Ah ! Making decisions … agonising and painful or quick and easy ?

I’m not talking about the relatively minor decisions we make on a daily basis like what will I wear today, what’s for dinner, does he like me ? I’m talking about those big, juicy decisions to questions that require us to decide what is best for us, what do we believe.
Some examples :

  • Is there a God ?
  • What is the ultimate aim of my life ?
  • Under what authority do I live ?
  • What kind of man or woman will I be ?
  • What work will I do ?
  • Will I marry and if so, whom ?

See, told you they were juicy ! Made you stop and think a bit, right ?

When making a decision, we usually use one of the following as a basis for the decision :

  • Reason : ever made a decision because it was the “right thing to do” or because any “reasonable man” would have made the same choice ? The decision is reasonable, it makes sense, there are (often) good legal reasons to make the choice.  To me, this sounds like a firm basis on which to base a decision, but then I wonder who decides what is right, who is this reasonable man ?
  • Love : I think every parent in the world will understand love as a basis for taking decisions. Notice the level of purity of the love before you take a decision on this basis.
  • Virtue : Ah ! Here I see a limp wrist slapped against the brow proclaiming “because it’s the truth” ! Truth ? Awesome ! Whose truth would that be ? Mine ? Yours ? The universal truth ?
  • Duty : Gosh, I am allergic to this one – making a decision based on a sense of duty or responsibility. I can just see my Goddess of Divaness rising up and saying HELL NO ! I suppose I am jaded because this can so easily be construed as brain-washing or control. But, I am sure there is an up-side to this as well.
  • Fear : How many of us do this every day ? Oh, I can’t possibly do that because I am not clever/skinny/fun/fit/tall/short enough. Fear comes in so many guises to trip us up in our decision making. Become aware of when fear is in the driving seat of your decisions.

There is a silver lining … The decisions we make need not be binding for the rest of our natural lives. We have the opportunity in each moment to make different decisions that have the power to change the course of our lives.

I’ll leave you with some wisdom from Shri Shantananda Saraswati that provides some tips on how to discern “good” decisions from “bad” ones.

In the course of good actions, thoughts and feelings, the body responds naturally, harmoniously and mind supports them without any worry, distraction or hesitation. Reason supports them with authority, the heart responds openly, the whole being supports them. There is nothing to hide, nothing painful, it is good for the one who does it and for all who are related to it; happiness prevails. All is agreeable within and without. When the action is good then the outcome is auspicious. 

A bad action, thought or feeling is that which is concealed, done in the dark; the body is not free, mind does not freely support, reason opposes, heart cries, fear prevails and displeasure is felt within and without. It harms the individual and others. It is bound, limited and heavy; only habit supports such actions. The outcome of such actions, thoughts and feelings is inauspicious.