07/09/2013 09:54 am ET

How To Be Totally Cool With Not Getting Closure


You know when a complicated problem arises, or a relationship or job or phase in your life ends, and you can't wrap it up all tidy and fresh with a big shiny bow of order and clarity? I hate that. A lot of people hate that. It means things aren't all simple and easy, but have now been rendered murky and uncategorizable (made-up word!) by the shape-shifting forces of ambiguity. It is ambiguous. Is there a more lovely, confounding word? It has a prickly, complex beauty, but it's the sort you'd rather admire in a museum than in your actual life. So how to deal with it? It's not as bad as you think.

But hey, why are we so bad at dealing with ambiguity? Because the world is ambiguous, and our survival has long depended on installing a sense of order to beat back the chaos of nature. Rules, religion, systems, infrastructure, science, hierarchies — it all helps us to make orderly what is ultimately irrational: us, i.e., nature. Unresolved things = not cool!

But people who have a high need for lightning-fast closure in processing information, new research says, tend to be more likely to make snap decisions, to be rigid in their thinking or to ignore alternate opinions once they've made up their minds. They also tend to be less creative. They are, in short, more close-minded, because they dont' want to sit around waiting on an organic resolution.

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