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Are you good at making decisions under pressure? If not, congratulations: You’re human. High-stress situations trigger the release of cortisol, which inhibits rational thinking. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin recommends practicing “prospective hindsight,” also called “pre-mortem” planning, to make the right, logical choice when life goes awry. getAbstract believes everyone in this high-stress world will find Levitin’s life hacks helpful.


One bitterly cold night, neuroscientist Daniel Levitin arrived home to find that he was locked out. He couldn’t spend the night at a friend’s because he had to catch a flight the next morning and he needed his passport, which was inside his home. Calling a locksmith would be too expensive and time consuming, so he decided to break in via a window. The next morning, Levitin was flustered about the window, the freezing temperatures and his trip. At the airport, he realized he had forgotten his passport and rushed home to retrieve it. He made his flight, but he lost his premium seat and spent eight hours in a nonreclining chair next to the restrooms. Levitin wondered how to avoid such calamities. As a neuroscientist, he understood that, under stress, the brain...

About the Speaker

Daniel Levitin is a neuroscientist at McGill University and author of The Organized Mind.

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    R. H. 1 year ago
    "Prospective hindsight is the process of anticipating problems and planning for high-stress situations by putting systems in place when you’re feeling calm and rational. "

    This seems to me to be counter-intuitive. The anticipation of a problem might induce stress in the body, even though the imagined scenario is not actually happening; leading to a state that we are attempting to subvert.