Saturday, June 27, 2015

Irrationally Yours by Dan Ariely

Irrationally Yours: on Missing Socks, Pickup Lines, and Other Existential Puzzles by Dan Ariely
I subscribe to Dan Ariely's weekly email of answers to questions people send him via the Wall Street Journal. People ask Ariely a variety of questions on topics that involve life, work, and behavior. Ariely, knowing a good opportunity when he sees one, collected the questions and answers into his newest book, Irrationally Yours: On Missing Socks, Pickup Lines, and Other Existential Puzzles. The book is a short, fast, highly entertaining read, and it will definitely getting you thinking about your decisions and behavior.

As an example of a question, someone mentioned that he and his wife were wondering if they should start a family. Ariel's advice was to stay with a family for a week and observe the interactions. Then the couple should offer to watch the kids for a whole week. As Ariely said, if you thought his suggestions were asking too much, maybe you shouldn't have kids of your own. Ariely provides logical, rational insight into the dilemmas and questions that people have. One that particularly caught my attention was the letter from someone who hated his job of eight years and wondered if he should get a new job. Ariely suggested that the person take a long vacation (three weeks) and volunteer at the place that he thought he might like to work. He could then decide if the grass was greener elsewhere. If the guy wasn't interested in trying out the volunteer job, Ariely suggested that maybe the guy's dissatisfaction with the job wasn't that great, and the guy should just stay where he was and stop complaining.

I love to read Ariely's insights into behavior. Since I subscribe to the newsletter, I read (and remembered) the majority of letters. What made the book new and interesting for me were the cartoons by William Haefeli. They did a great job of illustrating, in a comic way, Ariely's feedback. If you haven't read anything by Ariely, you should definitely read this book. It will give you a taste of rational thinking, and it will make you want to read more of Ariely's writing.

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