31. How to Decide

Good morning and welcome to your thirty-first meditation. Do you ever struggle with making decisions? Every day we are constantly making choices, however small, that will determine the course of our lives from that point forward. Most of these choices occur only semi-consciously – we stand up, we stretch, we look at our phone. The process of making these types of decisions is instantaneous, and typically doesn’t cause us any grief. Rather, it is the outcome of some of these decisions that can cause trouble. For example, the cumulative effect of mindlessly checking your phone all the time may add up to hours lost that could have been dedicated to doing something you find truly fulfilling. In this instance it is important to turn the unconscious decision into a conscious one. To do this you first need to observe your own behaviour in order to recognize that there is something about it you would like to alter. If checking your phone is the behaviour you’ve identified that you’d like to change then consider what you think would be a reasonable number of times a day to check your phone, maybe even make a schedule for times you allow yourself to check it, and then hold yourself to this resolution. This is an example of how we can make certain decisions more conscious and representative of what we actually want for ourselves, and so avoid allowing our whims to dictate how we live. 

However, sometimes our conscious mind doesn’t lead us to what we actually want. Sometimes we impede the decision-making process with too much consciousness in the form of over-thinking, or rationalization, when we would do best to rely more on our subconscious, or our intuition. We’ve all been in a situation with friends or family when we are trying to decide what to do, or eat, or watch, or where to go. These tend to be situations that benefit from simply listening to your first real impulse, and confidently going with it. Your friends and family will most often be grateful that someone made a confident choice for the group, allowing the evening to flow more smoothly. But this type of intuitive decision-making can also apply to important life decisions, like whether to stay in a relationship, whether to take that job you’ve been offered, or whether to move to a new place. Of course, these are huge decisions that require a certain degree of rational speculation. However, rationalizing, for all its good, can sometimes also mislead us, or make us feel more confused. If, on the other hand, we can reach inside and detect within us a conviction one way or another about an issue – one that isn’t based in rational thought, but rather in feeling and desire – this can be a powerful tool for helping us to proceed with confidence. You may think that this approach to decision-making is reckless or irresponsible. And indeed, only relying on intuition to make decisions would be a dangerous way to live, as we are all filled with unfair prejudices or misguided ideas that we aren’t aware of and that can certainly manifest in this kind of instinct-based decision-making process. However, in a situation where you are presented with two choices, both rationally justifiable, where rationality has reached its limit, this is exactly the time when intuition is most useful. In today’s hyper-rational, data-driven world, it is easy to accidentally dissociate from our own desires. Your subconscious can serve as your guide back to what you want. So listen out for your intuition. Pay attention to it. It has meaningful information to convey. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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