A blue brain - Be narrow-minded for profit and happiness

Many self-help gurus and personal coaches will tell you that happiness can best be achieved through balance. You need find a healthy balance between life and work. You need to find balance in your spirituality and in your relationships with loved ones. It’s all about balance, right? As it turns out, you may be better off being absolutely one-sided in everything you do. Be biased. See things only one way.

Balanced Views Breed Indecision

Have you ever had the experience where you walked into a store, saw something that you really liked, but ultimately could not decide whether you should buy it or not? This purchase can be as small as deciding on a sandwich at the local deli or as big as buying an expensive new computer.

If you are a particularly balanced individual who can always see both sides of the equation, you’ll likely weigh the pros and cons involved with making that purchase. You’ll consider the opportunity cost that may be involved. Can you justify spending $300 on a Nintendo Wii when you know that you may lose interest in the motion-sensing video game machine in a few short weeks? Can you justify buying the Wii when you could spend that $300 elsewhere on something else that might ultimately make you a happier camper?

By seeing both sides of the equation, by balancing the various pros and cons involved, you may ultimately be left with a serious case of indecision. By contrast, if you walk into a store with the specific goal in mind of buying a Nintendo Wii, handing over that credit card to the store clerk is a no-brainer. You were biased and you had a very direct focus. The decision was easy, because you already made it before you paid a visit to Best Buy.

Balanced Views Bring Mental Anguish

Woulda, coulda, shoulda. The notion that narrow-mindedness can bring about more happiness than having a balanced perspective on things especially expands into areas in your life beyond making purchases. Religion and politics are two areas where a single focus can help you live your life better.

If you are a devout Catholic, for example, adhering to the teachings of the bible in the strictest of ways, it doesn’t really matter to you if another world religion questions some of the views of your church. You have a very specific world view and holding to that view can help you with the decision-making process. If you are an agnostic, on the other hand, you may suffer through all sorts of mental anguish trying to reconcile the differences in opinion between the world’s religions. Some of these viewpoints clash (violently) and by having a balanced view, giving both perspectives equal weight, you are stuck somewhere in the middle.

As you can probably imagine, narrow-mindedness can help you in debates with colleagues, friends, and rivals as well. Politicians who flip-flop on their platforms ultimately fail, because their supporters can never be certain which person is going to show up to the debate. A politician who sticks to his guns, holding firm on his opinion on a particular issue, is more likely to succeed in a debate. It’s much easier to argue a single point than to try and justify multiple points. You may or may not agree with his particular viewpoint, but you can respect his opinion for what it is.

Ignorance is Bliss

Much of what I’m saying in this post has been somewhat tongue in cheek, but there is something to be said about the value of being narrow-minded. Although you may not always make the right decision, you can save yourself from a lot of mental anguish and regret if you have a one-track mind. Even so, people who are too narrow-minded rob themselves of the opportunity to see the world through new eyes. They say that ignorance is bliss; narrow-mindedness is much the same. And I don’t want to be ignorant.