Do we really need them?
I read an article recently that suggested we make an average of five thousand decisions every single day.
Turning the volume up/down.
What to eat.
What to wear.
When to proceed through the intersection.
When to’ give the @$$(*&^ who cut you off in traffic the finger.
Should we have that piece of chocolate cake?
And thousands more.
If the article was correct it tells us that we have all become experts in the art of decision making.
So why is it that every now and then, having mastered the art by making hundreds of thousands of decisions, we find ourselves either agonizing over making one, or deeply mired in regret for having made one?
I think it’s helpful to visit the decision making process and place some perspective around how we go about doing this.
We have spent much time discussing how we only ever do one thing – we do what’s important to us in the moment.
And we have talked about how we determine importance, how we do what we do for one of two reasons; we do what we do in order to gain pleasure or to avoid pain.
And we have chatted about the “fact” that we will frequently work harder to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure and that we frequently make choices – which is an euphemism for decisions – based not on pain versus pleasure but rather on more pain versus less pain.
In other words we frequently choose/decide to do something or not to do something because doing it/not doing it is the less/least painful choice.
Of course, not all decisions are equal. Every decision we make produces a consequence and the consequences of choosing between a cheese burger and a bacon burger are probably significantly less important and long lasting than the consequences of choosing which house to buy or career path to follow.
And while the consequences may vary the process by which we make decisions there seems to be one process we repeat anew with each fresh decision.
I think it goes something like this:
1. We become consciously aware of the status quo.
– the light has turned green;
– my job is not giving me everything I want;
– maybe it’s time to move.
2. We begin gathering information:
-It’s safe/unsafe to enter the intersection;
– I’ll start looking around for a new job;
– what homes are available out there.
3. We gather more information.
4. We go through the “Should I/Shouldn’t I” and the “What if” phases.
5. We make the decision and pray it’s the right one.
Naturally, that is a gross over simplification of what we do in order to make a decision but the general process is as described above.
And then the consequences of the decision begin.
And we sometimes have serious doubts about the correctness of our decision.
Or that dreaded thing called “Buyer’s Remorse” rears its ugly head.
And we are filled with regret.
And we wish we could turn the clock back.
And we have sleepless nights.
And we get really, really mad at ourselves.
And, of course, sometimes the decisions were indeed wrong decisions.
Or poor ones.
Or outright stupid ones.
So what to do.
Well, another topic we have discussed at length over our past 121 visits is this:
There is absolutely no bridge connecting experiences in our lives with how we are impacted by those experiences.
They are two separate events.
There are the events:
We choose and eat the cheeseburger.
We turn down the job offer.
We buy a new house.
And then there are the impacts of those events:
We are mad at ourselves for not having a salad:
We regret turning down the opportunity.
We wish we had waited a little longer because our dream home came on the market two days after we moved into this one.
And, in each case, we believe that the impact we feel has been caused by the choices/decisions we made and the actions we took.
We think they are inextricably connected.
There is no connection.
Other than the connection we CHOOSE to place upon them.
Every experience in our lives has only the meaning we choose to place upon it.
And if we change the meaning of that experience, the impact will instantly change with it.
BUT, what if it really was the wrong decision?
Many of you are going to hate this next sentence but it is one of my favourites.
IT IS WHAT IT IS.
This doesn’t mean you have to like it.
It doesn’t mean you have to accept it.
It doesn’t mean you can’t change it.
It means it is the reality of the situation you have.
Loving it or hating doesn’t change the situation at all.
The situation is the situation.
And if the decision that put you in the situation was not the best you have ever made then that is simply a reminder to embrace the greatest gift you were ever given.
Your magnificent power of choice.
And evaluate all your choices.
Review each and every possible alternative.
Select those you believe to be best for you.
And if all this navel gazing results in the realization that you may have to live with your “wrong” decision then do one more thing.
Look at your present circumstance.
Say these magic words: IT IS WHAT IT IS.
And make one more decision.
Choose to place the most positive, joyful, delightful meaning possible on this circumstance.
Because the circumstance is the circumstance.
It won’t be affected by either your happiness or your misery.
But you will be.
Till we read again.
P.S. As a Xmas gift to my loyal readers I am giving away 25 copies of my book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours to the first 25 people who Email their mailing address to me. If you would like additional copies please click here and Self Connection will ship as many to you as you want or you can order directly by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.