Ever wondered what causes one to live a life of joy and success, and another to struggle and suffer constantly? I think I figured it out.
A unique capacity all humans have is the ability to make decisions. In nearly every moment of our existence we are making decisions. We decide what we are going to wear, what to have for breakfast, which way we are going to drive to work, and on and on. Although it is out of our awareness we are also constantly deciding what to focus on, what to think, how to respond and how to feel.
In order to make decisions we engage in a mental process that runs through a number of steps until the decision is made and action is taken. For each of us this sequence or decision making strategy is mostly out of our awareness- it goes on behind the scenes and under the radar. Also, for each of us this process is highly individual- we each make decisions in our own unique way.
But besides decisions in the now, we have been making decisions all our lives. As soon as our mental and intellectual capacities begin to develop, the unconscious decision making process gets underway. Without even being aware of it, at a very young age we begin to decide what we want, what to value, what things mean to us, what to believe, what to think and feel and how to respond to various circumstances. These early decisions become set and when we are older we find ourselves thinking and behaving in preset ways and wondering why. Even the way in which we make decisions was set with a decision.
The quality of our lives is a direct result of our decision making strategy. Some people live extraordinary lives filled with love, abundance and happiness while others struggle for these things day in and day out. I believe that the difference that makes the difference in the quality of people’s lives is the quality of the decision making strategy that has guided each one of us through every day of our lives.
Here’s why. Throughout life, whenever we are faced with new circumstances or challenges, the mind runs a process to decide how to respond. The mind begins to shuffle through possible responses until it settles on one that is appropriate. Your mind has done this ever since you were extremely young. Once it settles on a response it thinks it appropriate, it puts it into practice. The responses it chooses become habituated- we end up with habitual ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. So what makes the difference in the quality of life?
Some people have excellent decision making strategies. When this process runs, the end result is empowering and enables the individual to respond to situations and circumstances in a way that enhances life. But there are those whose decision making strategy is flawed. The responses chosen at the end of the sequence leave them disempowered and at the mercy of their thoughts, their emotions and their life circumstances.
Today, many in the field of psychology and personal development agree that whatever we experience is, on some level, a choice, whether conscious or unconscious. If someone experiences depression, for example, this was likely an unconscious choice of how to respond to a given set of circumstances. The person’s mind ran through the possibilities of how to respond to challenges and the best possibility it found was the one it implemented. When the decision making process ends with such a disempowering result, I would say the strategy is flawed.
So what makes the difference between someone who ends up with resilience and empowerment and someone who ends up with the opposite?
There are two vital factors. The first is creativity. As the mind shuffles through possibilities, how creative is it in generating options? Does it just consider old default options that didn’t work in the past or does it generate new possibilities that might work better in the future?
Imagine going through life constantly making decisions with no access to your creative resources. You will constantly react out of old patterns and end up with the same results you have always ended up with. As you go through life you gain wisdom and experience, you learn from others around you and even have options and possibilities presented to you from books, television and movies. All these things can be drawn on to increase your creative potential for responding to different circumstances.
The most important aspect of the decision making strategy is what I call anti-virus software. When a decision is made and an appropriate response is settled upon, does the mind run a quality control check to make sure this is really the best response? In strategies that lead to disempowerment it does not and there are negative consequences. If the strategy ends with, “Ya, this will do” without a bit of “Hm, what might be wrong with this? Is there anything better?” life will be pretty rocky. This final step weeds out responses that disempower like depression, worry, anxiety, frustration, stress, overwhelm etc.
I realized one day as I looked back on the past on how I had become who I had become that in my own decision making strategy all throughout life there was both a lack of creativity and a lack of quality control. This left with responses to the challenges of life that were less empowering. I had to update my internal software and program in a new strategy that would enhance the quality of my life from that point on.
If your life isn’t the way you want it, take a look at how you have been making decisions about how to respond to life. You can always choose new and better ways of responding to what life sends your way.