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10-10-10 Rule: Controlling Emotional and Cognitive Decisions

Biological cognitive module Biological cognitive module Follow Jun 18, 2019 · 5 minutes read
10-10-10 Rule: Controlling Emotional and Cognitive Decisions

Where does the emotion come from? The difference between reality and expectations. For example, when you walk and find a hundred dollars on the ground. You are very happy. this emotion comes from the unexpected benefits. Then after picking up you find that this is just falling out of your own bag, so you will experience a series of emotions, including disappointment, happiness, and self-deprecation. (Trust me, this is not my own experience!). You still have the money before and after the event, but your emotions have experienced fluctuations like a roller coaster.

What is emotion? Oh… The good news is that this article plans to discuss cognitions of emotion rather than emotion itself, so the part of psychology is skipped, what a surprize!

What does emotion cause? I think most people’s answer is to bring themselves out of calm. Yes, in most cases, emotions will not cause us a lot of trouble. However, in certain situations, emotions are amplified to hurt ourselves and others.

“Relatos salvajes” tells the serious consequences of the emotions caused by the trivial little things in daily life being amplified step by step. This movie is very good. I suggest that you can go and have a look. So how do we avoid falling into the same situation as the protagonist in a movie? This is the important principle to be introduced in this article: 10-10-10 rule.

1. 10-10-10 rule

Unlike most people known, this rule was first proposed by Suzy Welch 1 instead of Buffett.

2. Principle

Time kills, time cures, let time take care of it.

In “Thinking, Fast and Slow” 2, Daniel Kahneman points out that there are two selfs in each person: the experience self and the memory self. Our perception of the current experience is controlled by the former, and the evaluation and cognition of the past is controlled by the latter. For example, during the period before the final exam, if you play the game every day, it is very wonderful for you who are experiencing that period of time (ie, experience yourself). However, since you have not passed the exam, your memories of that time (ie, memory self) will be very remorseful. On the contrary, if you carefully review, the experience self may be painful, but the memory self will give a satisfactory evaluation of that time.

The 10-10-10 rule in this article is a fast-executing version of the above theory.

3. Scope: Emotional processing, decision making

When do we need the memory self (instead of the experience self) to make a decision? A situation when our emotions are out of control or when we are facing major decisions.

3.1 Emotions

A merry heart goes all the way.

We all know that emotions affect the way we look at something and change our behavior toward it. For example, for those beggars on the street, if we are in a good mood, then it is very likely to give them a few dollars; but if we are in a bad mood, then the best result is that they are blinded.

We can divide emotions into four levels according to the time we realized them:

  1. Unconsciously: Unaware of the effects of emotions on events (this is also the state of most people);
  2. After: There is self-reflection after the incident;
  3. Meanwhile: Be aware of emotions and control them when an event occurs;
  4. Before: The occurrence of an event is expected before the event occurs, thereby avoiding the appearance of bad emotions.

Of course, the ideal state is to reach the fourth level, but the 10-10-10 rule is mainly applied on the third level.

3.2 Decision

Happiness can be defined as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually. – Dr. Stephen Covey

People who overweight the first-order consequences of their decisions and ignore the effects that the second- and subsequent-order consequences will have on their goals rarely reach their goals. – Ray Dalio

In the example of the second part above, the protagonist is characterized by emotional stability and sufficient time to evaluate the options to make good decisions. However, many people (even very smart people) will encounter similar mistakes. This involves the cognitive strategy of our human brain. The three-processing mental model proposed by Steinovic in “What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought”3 is a very powerful explanation for this phenomenon, namely, independent mind, algorithmic mind, and reflective mind.

The 10-10-10 rule described in this article attempts to introduce triggers for the reflective mind.

4. Advantages and disadvantages

The 10-10-10 rule tries to avoid emotional and decision-making mistakes for us. For this purpose, it has done a great job. However, we still have to point out some things to be aware of when applying this rule.

In terms of emotional processing:

  • Advantages: Avoid impulsive behavior;
  • Disadvantages: Excessive use can cause interpersonal problems (such as being accused of lack of empathy, etc.). For other people’s emotional problems, it is necessary to distinguish whether they need to solve the problem or simply vent their emotions. Most of the time we need to tolerate.

In terms of decision making:

  • Advantages: Avoid decisions based on short-term benefits;
  • Disadvantages: Because it is based on the current personal cognition to imagine the future, there will inevitably be some deviation. A common case is that young people use their current situation to derive their financial status without recognizing the importance of savings and pensions. The optimization plan is to reduce the deviation by more means (such as consulting a more professional person to seek advice, etc.) when time permits.

5. Operation details

The 10-10-10 rule itself is very simple and can be summarized in the following three questions:

  • How will I feel about it in 10 minutes?
  • How will I feel about it in 10 months?
  • How will I feel about it in 10 years?

The above is one of the principles I applied in my daily life, and I hope this will inspire you.

  1. Welch, Suzy. 10-10-10: 10 Minutes, 10 Months, 10 Years - a Life-Transforming Idea. 1st Scribner hardcover ed, Scribner, 2009. 

  2. Kahneman, Daniel. Thinking, Fast and Slow. 1st ed, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011. 

  3. Stanovich, Keith E. What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought. Yale University Press, 2009. 

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Biological cognitive module
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