MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “decisions”

The maze reshuffle

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-RqdbxMGkQpI/UDhAenCh6dI/AAAAAAAAAtM/-arzm8l6Ty4/s1600/P1200633.JPGAndreas was trapped in a maze. He didn’t know how he got in there. Ever since he could remember, he was trying to find his way out. He was surrounded by high walls; by turns that led to dead-ends; by paths that kept closing in on him.

Every time he thought he saw some light at the end of a corridor, at a turn, something strange would happen, as if the entire maze would reshuffle itself.

And the way out changed location. Again.

Andreas grew tired. Nothing seemed to work. He would never get out.

He took a few moments to calm himself down. He looked around and saw the high green plant-covered walls stare imposingly down at him.

Suddenly a rainbow-coloured bird flew over his head.

Andreas stood up. That was his ticket out.

He raced behind the bird, eager not to let it out of his sight.

It seemed like hours he was running after his winged ally, when finally he felt the sun’s rays penetrating through the maze walls. And just before another rearrangement occurred, he was out.

He couldn’t believe it at first. He looked around and saw a large green field, hills on the background and fresh air breezing around him.

Then he heard a voice calling, “are you alright? Are you OK?

His girlfriend was gently shaking his shoulders as Andreas revived from the hallucination. He had fallen from the ladder he had climbed as they were renovating their home. An intense disagreement they had made him slip off a step after she left the room.

The maze dream made him realise that things in life are always going to be complicated. And the more we search for answers, the more life will change the questions. So what we can do is try to worry less, argue less, stress less and laugh a bit more. When we calm down, we will find the way out of any situation.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Maze

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.

The “or” in choices

http://simplymusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/fresh-perspective-1024x336.jpgThe day began a bit strange. Because it should have begun the way it usually does. With the alarm buzzing and her hand emerging from under the covers to slam it silent. Then she would roll over the other side. And two minutes later jump out of bed having just realised she was supposed to get up and go to work.

But today it was different.

The alarm didn’t go off.

Or rather. It did. She just didn’t hear it.

And she suddenly found herself wavering between options. Or rather dilemmas. She could get up and go to work, making up an excuse for her tardiness. Or she could stay in bed and call in sick. But then she should also cancel her coffee appointments, in case somebody from work happened to see her. Or she could change them to house calls instead of café meetings.

She could chose to get up and deal with the world. Or she could stay in bed and pretend it’s all hushed away.

Either way, she had to make a decision.

We all do. There is always an “or” in whatever choice we need to make. It just depends on the perspectives we see things at any given moment. And how we choose to react to the options that lie before us.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Or

The robbers of our thoughts

http://www.chinatour.com/uploads/1404895010.jpgWe think too much. So much that having second thoughts seems natural. Only they come for almost everything and steal away the thunder of the impulses we make as first thoughts. Then slowly the excitement of what we first considered begins to fade away, transforming into doubt and allowing those second thoughts to question all the actions and choices we make.

Euripedes had said, “among mortals, second thoughts are wisest”. Sometimes, however, dwelling too much on a decision to take will only fill you with even more doubt, to the extent that you will never be truly satisfied with whatever choice you finally do make.

Sometimes we just need the impulses. To spice up our lives. To discover that not everything needs to be planned. And to realise that, for whatever reason, there are things that just happen. And we are happier because they do. With no questions, no doubts, no second thoughts.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Second Thoughts

The wrong choice

http://www.oliviabthompson.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/136e5d2f385-6148-45b2-bf78-1a8d33a2c912.jpgPatricia was a push-over. She was the kind of person who would allow others to dictate her will, simply because she was too afraid to say anything. She was small-structured and timid, but had a smile that could light up an entire room. She feared not being liked, and that led to her being unable to say “no” even to things she did not want or believe. For her, that was her vice.

As experiences mounted on her shoulder, she began to see that for a person to survive in this world, one needs to be able to refuse certain things. To know when to appear decisive and stubborn, even at the expense of someone else’s judgement at that moment.

But she still had difficulty realising that very acknowledgement. And she kept falling into the trap. Because even though she could see that these were the wrong choices to make, the ones that would lead to more trouble in the end, she made them anyway.

Not everything makes sense. Not everything has to.  But certain things make you look back in regret and remorse at not being smarter sooner.

Patricia realised it when she met a handsome lawyer on the bus one day. He was exactly what she wasn’t: confident, decisive, at times even arrogant due to his obstinate nature. But she fell for him. And she found out that when you love, you sometimes lose control. That is when she understood that in life we need a balance. We need to be able to view our actions pre-emptively, taking into account their impact and consequences.

We sometimes make the wrong choices only to fully comprehend the magnitude of making the right ones when the time comes.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Vice

The benefits of expecting nothing

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/271/19556344430_40ee1d3f10_b.jpgSurprises are beautiful because they come without waiting for them. Without expecting them to happen. And that often augments that wonderful feeling of euphoria that overwhelms you when you realise that sometimes what you are looking for comes when you’re not looking at all.

The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us” (Ashley Montagu).

It is like when we were children and out of the blue received small presents, simply for acing a test, or because there was a toy on offer, or because we hadn’t seen a particular relative for some time. Remember how excited you got then? From those little drops of unexpected happiness that got you active for hours, if not days?

There is a saying that happiness sneaks in through a door that you did not even know was open.

From impromptu decisions you may take, which may later affect your life in greater ways than you may have ever imagined. In simply allowing yourself to take a chance and try something different. In living every day as it comes, fully and deeply.

Sometimes it is indeed better not to expect things to happen. Because it’s better to feel surprised than disappointed. And in the end, it is the unexpected that changes our lives.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Childhood

Hope is a waking dream

Dare to dreamAlison went to bed with a dilemma: should she make the call the next day or not?

Should she appear bold enough and take the risk, her heart pounding as she dialed the number and waited for someone to respond; her throat drying up as soon as she heard the greeting at the other end of the line; and improvising whatever she needed to say, although she had already practiced it in her head so many times?

Or should she just forget about it all? If it was meant to be, they would call her themselves. Wouldn’t they?

Should she just leave it up to fate? Or should she give it a push herself? Maybe they did need a reminder. But what if they thought she was too forward by calling?

She tossed and turned in bed, unable to sleep, the “what-ifs” circling in her head.

Alison managed to sleep for a couple of hours.

In the morning, the dilemma was still in her head. But in the spur of the moment, without thinking too much about it, she took the phone and dialed. All she could do now was hope.

If it worked out, great; if it didn’t, then at least she tried.

“Hope is a waking dream” – Aristotle.

How fast is too fast?

fastTime is one thing that constantly surrounds us. We spend our entire day looking at a clock, scheduling our daily activities according to time. And we are continually thinking that it is either moving too fast or too slow. We are either complaining that we don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything we want, or moaning that time is moving too slow and we are bored. For the latter there are many solutions, as you can always find something to do if you are willing. But what about when there is not enough time? Because, honestly, how fast is moving too fast?

Is 60mph too fast? On a highway it is not, but in a residential area it is considered reckless. Is diving into a relationship head over heels from the first month going too fast? It all depends on what you feel, what you’ve been through and where you see everything going. And what about taking decisions at the spur of the moment? Sometimes, being in a hurry leads to really wrong outcomes. But other times, it may lead to the best opportunities you will ever have.

It is all a matter of perspective. Of weighing in your heart and mind the pros and cons of what you do and deciding consciously and decisively what you want to do. Nothing is too fast if you do it in full knowledge of the consequences of your actions. You might regret it later on in time, but that too is an experience. Just imagine how wonderful it would be though if a “fast” decision leads to the most amazing happening of your life. Wouldn’t that make it all worth it?

Raising a castle from the ground

CUORE-DI-LEONE-FRONTMy grandmother always told me that you should never give women a response as vague as “do what you think, dear”. Because if you do, she is not responsible for the surprise you will receive.

I think she was the one who invented this rule.

Grandfather was always specific with his responses. He never said “do what you think”, but always presented her with at least two options. So, for example, if she would ask “what do you want for dinner tomorrow?”, he would say “how about some fried chicken, or perhaps some lamb stew?”. He had realized that if he offered two options, he would at least get the one. But there were always times when grandmother decided to implement a third option that she herself had decided upon.

Women are crazy and insistent like that. There was no way you could understand the manner their minds worked. Grandfather said it was not even worth trying. You would sooner be driven crazy than even begin to comprehend them.

Grandfather had learnt his lesson when during the early years of their marriage he had gone off on a three-day hunting trip with his friends. Grandmother was left alone in the house, having plenty of things to do and being content with simply running the household.

But she soon got bored and on the second day called grandfather to ask if he wouldn’t mind a few changes being made in the house’s construction. He gave the unfortunate response of “sure, do whatever you think is best, my dear”.

Grandmother kept herself busy, frantically and excitedly creating in reality what she had already constructed in her mind.

When grandfather returned two days later, he had to run around the house twice, thinking he made a wrong turn somewhere and ended up at someone else’s house. The house he had left, that simple, stone-walled maisonette he had departed from, had disappeared and in its place there had been erected a renaissance-style villa, with fifteen steps and a huge porch leading to the two-doored entrance of a three-storey house. The back yard featured a stable and a hencoop, while the entire perimeter was confined by an elegantly crafted wooden fence. Grandmother rushed out to greet him, beaming with joy. “Do you like the new changes?” she asked, obviously rhetorically. Grandfather was speechless. Grandmother took it to mean he loved them.

Women are crazy like that. They can raise castles out of molehills in less time than you need to go to the market and return. Yet they will always ask for your opinion, even for something simple as the colour of their shoes, but never listen to what you say. Either way, you have to admit, life would be really boring without them.

The voices in your head

voices_in_head_xlargeYou know those voices in your head, the ones that appear every time you try to rationalize a decision? The ones that you picture like two tiny “you” like cartoon characters dressed like an angel and a demon standing on each of your shoulders? Those voices that either agree with you or (vulgarly) disagree with you? What? You don’t have them? Everyone does. It just depends on how much you listen to them, that you keep them alive and present. Marcia knew it well. Because she conversed daily with the voices in her head.

But it usually got her into trouble.

Like today.

Last night Alan had told her on the phone that he had something to tell her, but wouldn’t give out any more details. He said he would tell her in person today. Being a naturally very curious person, Marcia could hardly sleep all night. She kept thinking what it was that Alan wanted to tell her.

Alan was the next-door neighbor Marcia had a crush on ever since she moved in. He seemed to flirt with her every so often but Marcia had read signs so wrong in the past that she didn’t really know what to think. Unless he came straight out and blurted to her that he liked her, she would never feel certain.

But, what was it that he wanted to say to her? This is when the voices took center stage. The angel would say that he would ask her out on a date. Or he would make a romantic gesture. Or he would confess that she stole his heart from the very first look they shared. Marcia was delighted with the prospect. She could already feel her heart flutter with joy and her hands shaking with excitement.

But then, the devil took over. And he filled her with doubt and suspicion. That he already had a girlfriend and wanted to ask her to house-sit while they went away for a romantic weekend. That he wanted to tell her he was moving out. Or even worse that he was getting married and wanted to invite her. The horror. Marcia could feel the heat rise up and strike her head, just like the opposite of a brain freeze, if such a thing even existed.

She began considering what she would say in each occasion. She had to be prepared. Being caught off guard for bad news, especially when you were hoping for good ones, is the most embarrassing thing that could happen to you, according to Marcia. So, she spent the entire night and all through dawn quarreling with the voices in her head about what Alan wanted to tell her and how she would respond.

She got up today having hardly slept at all at night.

And when Alan appeared at the door all smiling and bright, Marcia was such a nervous wreck, she broke down in tears and slammed the door in his face.

Alan was dumbfounded. All he wanted to say was that the book Marcia had been expecting for weeks now had finally arrived and he had signed for it. He simply wanted to give it to her himself because he loved how her eyes lit up with the excitement of even simple things like this.

Who knew he would have been beaten by two little voices in her head?

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