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What to Do When You Just Can’t Make the Decision

What to Do When You Just Can’t Make the Decision

How often have you dithered while making a decision, not knowing which is the correct choice? Life puts us at crossroads many a time and choosing one road over the other by carefully balancing the pros and cons of each, listening to that gut feel and not letting others influence your decisions is very important – if you want to be happy with your lot in life… Decision making is an important skill that we all need to move up and forward, in our career as well as in life.

But Why is Decision Making So Tough?

Frankly, on any given day, we often end up making hundreds of small and maybe insignificant decisions. When to get up, to exercise or not, what to wear, what to eat, where to go, how to go and much, much more? These decisions are made in a split second and are easy enough to figure but because they don’t really affect the outcome of anything per se – our breakfast choice, as long as it healthy and filling enough, does not alter the future of us or the world.

This changes when the decision has been made complicated by external factors. What you wear to the office on a usual day is not much of an issue, but when you have that all-important interview lined up, then your outfit becomes an important decision-making process. If you have difficulty in making decisions, and agonize over your choices for days to come, wondering whether what you did was right, you need to stop. [1]

While we would never advise you make split-second decisions and just plunge in without weighing the pros and cons – you do have to make the decision quickly and concisely and remember these thoughts.

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  • More thinking is not always good thinking.
  • Learn to trust your intuition or gut feel.
  • Give a deadline to decision making.
  • Accept that you cannot always have it all; you might have to compromise a little.
  • Finally, is a decision you took ultimately proves to be wrong – remember that life does hand you lemons sometimes.

How Do I Improve My Decision Making Skills?

Knowing that you have a problem with decision making is a good step. Recognize the signs – if you can’t even order dinner for yourself, then it may be time to polish up your decision-making skills, stiffen your spine and trust what your gut is telling you…

The 10/10/10 Rule To Make Tough But Necessary Decisions

Suzy Welch is a business writer for various respected publications and she invented a simple tool that can help us decide either way, how to move ahead. [2]. Called 10/10/10, and described by Welch in a book of the same name, it advises that we think about the decision we are about to make on three different time frames: How will we feel about it 10 minutes from now? How about 10 months from now? How about 10 years from now? This tool basically helps us see things with a fresh perspective and makes sure that regret is not part of our life – if we can foresee that a decision we make now is likely to leave us with regret later, it means that you head down another road that foresees a happier future.

Face Your Fears And Then Move Forward

A lot of time, decision making paralyzes us, so to speak because we are afraid of the outcome. We fear the result our decision will bring and if basically are so anxious about it, analyzing it to the nth degree so much so we end up frozen in anguish. The key to getting out of this deep freeze is to face and name those fears. Write down the worst things that could happen with the decision you are about to make – for instance, you have a big problem with your spouse and want to air out your grievances. But you are afraid that this will lead to a big fight or even a separation down the road.

The next step is to see – can you cope up with that worst scenario? If it does come to a separation or even a divorce – can you cope with being single, can your children? Think about it long and hard and you might see that while your fears and the worst-case scenario are tough, they just might be manageable as well. [3]

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Stuck? Write Down the Pros & Cons

TED Talker Ruth Chang has a devised a simple way to expedite those decision-making skills. She says you write down the pros and cons of the decision you are about to make for there are no correct or incorrect choices. As people, we are subliminally dictated by our desires and need, even if we ruthlessly tamp them down. This solution is very effective when we are stuck with two choices, and both seem good. Stuck between two marriage proposals, two jobs or two schools for the kids… [4]

If you list out the pros and cons of both your options, you will see the pros of one getting longer than the other – usually, your innate desire or your gut will be making the decision for you. Go with your gut and just leave everything else to the cosmos.

Be Careful of Miswanting & Making Decisions Based on it

Experts say that we end up making the wrong decisions simply because we end up confusing our likes, with our wants. As human beings, we are subject to our emotions and feelings. But feelings don’t really tell us where they come from – and since we often misunderstand their source, we end up not knowing what we liked about our situation in the first place.

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Also, we may want something – and end up confusing the yearning with actual liking. So we may want to see the Louvre, but do we actually like it? We don’t know. We may want a new look… Do we like it? Don’t know…

So sometimes, our decisions should be based more on our likes, than our wants. For instance, we may want to take a trip to an exotic locale. But we know that we like being in the beautiful solitude of the hills, rather than the hub-bub of a Caribbean island. The decision should then be to go to the hills – for that is what we like… [5]

Escape From The Paradox Of Choice

Many years back, decision making was easier than what it is today. Why? Because it did not involve so many choices. Buying a shirt was easy because all you had to do was choose the size and the color. Now if you go to buy a shirt – you got to choose the type, the fit, the buttons, the fabric, the cut, the stitch, the pattern, the collar, the color, the size, and the micro-size.

As Barry Schwartz puts it so eloquently in his TED Talk [6] – we have so many choices today, that each of our decision, be it good or bad comes with the unique flavor of regret – since we end up thinking maybe A, B, C or X, Y, Z was a better choice than the D I chose. And this happens everywhere – in our jobs, the sandwich we buy, the ice cream flavor we finally choose or even the car or the latest pieces of tech we so adored, but now wonder about…

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The solution is to keep it simple – choose 2-3 alternatives, turn a blind eye to the others and go with your gut. As for the rest, let the world carry on dithering – you have made your decision, be happy with it. There’ll always be people who think of you the fool, for the choice you make. The point being, if you are happy, why should you care at all?

Featured photo credit: Medical Daily via images.medicaldaily.com

Reference

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Rima Pundir

Health, Wellness & Productivity Writer

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Published on October 30, 2020

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

  • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
  • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
  • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
  • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

1. Meditations

    One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

    We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

    All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

    Buy Meditations here.

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    2. Letters From a Stoic

      Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

      While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

      Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

      3. Nicomachean Ethics

        Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

        Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

        4. Beyond Good & Evil

          Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

          Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

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          Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

          5. Meditations on First Philosophy

            In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

            Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

            6. Ethics

              Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

              Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

              Buy “Ethics” here.

              7. Critique of Pure Reason

                Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

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                In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                  Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                  In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                  Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                  9. Everything Is F*cked

                    The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                    While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                    Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

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                    Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                    Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                    10. Reasons and Persons

                      One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                      Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                      Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                      11. The Republic of Plato

                        Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                        Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                        More Books to Open Your Mind

                        Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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