We live in an age of choices, when something as simple as picking toothpaste— do you want to fight cavities or tartar? whiten your teeth? freshen your breath?— is complicated enough to send us to the candy aisle for comfort. So if you occasionally suffer from indecision, rest assured you are not alone. In fact, your confusion might be a sign of an extraordinarily rich mind: Buridanitis, the term for the mental gridlock we all experience now and then, afflicted great thinkers like Socrates and Saint Augustine, whose imaginations saw endless options and opportunities.

Contemporary philosophers have developed a science to overcome indecision, the principles of which are used by major corporations and government agencies to decide anything from hiring employees to allocating money. The good news is you can apply those same methods to resolve everyday situations.

"People are afraid of making decisions because they're trying to find the perfect answer, and there is no perfect answer," says Gary Klein, whose company, Klein Associates, Inc., trains high-powered executives to make choices. He is also the author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions, for which he interviewed firemen, nurses, and others who are paid to make up their minds in just seconds.


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