If you are like most people, you tend to make terrible decisions based upon your emotions. Your friends make jokes about the clothes that you wear, and you get really upset because those clothes were given to you by a dying relative, so you decide, ignore these people and quit your job to live on welfare. That's not exactly a rational decision.

It turns out that just avoiding making important decisions while emotional is not good enough. It turns out that emotions influence your decision making days, weeks or even  months and years, even after you have taken the time to evaluate the situation further. What's more surprising and more counter intuitive is that even relatively mild and short-lived emotions at one point in time can very well have long term impacts on your decision making later.

Perhaps a friend of yours desires to meet for lunch. But for some unknown reason, your guard goes up and you start hedging. You don't want to commit right away, even though you like this friend and want to have lunch with them. You find yourself being cautious about making firm plans with the friend but you don't know why.

Basically, you often use memories of the emotions you have had at one point as a basis for decisions that you make at another point in time, perhaps months or years later. The thing is, you do this all the time and you do it unconsciously. Emotions that you don't even remember having five years ago could very well be influencing whether or not you stay at home and watch a movie or go out to the casino.

 

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