This isn't exactly a working system, and I didn't invent it, but it's thought provoking, has the necessary eds earmarks in spades, and speaks to a virtue I'm sorely lacking: decisiveness (I'm very persistent once I've finally arrived at a decision, but man does it take a while).
Here's the system in its pure form: aspire to make all decisions, great and small, within the space of seven breaths. This is part of the code of Bushido, as espoused by the main character of the Jim Jarmush move "Ghost dog." (Though I'd seen the film, I'd forgotten this scene -- thanks anonymous coworker for reminding me of it)
Crazy? Impossible? Maybe. But also interesting and useful. Here's why.
Thanks our wealth and freedom as first worlders, we have an unprecedented number of decisions to make -- most of them rather small -- and an unprecedented amount of information available with which to make these decisions. All in all, this is a good thing. But there is a cost: decision making is expensive. It costs time, and it produces the "negative externality" stress. Having hundreds of tiny unmade decisions looming over you, even if you aren't consciously thinking about them, means constant low-level stress (the worst kind, the kind that gives you heart attacks) -- and they distract you from big decisions. Do I really need to spend hours reading product reviews on amazon to save $5 on an mp3 cd player? Just in terms of pure wage economics, is that decision really worth that much of my time?
But even more importantly, I think this "little" indecisiveness carries over to big things. Hours on amazon translates to years or "never" when the stakes are truly high.
For most of our existance on earth, we had far fewer decisions to make -- but they tended to be weighty and urgent ("quick! there's a bear coming!"). Death, that great crystalizer of thought, tended be directly or indirectly involved.
I'm going to continue to allow myself a few more breaths for the big decisions, but for the little stuff, I might give this a shot. Who knows? If I manage it, 7 breaths might not seem so crazy even for the big stuff. In any case, it will be good training in general purpose decisiveness. Maybe not quite as effective as a deadly bear, but those have negative externalities of their own.
Hey, I love Jim Jarmusch..
My fave is Night on Earth!
Yeah, procrastination, and vacillation, overplanning and overthinking anything basically takes us away from "the moment".. And it's just sooooo draining!
Not to sound cliched, but when we, instead, "go with the flow", we are heeding a much much wiser source of information than our puny little minds could ever contain.. The Universe... I'm not saying that it's always easy to do this (with the exception of the Bear attack scenario! LOL..), and our overachieving "Doing" modern day culture certain doesn't honor *Being* as highly as *Doing*, so it's up to us to cultivate it, regardless of the external pressure to be "doing stuff" all the time...
I will read your post again sometime later, cuz I'm only taking a teeeeeny little break from my chores here today, and must get back to them...
It was so nice to read something fresh off the Reinhard presses!
Kudos for your newest insight!
I would like to suggest a little book which I love, which helps with developing our inner voice and ability to live in the flow of life...
I think it's called "Developing Intuition"... by a wonderful self help writer named Shakti Gawain...
It's pretty small, and easy to grasp and use, as a workbook...
But just remember Reinhard, sometimes it's just as important to *not* take action, as well, so don't beat yourself up for not moving on some of the things you have planned...
I hope you don't start using Bear technology...
We would really miss you..
(But that would really make for an interesting quicktime video! Talk about lighting a fire under yer behind! LOL...)
Thanks again for that funny and "Break worthy" post~
Back to my messy place now! Clearly the dishes will be put off till the very very last moment! LOL...
Joined: 12 Jul 2005 Posts: 91 Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Posted: Tue Nov 29, 2005 3:52 am Post subject: Decision making
You can also beat yourself up too much over not being decisive and taking quick action. A quote I saw in a magazine article "Things I wish I knew at 25 that I now know at 50" is:-
"Sometimes doing nothing is a brilliant move."
I have on several occassions found this to be very true. Wait for circumstances to change or the other side to change their mind (if there is another side). You could call it procrastination, but sometimes it is good strategy - you can't get beaten in Chess if you don't have to make the next move!
Also, the reason attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity disorder cause problems is kids (usually) don't have some procrastination between thinking a thought and acting it out. Though I think seven breathes would probably work for them if you could get them to do it!
you can't get beaten in Chess if you don't have to make the next move!
Well, your clock will run out though and you'll lose that way. _________________ Before criticizing someone, you should try walking a mile in their shoes. Then you'll be a mile away and you'll have their shoes.
Joined: 31 Mar 2006 Posts: 320 Location: Reading, UK
Posted: Tue Apr 11, 2006 4:32 pm Post subject:
A thought on not taking action:
The failure to take any action on the basis of indecision is different to inaction on the basis of a decision.
That came out rather more prosaic than intended.
I choose to take my seven breaths (which is about thirty seconds; conveniently the same time as that for a minimum stretching exercise) from the moment I have all of the information I think I need to make a decision. This will, of course, vary wildly. If, for example, I am being attacked by a wild mongoose with an axe, I will process the relevant information quickly and run away.
This brings another thought to mind (the information gathering part, not the bit about the mongoose): should the length of the decision making process be related to the long term effects of the decision? Is the 'gut reaction' just a way of justifying a conclusion that our subconscious mind has already reached? How many Norrises would a Chuck Norris Norris if a Chuck Norris could Norris Chuck?
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