The Value of Decision

Lexi, my Red-tailed Hawk hunting partner, has taught me a great many things over the last two-and-a-half years. I have a deep respect for her hunting style, which centers around an uncluttered capacity for decision.

Human beings have it relatively easy. We don’t, generally speaking, have to risk life and limb every time we eat. We don’t, in our homes or at a restaurant, have to perform death-defying feats that push us to the edge of our physical and mental envelope to keep our food from escaping before it is served. Hawks do, each and every meal.

There’s nothing like facing a life-or-death situation to test your capacity for decision and your resolve once you’ve committed. Lexi approaches the split-second decisions she must make when chasing her quarry with with an intense focus and an inimitable grace. She is not, of course, endowed with the complex (and often overly and unnecessarily complicated) consciousness that her falconer and his fellow humans possess; nevertheless, her majestic example serves as an inspiration and a challenge, a call to continuous refinement of the capacity for decision.

The greatest single impediment to decisiveness is found in a troubled heart. The mental faculties are not typically the root of indecision, in fact, it is the overly and unnecessarily complicated emotional environment in which we tend to flail around as we move pillar to post instead of steadily forward on our journey through time. A troubled heart disrupts the normal thinking processes, creating a state akin to hypoxia.

As a pilot who has had specific training in hypoxia-awareness, I can aver to the fact that hypoxia’s debilitating effect on the mental processes is secondary to the peril of the false and misleading sensation of well-being that accompanies it. The problem with hypoxia is that you tend to feel great, if not euphoric, at the very moment that you should be most concerned.

So it is with a troubled heart. When your heart is troubled – either overjoyed or dejected – your perception of what is really occurring, that is, the truth of the matter, is skewed. As such, when you are faced with a difficult decision you are wise to first come to the point where your heart is as untroubled as possible. When your heart is at rest your mind has a much better chance at working as it was designed to work, i.e. a tool for rational thought rather than a tool for rationalization.

When your heart is troubled your mind will tend to waste its energies trying to make sense of the distorted and unreliable information it is receiving from your heart. Like walking through a hall of mirrors or making your way through a busy room while wearing a pair of your friends glasses, you have to think extra hard to find your way through the situation and the course you take is rarely optimal.

How you let your heart come to rest is for you to decide. Sometimes a couple of deep breaths and counting slowly to ten will do it. Other times indulging in a brief distraction to “take your mind off of it” for a moment can help. Some, I’ve heard, even benefit from “sleeping on it” as the opportunity permits. There are many techniques that can help you in this regard, but ultimately you’ll find that deliberately cultivating an unflappable appreciation for the privilege of decision and adopting a radiant stance in all that you undertake is the key to maintaining an untroubled heart every waking moment of your life.

If you have a better day today because of what you’ve learned, don’t thank me. Thank Lexi. Thank the natural world around you. Give thanks and give freely of yourself and better days will no longer be the exception, but the rule.

7 thoughts on “The Value of Decision

  1. It is good to appreciate Lexi’s commitment to living characterized by intense focus and inimitable grace. It would seem she has an unflappable appreciation for the privilege of decision. And the scintillating wonder of moving through the air perfectly coordinated to find her meal for survival. As I think about it does not seem like survival just the pure expression of being oneself utilizing all of one’s capacitiy to soar and glide and meet swiftly the opportunities at hand. Thank you for the example of Lexi it fills me with wonder to meet my day and living.

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  2. Colin

    This is a really interesting post for me, as I have found in the past that when my heart was troubled it was sometimes difficult to have it be more at rest. I have found time to be the best fix so far, but I am really thinking that it would be better to not let I get that way in the first place, and that is where the radiant stance comes in. If you are always being raidiant and even in output, it is much more difficult for the heart to get troubled, and the correction is something that is much less severe.
    The mind-heart connection is a very important one to those looking to live a successful life. The connected heart and mind is a key to power, giving you the vital ability to make intuitive yet rational decisions.

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  3. Ricardo B.

    It’s so easy to get lost in a state of sizing up everything in your world, according to the way of how you think things should be. It’s because everybody is doing it, and so it would seem like you have to strive for your own independance in this way. The problem is of course that your heart’s orientation gets defaulted to the choices of other people and so you are in a state of reaction most of the time and it becomes increasingly more difficult to make sense of things. The mind as you say has to do the best it can to maintain you stable and I feel we cannot give our minds a fair shot at it if we are consumed in the process of emotionally judging the world around us.
    What’s made the most difference to me is never forgetting to count blessings. Fill your mind with the blessings that are always there and ease does come, reorientation does follow and the capacity to decide well is given the best chance. Thankfulness is strong armour to the conflicts in the world and in your own self.

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  4. Kimberly

    I’ve had the sleepless nights, confused feelings and the disconnect that happens in thinking. Learning to recognize the signs and not risk the hypoxia like trauma (and drama)has helped. I’ve found the book Heart Math to be a tremendous help in understanding how the heart works with our mind and how to do just what your suggesting today. Great post!

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  5. Strawberryfield

    Thanks Lexi!! Great tip …seeing the mind as ” a tool for rational thought rather than a tool for rationalization.” Makes good sense.

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