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How Monopoly Helps Me Make Better Decisions

  • Posted on: 19 January 2017
  • By: Keith Reed

Take a walk on the boardwalkThe game of Monopoly forces players to deal with the unexpected. The board offers several safe spaces, but it’s mostly packed with dangerous alternatives. Seven is the most commonly rolled number—my friend loved to repeat this stat throughout our games—but players must ready themselves for the worst possible scenario, even if the chances of this happening are low. If they don’t, they face the unfortunate task of choosing what to liquidate to pay off an overwhelming debt. 

In Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s book called Decisive, they explain that people are more often wrong than right when it comes to their guesses about the future. The reason? We are naturally overconfident. Instead of preparing our game piece for the likelihood of landing on New York Avenue or Indiana Avenue, we envision the triumph of landing on Free Parking! Our decision-making process is clouded by misguided optimism. 

A helpful tool to reverse this trend is offered by researchers J. Edward Russo and Paul J. H. Schoemaker (this is highlighted in a section of Decisive called "Prepare to be Wrong"). They have discovered that when people work backward from a certain future they are better equipped to create explanations for why the event may have happened. This approach is called “prospective hindsight.”

Why does this method work? The Heath brothers explain that prospective hindsight generates more insights "because it forces us to fill in the blanks between today and a certain future event." When we cease to wonder whether an event will or won’t happen, we can focus entirely on the task of considering why a future event would happen. This approach can be used to identify factors that might influence positive outcomes or factors that might lead to negative outcomes.

In Monopoly, the negative factors are easy to spot. You are destined to land on Boardwalk if your dice create the right combination or if you draw the dreaded Community Chess card. There’s not much you can do to withstand either situation besides stocking the appropriate amount of cash and hoping that luck is on your side.

But when prospective hindsight is used in real-life scenarios, we can generate many reasons for why a given situation might happen. Even better, we can identify the factors that pose the greatest threats to our goals and allocate resources to stall these out.

Seven Ways to Make Scripture Come Alive

  • Posted on: 13 January 2017
  • By: Randy Wollf

Sunflower reaching upConfession time: I don’t always enjoy reading Scripture. Sometimes, it’s routine, even boring. Yet, I’ve also experienced incredible “Aha!” moments as God has spoken wisdom into my life. God’s Word has often encouraged me to carry on, even in the face of a big challenge. 

I’ve discovered that the times Scripture impacts me the most is when I actually engage with what God is saying―to meditate on His words. 

I’d like to offer seven ways for engaging Scripture that I have found life-changing.

Pray Through Scripture

I am currently using a Bible reading app on my phone to read through the Bible in 18 months. I like this approach, but sometimes find that I’m just reading to get it done. What has helped is to purposefully pray through the passages as I read them. For example, when reading Psalm 46, I can praise God that He is my refuge and strength. I may find myself confessing those times when I have tried to find safety outside of God. Depending on what I’m going through, I may respond to this passage by committing challenges to the Lord that need His strong helping hand. Praying through Scripture is a way to engage in a conversation with God about what He is showing me. It makes Scripture real and personal.

Journal in Response to Scripture

Journaling is another great way of engaging with Scripture. When I went through the two-year Navigator 2:7 Bible Study Series, we had to journal about our Bible reading each day. The approach was simple. We recorded a key idea and then applied it to our lives. Many have found that life journaling is a great way of getting into the heart of Scripture. One of the great benefits of journaling is that you can trace themes that God might be emphasizing in your life.

Memorize Scripture

The Power of Gratitude

  • Posted on: 9 January 2017
  • By: Keith Reed

LightningMy six-year-old has a gratitude journal. I’d like to say I came up with the idea, but all the credit goes to his Grade 1 teacher. Writing in a gratitude journal is a regular part of my son’s school schedule. He doesn’t attend a private school; his teacher simply understands the power of giving thanks.

I don’t use the word “power” loosely. A life motivated by acts of gratitude looks decisively different than a life devoid of thanks. Consider these survey findings from a group of psychologists: 

  • 90% of people surveyed found that expressing gratitude made them more joyful
  • 84% said it reduced stress and depression and increased optimism
  • 78% said it gave them more energy*

These results are cited in a book called 10 Mindful Minutes that inspired my son’s teacher to make gratitude journaling a regular part of her curriculum (children require teaching to cultivate gratitude since most aren’t naturally thankful). This book is just one title from a growing segment of writers who proclaim the merits of saying “thank-you” (Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts is an excellent guide on how to embrace everyday blessings).

This is the time of year when it’s customary to take an inventory on what’s wrong with our lives and to search for solutions that will increase our happiness. Resolutions are attempts to “re-solve” a matter with a new sense of commitment. Resolutions are honourable and effective when structured in the right way (here's a resource on how to develop a personal growth plan), but I’m not convinced that many goals will measure up to the value of giving thanks. A life that reflects daily gratitude is a life that is filled with joy, patience, and generosity.

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