exercising. If you train every day, you will eventually become stronger. Your body will change and you will be able to lift more heavy shit. The same happens when you practice something specific. Your point of view changes and you see things differently.

Your perspective evolves and you no longer need an hour to understand why something doesn’t work, you take a quick look and you know what’s the problem immediately.

The main point here is this: you should not seek to become an expert in every aspect of your life, simply choose a specific subject and devote your life towards this. You will eventually become a key figure in your field of choice, which will bring you joy and (hopefully) admiration from the people around you.

Lesson #2: Thinking Fast And Slow

This is the main concept of the book and the most valuable takeaway. According to the research of the author, there are two main systems that we use to think, and to basically solve problems:

System 1: The first system acts fast. It is more primitive from the two and its main objective is to take care of our survival. For example, if you’re walking on the street and suddenly a car turns towards your direction your mind needs to act fast in order to protect you and get you out alive from this situation. The brain will send impulses to the legs and will help you move quickly or even jump if necessary.

The downside of system one is that it often triggers when we need to make an important decision, or, for example, respond to people. The fast way of thinking usually is quick on making conclusions but in most cases, such outcomes are wrong and have the potential to ruin your life in the long run. Even more, system one mostly relies on emotions.

For example: let’s say you’re married but you go to a club without your wife. An attractive female is showing interest in you. At this moment, you have a choice to make: your fast mind will immediately tell you that you should sleep with the girl. The reasons are many and all of them are based on a superficial conclusion: she’s attractive, an easy prey, your primitive brain will basically tell you to mate because that’s in your blood.

System 2: The slow way of thinking relies on logic. System 2 needs time to process all the information and to find a similar experience in the owner’s brain before making a decision. Slow thinking requires concentration and focus and gets upset when attention is diverted. As the author explains in the book: “Slow thinking requires more mental capacity.” Having the latter in mind, we can easily say that system two is more important for our overall success in life.

Slow thinking cannot be combined with other thought processes, and attempts will only de-focus you. For instance, writing a book or recording music requires complete concertation and any distraction will lead to unnecessary delays in the process.

In other words, the more you control and practice your slow thinking, the more successful you will be in life. You will become more productive and make better decisions faster.

Let’s say we’re in the same situation, the one mentioned above: you’re in the club and a beautiful woman is trying to take advantage of you. What will happen if we take a couple of minutes to think things through? Our logic will kick in and tell you that you should immediately walk away. It will whisper in your ear that you have a wife and that you shouldn’t cheat on her. Even if your wife never finds about this night, you will know and this will make you fell miserable. Besides, it’s not fair to cheat on your wife. So, go home buster.

In conclusion, allow system one to work when the decision won’t affect dramatically your future and turn to system two when important verdicts have to be made.

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