black cat

How to Find a Black Cat in a Dark Room

The Psychology of Intuition, Influence, Decision Making and Trust

by Jacob Burak

This book is a compilation of studies from the field of behavioral science, viewed through a unique lens.  The broader question addressed is how are we all confined by how other humans behaved in these studies?  Can we all be summarized through these results and will everyone act in the same manner or through refined thinking are we capable of acting independently?

It was humbling to see parts of me in these stories, the parts you don’t want to admit to.  However, it’s an opportunity to learn, change, and as the author so eloquently put it: “choose a path that will express greater responsibility toward your emotional well-being and the welfare of the society in which you live.”  If I had to design a tag-line for life, I would give kudos to this one.

What influences us and why?  How do humans make the decisions we do?  What is present that you don’t see, but at the same time, you should know is there?  These are the overarching ideas.  Below is what resonated with me, my thoughts (after the dash), and what I’ve been pondering lately.

Wisdom is accepting how much you don’t know and learning what you can – this experience has definitely shown me that.  I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would about Federal indictments, incarceration, patience, and gratitude.  We can’t know everything, hindsight is frustratingly 20-20, but what we can do is learn from mistakes and seek help with what we don’t fully understand.

Don’t ever let the nagging tale of your life prevent you from living – many of these guys have been through far worse, but the past is the past and all you have is the time you get moving forward.  Holding on to negative emotions will only serve to sink you.

Health brings a freedom you don’t realize until it is taken away – I can vividly recall my shoulder surgery and how restricted I was with only my left arm to use.  No matter what I’m dealing with here, I have my health and my mobility.  A lot of people, both in the world now and the literature I’ve read, would gladly trade places with me to have those back.

Sometimes FOMO puts you in situations where you’re worse off than if you chilled out and remained present – I can think of times back in Boise where this happened to me but luckily there’s no FOMO in prison.  You can have FOMO regarding what’s happening back home but that get’s tiring so it’s a game you quickly learn to not play.  Here on the compound, most days are eerily similar so FOMO has no room to breathe.  There’s a certain tranquility to that level of presence.

Take pride in self-restraint – whether it’s refraining from prison cheesecake, keeping your emotions in check, or your mouth shut.  If you’re thinking of holding back, it usually feels better than giving in.

Humility – there is no situation that does not benefit from more humility.

Satisfice = satisfy + sacrifice.  This ties in with gratitude.  To satisfy your needs be willing to sacrifice.  If your expectations are ever so slightly more reasonable you can always be satisfied.  Appreciate what is instead of yearning for that little extra that is not.

Success is achieving what you want.  Happiness is wanting what you achieved –  the same thoughts on happiness come up in everything from Stoicism to Psychology to fiction books.  Hedonic adaptation can get the best of anyone.  There’s always something new to crave or yearn for.  The treadmill never ceases until you can instead be content and have gratitude for what you have, not focusing on what you want.

Share this post