The eight big mental errors that keep you from the life you want and how to avoid them.

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Every day you are asked to make decisions. From small choices like what to wear to life-altering decisions like who to marry, where to live, and what job to pursue. And research tells us that you are bad at making these choices. Why? Because you allow eight common cognitive errors to trip you up. Worst of all, you don’t even know you are letting it happen.

One of the best ways to avoid making these mental mistakes is to know what the common mental traps are so you can recognize them, avoid them and make better decisions in the future…

I had been an eReader skeptic, but in the last year, I have been forced to reevaluate my relationship with my Kindle. Here is what I learned.

Photo by Charles Black

I love the printed word, and by the printed word, I mean ink on paper. I love the feel of books, the weight of them, and the promise they contain. I find the smell of old books intoxicating; that aroma combines an old, damp forest with nutmeg, vanilla, and almond spices. A scent found only in old books, making them like wine, both of which improve in quality with time.

My point is that I love books, so when the pandemic struck, the most disruptive element for me was the closure of the local bookstore and library. Oh, sure, I…

Learn how to use your emotions to make meaningful decisions and avoid letting moods lead you to poor choices.

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When I was in medical school, I had the opportunity to spend time with a dynamic neurologist named Dr. Antonio Damasio. He described an interesting patient who could not decide whether to have a ham or turkey sandwich for lunch. The patient who had previously been a successful attorney could enumerate the pros and cons of each option clearly and logically but could not use that information to make a decision. He was trapped in indecision, not just about his lunch order, but about all the decisions in his life, big and small.

The patient had previously undergone minor brain…

It’s human nature to be distractable, but you can learn how to overcome that weakness to be more effective and productive

Photo by Charles Black and courtesy of Chuck Black Photography

It’s you on the cold hard table in the operating room. The surgery is important. Your future health and happiness lay in the balance. Do you want you surgeon to be “efficient” by working on something else — like dictating hospital record, answering phone calls, or checking email — while he or she does your surgery?

No, you want your doctors entirely focused on the task at hand. You expect 100% of your surgeon’s attention to be absorbed in…

Learn how to optimize around the best times to do things for the best results.

Photo by Charles Black and courtesy of Chuck Black Photography

I’ve got rhythm. I didn’t use to, but I do now and it’s making a huge difference in my life.

I cannot dance, as my children gleefully point out. I’m not musical and can’t keep the beat. What I have connected with is the rhythm of life.

I believed that I was a night owl and that staying up late to study or work at the hospital was natural for me. I did not need regular sleep, and I certainly did not need eight hours a night. I could function quite adequately on six hours and could get by fine…

Reasons why thinking you will make money now and do what you love later will not work.

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I wanted to be a writer when I went to college. Ok, I finally admitted it, although if you looked at the long list of English electives this science major completed, you would have had a hint before now.

The Wrong Advice

Well-meaning people counseled me not to pursue a writing career because it seemed risky. Instead, they convinced me to pursue a more practical career. Their most compelling argument was the I could earn a good living now and then do what I really wanted to do later. …

What you don’t know can hurt you.

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What is your best option for being healthy in America? Don’t get sick. America’s healthcare system is suffering from its own malignancy, and there is no guarantee it will be able, or willing, to help you if you get ill. Let’s take a look at six uncomfortable truths about the American healthcare system today.

It is not you and your doctor making decisions about your healthcare.

Physicians are under pressure to make healthcare as profitable as possible for the organizations they work for.

Profit as the primary motive means that corporate executives decide what tests are offered, what medications are available, treatment options, and even the instruments available in the operating room…

And what to do about it.

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In a just world, good decisions would always result in good outcomes, and bad choices would result in bad effects. But we don’t live in a just world.

Thus judging the quality of decisions based on the outcomes of those decisions is not an accurate way to determine if your decision-making is sound. So how do you know if you are making good decisions even when the outcomes are bad? And how can you make better decisions in the future?

Imagine John goes to the bar and has a few too many drinks and then decides to drive home. …

Comparing yourself to others can be a productive strategy. Learn how to use comparison to achieve more.

Photo by Charles Black and courtesy of Chuck Black Photography.

“I can’t do this,” I told my wife. “I’ll never be good enough.”

I was in the early stages of putting together a talk for a TEDx event, and I was losing my confidence.

“You can do it,” she reassured me. “I know you can. You just need to give it time.”

She was right, as usual. In the end, I did pull it together and presented a talk of which I am proud.

A Crisis of Confidence

On that day, I suffered a crisis of confidence because I was not thinking about my talk. Instead, I was watching other people’s speeches for inspiration…

A summary of the book ‘Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending’ with takeaway lessons

Photo by Charles Black and courtesy of Chuck Black Photography

If you think “Money can’t buy happiness,” you are spending your money in the wrong places.

Gaining more money does not automatically make you happier. Don’t believe me? There is a long list of lottery winners who will tell you the same thing. In fact, earning more money may make you less happy if it means longer commutes, extended work hours, or work that bores you.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can buy happiness, you just need to know where to shop. Fortunately, Dr. Elizabeth Dunn and Dr. …

Charles Black M.D.

Dr. Charles Black is a general surgeon, author, photographer, outdoorsman, world traveler and fireside philosopher. Website:

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