Why is that? There is often considerable evidence that both supports and contradicts the hypothesis tested. If we focus primarily on the supporting data, we're more likely to accept that hypothesis, even though the contradictory information may be more compelling. In essence, when we use a confirming strategy, we rely on incomplete information, a main source of bad decision making.18 So why do we use confirming strategies if they can have such negative consequences? It's cognitively easier to deal with data that confirm. We have more trouble dealing with negative statements. In fact, our preference for positive responses starts early in life. When children are given twenty questions to determine an unknown number between 1 and 10,000, they seek a yes answer. For example, when they ask if the number is between 5,000 and 10,000? and they hear yes, they're happy and they cheer. If they hear no they groan, even though that answer is just as informative (if it's not between 5,000 and 10,000, then it's between 1 and 5,000). Why is that? A no response requires an extra cognitive step. In effect, we appear to have built-in circuitry that prefers yes answers. As we've seen, however, placing too much importance on positive instances can result in believing things that just aren't true. How can we overcome our penchant for confirming evidence? While the jury is still out, some research suggests the following. Telling decision makers to disconfirm their hypothesis does not always work. One study found that even when people were told to disconfirm, they still sought confirming evidence about 70 percent of the time.20 A possible solution would be to frame a question in a way that encourages disconfirming evidence. For example, a top investment analyst specifically solicits disconfirming evidence before making a decision.

If he thinks a certain industry is becoming less price competitive, he will ask executives a question that implies the opposite, such as, Is it true that price competition is getting tougher?21 As we saw before, one of the best things we can do to improve our decision making is to consider alternative hypotheses. By considering additional competing hypotheses, we'll likely focus our attention on data that confirm those hypotheses (and possibly disconfirm our initial hypothesis), giving us a more balanced evaluation of the evidence. Remember that your thoughts are transformed into speech and action in order to bring the expected result. Thought translated into action is capable of producing a tangible result. You should always speak and do things with mindfulness of loving friendliness. While speaking of loving friendliness, if you then act or speak in a diametrically opposite way, you will be reproached by the wise. As mindfulness of loving friendliness develops, your thoughts, words, and deeds should be gentle, pleasant, meaningful, truthful, and beneficial to you as well as to others. If your thoughts, words, or deeds cause harm to you, to others, or to both, then you must ask yourself whether you are really mindful of loving friendliness. Practically speaking, if all of your enemies were well, happy, and peaceful, they would not be your enemies. If they were free from problems, pain, suffering, affliction, neurosis, psychosis, paranoia, fear, tension, anxiety, etc., they would not be your enemies. The practical approach toward your enemies is to help them overcome their problems, so you can live in peace and happiness. In fact, if you can, you should fill the minds of all your enemies with loving friendliness and make all of them realize the true meaning of peace, so you can live in peace and happiness. The more they are neurotic, psychotic, afraid, tense, and anxious, the more trouble, pain, and suffering they bring to the world. If you could convert a vicious and wicked person into a holy and saintly individual, you would perform a miracle. Let us cultivate adequate wisdom and loving friendliness within ourselves to convert evil minds to saintly minds. When you hate somebody, you think, "Let him be ugly. Let him lie in pain. Let him have no prosperity. Let him not be rich. Let him not be famous.

Let him have no friends. Let him, after death, reappear in an unhappy state of deprivation in a bad destination for eternity." However, what actually happens is that your own body generates such harmful chemistry that you experience pain, increased heart rate, tension, change of facial expression, loss of appetite, deprivation of sleep, and you appear very unpleasant to others. You go through the same things you wish on your enemy. Also you cannot see the truth as it is. Your mind is like boiling water. Or you are like a patient suffering from jaundice to whom any delicious food tastes bland. Similarly, you cannot appreciate somebody's appearance, achievement, success, etc. And as long as this condition exists, you cannot meditate well. Therefore, we recommend very strongly that you practice loving friendliness before you start your serious practice of meditation. Repeat the preceding passages very mindfully and meaningfully. As you recite these passages, feel true loving friendliness within yourself first and then share it with others, for you cannot share with others what you do not have within yourself. Remember, though, these are not magic formulas. They don't work by themselves. If you use them as such, you will simply waste time and energy. But if you truly participate in these statements and invest them with your own energy, they will serve you well. Give them a try. See for yourself. We won't come any closer to healing depression if we simply brand anger, guilt, and fear as undesirable and attempt to bury them away. Like many dangerous things, even emotions that can have such a deadly effect on mental and physical health may also play a positive role in our lives. There are two sides to every coin.

In this case, the trick is in seeing the fundamental difference between the side of our emotions that leads to the darkness of depression and the side that is healthy and life giving. The key to understanding lies in the word power. The immediate result of runaway and deadly anger, guilt, and fear is not depression; it is a sense of powerlessness, the belief that you have no control over the circumstances of your life. Andrew was angry because he felt powerless to save his friends from harm. He felt powerless to stop the violence he'd been forced to participate in. He felt powerless to communicate his feelings to others who had not shared his experience of war. And it made him angry. He felt powerless over his rising sense of guilt and fear--and over his own detrimental behaviors as a result. This is the soil in which depression grows. Is it possible for those same emotions to lead to empowerment instead? Yes, it is. In fact, that's the purpose of proper and balanced emotions--even heated ones like anger, guilt, and fear. They are meant to guide us into thoughts and actions that make life better. Here's how. Anger. There are times when anger is not only appropriate but also positively beneficial. That's because anger--like pain--is a signal that something is not right in our environment. Something important needs our attention. Anger motivates us to correct what needs correcting, in the world and in ourselves; set and keep personal boundaries; defend ourselves when threatened; stand up for others in need of help; and lend our voices to important issues in our communities. People are inherently more interested in a conversation when they can connect on a level beyond general pleasantries.

The next time you watch TV, listen for the types of words used to describe products in a commercial. More than anything, commercials attempt to establish common situations that the highest number of people will relate to. Laundry detergent ads focus on specific situations in which a good detergent is necessary, such as when a grass or food stain sets in. They could just as easily say "we're better", but can anyone connect with that idea? This comes back to what we talked about in the introduction about other people having a bigger impact on our lot in life than we realize. When someone makes a decision about you, they do so after listening to you, deciding whether to believe you and then measuring their values against yours. So, when you can create a conversational tone that connects with them on a personal level, they are far more likely to listen to you. Scientists have studied the effect of media and social interaction on our brains, finding that you receive anywhere from 300 to 500 messages every day, trying to persuade you to one or another form of thinking, making your options are severely limited. That may sound intimidating, but trust me - for us, it's a good thing. It means that you can make yourself instantly more interesting simply by having a wide range of interests in life and learning how to connect with other people. A little bit later in the book I'm going to talk about how to enhance your skillset so that you tap a boatload of interesting skills when you meet someone new. But before that, we'll keep it simple with what people are interested in. Specifically, what are you interested in and how can you connect with other people based on those interests? The number one step to being truly likable is embracing your true interests and then finding people who can connect with you on that level. Imagine how much easier this process is going to be when you can be yourself and share what you honestly love about life with new people - it will open up new doors that you never even knew existed. You want to showcase your ability to be interesting on your own terms, not someone else's. Our decisions can be quite complex. In fact, if we wanted to maximize the accuracy of our judgments, we would have to gather an enormous amount of information. Just consider the decision to get a new job. To maximize the enjoyment, fulfillment, and financial rewards from a new position, we would need to gather data on the type of work involved in a variety of different careers, the educational requirements for those careers, the salaries offered, and on and on.