Both were good options.
It was a sunny morning, and I was trying to decide how to best use my time off. I could either sit in the sun with a cup of tea, or head over to a local meditation center. Either would be restful. Either would give me energy. But I only had time to do one of them that morning.
Deciding was not easy. I paced the apartment with short and quick steps. My mind raced as it pondered the insignificant pros and cons of each option. My decision about how to rest was anything but restful.
We make countless decisions every day.
A few of them are big and deserve lots of thought and deliberation. Those type of decisions are in the minority though. Most of the time, what we decide isn’t as big a deal.
Agonizing over such choices isn’t helpful. It reduces our mental energy, diminishing our ability to focus on the occasions we actually need it. And we often don’t even end up with a better decision. We get the stress without any gain for that stress.
For such decisions, there’s a process I’ve found helpful.
Start by breaking down the decision into a “yes or no” or “this or that” kind of choice. Make it a selection between two or three options. Sometimes the choice is hard because we don’t actually know what we’re deciding between. It’s all in the abstract.
At this point, you can see more clearly between the options. That may be enough for you to choose. Your intuition will give a clear indicator of what to do.
But sometimes, that isn’t enough. In that case, I apply the following, highly sophisticated decision making framework.
Step one. Find a coin. If you have one, a Kenyan Shilling is best. I hear they are more lucky, but that could just be me.
Step two. Assign option one to heads and option two to tails. Be sure to remember exactly which is which. Write it down if you have to.
Step three. Commit to acting on the outcome of the toss. This is very important.
Step four. Flip the coin. Do a best of three if you want. Occasionally, as you flip the coin, you’ll find yourself rooting for a specific outcome. If you do, trust your intuition and go with that option.
Step five. Act on the outcome.
It sounds silly, but it’s effective. The beauty of the coin is it lays bare the randomness of life. It makes us aware of how much in life is simply a matter of chance. It shows us that life is less about the specific circumstances, and more about the mindfulness and attitude we bring to those circumstances.
Often, what we decide is not as important as deciding.
The coin spun in the air, glistening in the sunlight, and landed on my palm. Heads it was.
I put on my shoes and headed out to join the group meditation. It was good.