A Time To Get Mad – The Process Of Rational Decision Making

The Process of Rational Decision Making is actually pretty amazing when seen in it’s truest form. Lately I’ve been noticing amazing stories where people made decisions to change their lives.

Usually it starts with a triggering, dramatic event, followed by a process of rational decision making and a conclusion for significant change.

I’ll start with an example.

My friend Rob has smoked for the last 10 years of his life, having “tried to quit” many of times but always seemed to fall back into old habits.

One day he, his wife and his 1-year-old, Stella, were headed up to his parents place for a BBQ.

Rob knew he would be drinking and had asked his wife to bring his “pack of smokes” when they were leaving the house.

She did and they headed off into the rural area where Rob’s parents live.

Rob’s parents live on a secluded property that’s at least 20 minutes from the nearest convenience store.

While having a few beers that night Rob realized that he only had a couple of cigarettes left in his pack because his wife had grabbed the wrong one before they had left.

Rob proceeded to get mad at her and frustrated at the fact that he would now have to go a night without cigarettes.

He was angry and began thinking of how he could get cigarettes…

Then, all of the sudden, as though someone just flicked a switch, he said, “wait, this is stupid… I just got mad at my wife because she grabbed the wrong pack of cigarettes. I’m letting this addiction control me….”


The Process Of Rational Decision Making – Getting Mad

Then Rob’s anger shifted.

Rob realized he was actually mad at cigarettes for controlling such a significant portion of his life. He thought back to all the times he had been a slave to his addiction and actually got mad. He was mad at himself and at the way he had allowed himself to act.

It was that moment that he decided he was done smoking.

He wasn’t going to “try to quit”

He was done.

And it stuck!

An Objective Look in the Process of Rational Decision Making

What happened to my friend, Rob? Why did this work?

Well he used the process of rational decision making to his advantage and created some indignation within himself to make it happen.

His emotions allowed him to create a deep desire to quit smoking which was stronger than the impulse and urge to smoke.

He had to stop and look at the situation rationally for this to work. Sometimes we never really stop to look at our situations until some significant event happens… but we can engage in this process sooner if we just make a point of objectively looking at our lives and areas we’d like to change.

If you’ve tried to make a change and failed, why did you fail? What are your current beliefs on the subject? Ask yourself, what if those beliefs are flawed?

Is the current situation rational? If not, what’s it going to take to make a change?


Concluding the Process of Rational Decision Making

The combination of rational decision making and emotion can drive anyone to any goal, provided the goal is important to the person working to achieve it.

To be effective we must have a balance and use our emotions to our advantage.

What area of your life can you “get mad” about today and make a change?

Thanks for reading, liking, sharing and following! :)

14 thoughts on “A Time To Get Mad – The Process Of Rational Decision Making

  1. sweetlysusan

    This post is so incredibly relevant to my work today. I am working on a final paper for my degree, on anger. It’s quite a long one, and one that has taken me months to prepare. Rational decision making is something that most people don’t even know their doing. However, knowing, controlling, and being able to visualize the outcome makes the entire process make more sense to those folks who become blinded by their rage. Knowing and understanding your triggers is another point that can turn frustration and anger into something very productive. Thanks for posting this, I think many people will benefit from what you’ve written here. S~

  2. Author Charmaine Gordon

    Terrific post, Andrew, and one most everyone would benefit from. Personally, I don’t get mad, I do something when I want to change. It works. I’m 82, an author after years of wife, then mother raising a batch of kids, followed by an acting career. Now I’m on the brink of something wonderful and new. Thanks for the post and follow.

  3. Man Yes

    Great post. Goes beyond the many ‘motivational’ messages out there, which are not backed up by any form of argument. There needs to be a greater focus on rationality in this world, we will be better for it.

  4. feelinggoodtoday

    Sometimes the stark contrast primes us for big decisions. Your friend was probably really happy about the idea of going on the trip, and the stark change in emotions gripped his attention like a vice when he realized that although he had planned and taken steps to have cigarettes available, he wasn’t going to have any! His physical location demanded he make a decision, because it wasn’t easy to get the cigarettes that he wanted.

    Usually, I find that when I have a really strong feeling about what I DON’T want, the idea of what I DO want is already formulating in my mind, but it takes awhile for me to calm down before I can fully articulate it. And your friend may have gone through a similar process — I DON’T WANT TO BE WITHOUT CIGARETTES! and his first reaction may have been: I WANT CIGARETTES! But then, he had to really think about it because the nearest store was so far away and because he had already had a few drinks.

    So, his situation, because it was so unforgiving, made him really stop and think what he really wanted more than anything…freedom. He was really sick of being addicted, sick of having to go out of his way to procure cigarettes, sick of having to ask his wife to help him out with getting them, and probably sick of having to constantly worry about his supply.

    I have to applaud him for making the decision that he did (and really sticking to it!) and you for calling it out in this post. It really is edifying to slow down and think, why do we make those decisions at one certain time in life as opposed to any other?

    Thanks for the input on that!


  5. Rex


    nice blog you have!

    As for rational decisions, the Nobel winning economist Daniel Kahneman says that though we appear to be rational beings, we are inherently irrational. It is scary to think so but our seemigly rational thought process is actually rooted into the superstions and irrationality of our subconscious. (Not all is rooted in sexual instincts as said Frued.) So the reality is quite different from what is seems to us. Hence, we do not agree with each other’s reality.I am doing a series of readable posts on my blog on social psychology and this illusionary and irrational aspect of reality is what I intend to bring forth through my lecture notes.

    Anyway, long live rational decision making :-)

    Glad to have come to your blog.


    1. Andrew Hines Post author

      Thanks Rex, you bring up a good point! Sometimes being rational takes removing ourselves from a situation but nonetheless I believe it’s very achievable with consistent effort :)

  6. barbarakski

    Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog. As I was looking through your posts, this title jumped out. This is so relevant to ANY addiction that you are trying to quit!!! I deal with the addicted population, and the only way anyone will ever change is if they first get mad…at whatever really, being robbed of their family, friends, money, time, health, job..just whatever. Then and only then do the have a platform to fight from….keep up the blogging! your passionista friend!

  7. islandletters

    I agree with everything besides the name “rational decision making”. I would rather call it mindfulness, for the definition of rationality encompasses
    (1) taking the world for what it really is in one’s pursuits (but the pursuits themselve can be irrational,
    (2) the mere maximisation of one’s pursuits.
    Julia Galef gave a nice presentation about common misconceptions of rationality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLgNZ9aTEwc.

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