in Business, Creativity, Motivation, Music, Philosophy, Psychology, Science

Satisficing Buridan’s Ass

“The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice, love, passion.” – Nadia Boulanger

Imagine a scenario where you’re presented with two very appealing opportunities and you can’t decide which to pursue. One would give you more flexibility while the other would give you more exposure. Imagine that you need both. Which one do you choose?

Now, imagine that someone is handing you the opportunity of a lifetime, it’s a “take it or leave it” situation. There’s a catch though, you have to make a compromise that makes you feel uncomfortable. No butt stuff, but still really uncomfortable. Like, you’re giving away a lot of your freedom. Would you do it?

You might say: “It depends on what you mean exactly?” in which case I’d say: “Hm, interesting…” and jot something down in my notebook.

Finally, imagine that you’re faced with many “smaller” opportunities to choose from. They all have their pros and cons. Do you go for any of them or are you overwhelmed and decide to put off the whole thing until you do get that one amazing opportunity?


Everybody’s talking about Curiosity, why no love for Opportunity?

Why should you imagine these things? Aren’t they very, very unnecessary? Um, well… I… I don’t know… I wasn’t prepared for that line of questioning… Let me… Let me think about it and I’ll have my people contact your people and… Um… Yeah…

There are always going to be surprises around the bend. We can’t prepare for them all. However, some things are certain. One of them is that we’ll always have to make choices.

When we know where we stand on certain issues it’s a lot easier to face those unforeseen events where we have to make choices. We can’t necessarily always control the outcome of those choices but we can be certain of having to make them day in and day out.

Pacino - Out Of Order

This whole decision’s out of order!

Now, let’s talk about Buridan’s ass. Contrary to what one might believe, it’s not a particularly fine badonkadonk. It’s actually a paradox of free will. Although, to be fair, some posteriors have been known to affect free will.

Buridan’s ass refers to the paradox of a donkey who is both hungry and thirsty. If it has to choose between drinking or eating it will go to whichever is the closest. Cruelly enough the donkey has been placed an equal distance from a bale of hay and a pail of water. Since the donkey suffers from paralysis by analysis it dies of both hunger and thirst.

Buridan's Ass

Dat ass…

Next up, we’ve got Hobson’s choice! This one is easy. We’re basically handed the illusion of free choice. In fact it’s the choice between one thing or not. Take it or leave it. One or zero. That’s right, Hobson rolls binary, baby!

Hobson was apparently a stable owner who wanted all of his horses used equally so he presented his customers with the choice of taking the horse in the stall closest to the door or taking no horse at all.

Hobson's Choice

Ah, we have come across a third type of ass!

As you may know I loves me a good partmanteau. In this case between the words “satisfying” and “sufficing”. Here we’re going to discuss “Satisficing”!

Satisficing is the art of making a choice when there is no optimal choice to be made. This is something we come across every day. The store is out of all your favorite snacks? Why do you taunt me Lord? Why?

Well, now you’re faced with having to choose between a bunch of second rate wannabe’s who have no shot at pleasing your palate. But, it’s movie night so you opt for the bag of microwave popcorn. Cursing the fact that you’ll be picking and sucking your teeth the rest of the evening. But hey, need for snacks is satisficed!

Close Enough

You got it bro, you got it!

Often when we look back at our choices we might think we should’ve done things differently, “If only I had…”, but we didn’t. What we can do is learn from them.

As humans we have an amazing ability to time travel in our minds. Not only backward, but also forward. This is why it might be good to take some time and ponder about the future of our choices. When we have the time.

If a choice needs to be made and needs to be made now we’d better do it. Otherwise we’ll let time make the choice for us. It might be even be the right choice sometimes. Question is, is that a gamble we’re ready to make?

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