MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “decision-making”

Sleep on it

There are many reasons to list as to what keeps you up at night. Environmental factors, too much stress, over-exposure to screens, jet lag, heavy food, medicine, or uncomfortable conditions are among them.

Romanticists claim you lie awake because you appear in someone else’s dream.

But in essence, we can’t sleep because we subconsciously burden ourselves with too many thoughts. We won’t allow ourselves to let go of everything that troubles our brains during the day. Consequently, we can’t find that much required peace to relax, to breathe out and alleviate the pressure we exert on ourselves.

We need constructive outlets to enable our minds to wander. To stop thinking for a while. To simply get lost in the moment.

Some would suggest meditation, but that’s not as easy as it sounds, and it requires great effort.

A more feasible solution is a walk on the beach, or even a dive into the sea. Salty water helps in washing away the problems, which we often create ourselves. It will get us feeling refreshed, relaxed, and revived. An essential process in assisting us to gather the courage to face everything that is causing us the initial stress.

We need to find time to escape our worries, if we are to find the strength to effectively deal with them. We can’t sleep on the decisions we need to make, if we can’t fall asleep to begin with.

Change the perspective

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A storm was brewing. Literally. The weather was turning piercingly icier and the sun was in hiding. You could feel the wind changing.

But also metaphorically. People were evidently affected – they were colder in attitude too. Agitated, nervous, and too easily irritated.

It was all wrong. For no sensible reason.

So she decided to leave.

These are the best decisions; the get-up-and-go-on-the-inspiration moments. Because if you don’t think about certain things too much, they end up being the best decisions you ever make.

She acted upon the impulse to flee. And travelled all across the world to where the climate was exactly the opposite.

She didn’t exactly encounter a heatwave, but a much warmer weather, and a much kinder folk. People who had much less – of material belongings and wealth – yet much more heart and goodness. They knew how to enjoy the utmost of what they had, and to appreciate the instances, the smallest of heart-warming gestures, the gratitude of having even the slightest of everything.

If you step back from your own world and delve into someone else’s, perhaps you’ll just realise how lucky we are but never acknowledge it enough. Be grateful for everyday; for the goodness around you; and focus your energy on all you want to create, not on what you want to get rid of. Know who you are and what you want to achieve, but be careful who you choose to walk with in life, because in the wrong company you’ll never reach your destination.

Turn back time

What if you could turn back time; what would you do? Would you remedy the wrong choices made? The times when you did (not) go with your intuition? Would you make smarter decisions? Would you think more before leaping? Or would you instead be more daring, more impulsive, taking risks, wherever they may lead?

What would you do if you could turn back the clock? Where would you go and who would you be?

But the real question is, would you want to? Time changes us, it shapes us into who we are, and it informs our future decisions.

At some point or other, we all have found ourselves wishing we could go back and act wiser.

Given that this is impossible, however, perhaps what we should truly ponder is, what do we do now, with all that has happened, with all that we’ve faced, with all that we’ve become?

But above all, we need to situate ourselves with people with whom we lose track of time, not those who make us feel it is a waste of it. Wouldn’t it be better to feel that time has stopped, instead of wishing you could get it back?

The dawn of an adventure

©MCD_Antiparos

You know that time when the sun rises; when hardly anyone ever gets up to see it, but often some stay up past dawn to witness it before falling into bed? That majestic hour when life begins again as a new day commences. It signifies a new start and symbolises that there is always another chance for things to get better.

A new day is like embarking on an adventure. You don’t really know where it’ll lead you, but you need to get up and go in order to find out.

The hardest decision to make is always the first step you’ll take. It’s like diving into the sea. If you take it step by step the water always seems colder. But if you simply dive in, it’s actually refreshing.

We ponder too much.

All we need is to find the right people to support us, to hear us out when we simply need to babble on for a while, to say something that will soothe and reassure us, to help us get back on the right track when we lose our faith on the path we’ve taken. But mostly, we need people to walk that road with us. Because it’s in the hardships and the little things that we realise who are worthy of being part of our lives.

Until next time…

Let’s stay here”. She looked at him and he could see the longing reflected in her sparkling eyes. She was genuinely asking. All it took for him was to nod positively and she would fly off the hammock she had spent most of the day on and leap joyfully on the sand and into his arms.

This was the best vacation they had in a very long time.

They both felt carefree, relaxed, calm, and truly happy.

You know it’s not possible no matter how much I want to too…

Her eyes dropped, dimming the shine that was emanating from her entire body all this time.

But I promise you we’ll come back soon. Even if only for a weekend”.

The smile returned, but with less glow this time.

Perhaps one of the reasons this holiday was so perfect is because it lasted just the right amount of time”.

She nodded in agreement, as she marvelled at her sun-kissed hair and deeply tanned skin. She gazed past the turquoise blue sea into the horizon as the sun set, adding another memory into her mind.

Summer memories are stored in a drawer of your mind to look back on those dim winter days when you’re lying lazily on the couch.

He was most probably right, she thought. They had found the ideal place to go and relax, to see friends, have fun, and for – if only for a little while – stop worrying about everything and let life happen.

She recalled a Spanish proverb that says “how beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward”. How true. This summer she fully embraced its meaning. In fact, it is valid that “sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax” (Mark Black).

She laid back down on her hammock and watched the sun dive into the sea as the sky turned red.

She breathed in the smell of sea iodine and promised to treasure the moment. Until next time…

“You don’t always need a plan.  Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens.” – Mandy Hale

Roundabout questions

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So, what do you feel like doing tonight?

It’s a question that entails the freedom of decision, the willingness to abide by it, while also placing the ‘burden’ of finding something to do on the other person.

For indecisive people, this is a challenge.

“I don’t know, perhaps see a movie? We can either go to the cinema or order in and watch one at home”.

He smiled. She wasn’t finished. So he held back his reply a little longer.

What do you prefer?

The question-bounce-back, that returns the responsibility of choosing an activity to the original question-setter. Like a boomerang returning to the one who threw it.

If the person who initiated the conversation continues the questioning of the type, “whatever you want” or, even worse, poses another option, their indecisive interlocutor becomes lost and even more agitated by the daunting task of having to pick an entertainment. And doing something fun suddenly becomes a chore.

Let’s go out. I know you want to see the latest blockbuster and go for a stroll around town tonight”.

And just like that, peace is restored, tranquillity reigns and the smile returns to her face.

He was used to reading her mind even when she herself couldn’t.

Conserving the summer vibes

©MCD

It isn’t really the return that hurts the most. It’s the crash landing that you feel you subject yourself to when the holiday ends. Because now you have to return to everything you were trying to escape from, to hide from, to pretend they don’t exist. You have to garner the strength to face it all. The reality, the routine, the “normality” you allowed to fade away while you were enjoying the sun, the sea, the fun, the new relationships and experiences the season brings.

We easily fall into depression when the summer ends and we are forced to return to our “ordinary” lives with whatever that entails. Because “normal” has a different definition to each person.  And we strive, at least for the first couple of days, to maintain that optimism and joy the sunlit weeks brought upon us. We struggle to maintain not only the memories of the most enjoyable season of the year, but the mood it brings along. We hope it won’t fade as soon as our tan-line does.

But the thing is, every season has its perks. There is something to enjoy every month of the year – every day, even. We simply need to have the determination to put all those dreams we make when we’re relaxed into concrete actions at any time. Our goals aren’t really seasonally. We can dream and make plans and set targets all year round. And if we’re decisive and courageous enough to take the risk, we can make them happen. We may even be able to conserve that summer optimism and cheerful mood.

The signs we choose not to see

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In everyday life we are surrounded by all sorts of signs. Not only literally, but metaphorically too. In most life-changing decisions we take, we unconsciously look for signs to reveal to us we are on the right path, or to help us choose which route to take, what move to make.

However, no matter how many signs are thrown our way, we usually only see what we want to see. Often we ignore even the warning signs that things are not going well, the ones that serve as precautions, as awakenings trying to draw our attention to something, calling us to change.

We choose to ignore the signs that try to help us because we don’t want to see them at that moment. We want to believe in something different and we refuse to accept that sometimes things don’t always turn out the way we hoped or planned.

That is until one sign hits us hard like a slap in the face and we are forced to see what we’ve been pushing aside for so long. It’s a sign we can no longer ignore, revealing that a cycle has been closed and we need to find the courage to close the door to it and move on.

 It’s only when we’re ready to see the signs that we accept their presence. We just have to be brave enough to let them guide us, but not dictate our next moves.

Blink or Think

blinkThe real purpose of books is to trap the mind into doing its own thinking” (Christopher Morley). Some books excel at it. And it is not just the ones that engage you into travelling away from reality, but rather those that make you think more of it.

In Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell manages to do exactly that. He makes you consider how those first thoughts you have are the ones that matter the most and are often more correct than if you think thoroughly through something.

The book points out that “the key to good decision-making is not knowledge. It is understanding”. That is why, for instance, when people talk, we listen to their words and watch their eyes in order to pick up the expressive nuances that reveal if what they’re saying is true.

Through a series of stories and case studies, Gladwell attempts to “understand this mysterious thing called judgement – the kind of wisdom someone acquires after a lifetime of learning and watching and doing”. “From experience, we gain a powerful gift, the ability to act instinctively, in the moment. But it is easy to disrupt this gift”, because we live in a world saturated with information and sometimes that works against our judgement. Those subtle influences from our surroundings, our background, our experiences, our network, often very much affect the bias of our unconscious. As such, we are already prejudiced in our decisions, particularly if we dwell hard on them.

These are the “unexpected costs of knowing too much”. That you allow your judgement to be clouded by too many things – often stereotypes. “We are inundated with information and we have come to confuse information with understanding.” That is why, as the book very eloquently explains, “sometimes we can make better judgement with less information”.

The impression you form in a blink – in milliseconds – is in fact more truthful than the one you allow yourself to form after thinking a situation through and permitting the stereotypes in your head to barge through. The point is not to listen with your eyes, but with what your instinct tells you. It is the power of first impressions, of rapid cognition.

It is true of course that “there are some situations where the human mind needs a little help” – where more information is required to form a proper decision. After all, “truly successful decision-making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking”.

But, in the issues that matter most, perhaps the decisions that stem from the unconscious are the ones that will in the end make us happier.

Think about it. Maybe next time just trust that ‘blink’ you get as a first thought and see what happens.

Decisions, decisions…

DecisionsThe problem with being indecisive is that you don’t know what to do. It’s normal when you are faced with a tough decision that will affect your life. But when it concerns a seemingly easy decision, like for example what ice cream flavours to choose, then it becomes a problem, particularly because by the time you finally make up your mind, the ice cream parlour has closed and you are left with no ice cream.

Or for example when you go out to shop one thing and see a million others that you would like to purchase. Not being able to decide instantly means you end up with a large shopping spree and an often (over)charged credit card. Sometimes even without that one thing you had gone to buy in the first place.

However, things change when there are important decisions to make, such as where you want to live, for example, or what you want to do with your life. Lack of determination means you are forced to cohabitate with a confusion constantly stirring inside of you; one day it will erupt and it won’t be pretty.

Indecision is a torment. They say it is preferable to make a decision, no matter how wrong it may turn out to be, rather than not take any action at all. When you lurch from indecision to doubt of whether you’ve taken the right decision, to changing your mind, and eventually never deciding, you are in essence living in a nightmare, where in the end you end up exhausted by the internal struggle that is wearing out your psyche.

It is actually harder than it seems to make decisions, maybe that is why policy-makers are so highly paid – they have to decide for the fate of so many people. It takes strength, courage and a bit of audacity to state a choice and stand by it. It takes even more boldness to decide on something and then make it the right decision.

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