A recurrent theme seems to keep arising in these scary times: not going back to how things used to be. This is interesting because when we are so radically disrupted, we might imagine the call should be “please take us back to how we were before all this”. So it seems to be that something profound might be going on. 

There is neither clarity, nor consensus on exactly what it is that we don’t want to go back to. But there is a general theme. The environment is in there, short term thinking, greed. Maybe we might take a generality that says it is something about learning to think a bit more carefully before we impulsively follow our baser instincts. Perhaps it comes from the idea that if we had been using our brains a bit more and chasing our bank balances a bit less we might have seen this coming and done something to be ready. Of course, it was foreseen. In the UK, Public Health England was set up in 2013 specifically to be ready for such an emergency. Then came “austerity” and it had its budget decimated. So it wasn’t ready, or equipped. Not its fault.

This isn’t a piece about blame or politics, that is just the sort of inevitable consequence of short term tactics undoing prudent strategy. And, of course, politics is tactical; otherwise you don’t get elected.

So, how do we all become a strategic, long term, thoughtful species? Daniel Kahneman has explored this in huge depth: Nobel prize winning depth as a matter of fact. He explains how we are all the possessors of two different decision making processes. We are dominated by our

System 1: the instinctive, fast acting decider which is great at protecting us from danger, a time when speed is of the essence. But our System 1 is heavily biased and frequently leads us astray.

System 2 is the slower acting, thoughtful, rational analyser; our human brain rather than the animal section. It takes time, energy and effort to use it, but it rarely makes an error. 

System 1 is the one that makes you send the tweet you bitterly regret after System 2 has had a minute or two to mull it over (of course, this pre-supposes that you have a System 2: some Twitter users seems to have permanently mislaid it). 

So, while I heartily recommend that anybody who hasn’t as yet read Mr Kahneman (Thinking, fast and slow), they invest in doing so… I promise it will be time well spent and will enrichen your brain and your bank balance… Perhaps we start our journey to somewhere that isn’t where we recently left by learning to detect when our System 1 is taking us to an unwise conclusion and giving our System 2 a bit more time in the sun.

What on earth does all this have to do with wine? It has to do with life and the enjoyment of such through wise decisions. The better our thought and decision making, the better shape we will be in to enjoy life. I’ll raise a glass to that. 

Cheers and Kia Kaha
Nigel Greening