Big Decisions

My sons, aged 5 and 6, had an interesting conversation at breakfast the other day. They got on the topic of thinking and feeling somehow (I came in part way through) and my youngest made the declaration “Daddy, feeling is definitely more important than thinking!” My oldest, who is as siblings often are wired completely differently than his little brother, looked at him quizzically and countered with “Seriously? Daddy, thinking is definitely more important than feeling.”

I had to laugh as I often do when listening to my little rascals pontificating on the deeper questions in life and I must admit I was a impressed with how sure each was of his own opinion on the matter. When they turned to me for confirmation of their respective beliefs, I did my best to explain in 5 and 6 year old terms that thinking and feeling are two complementary parts of a larger whole. In other words, both were important to effectively handling the decisions – both small and large – that we all face in life.

Decisions are best made when your heart is untroubled and your mind is at peace. Decisions have a funny way of driving a wedge between heart and mind or of disturbing one or the other or both. The larger the decision, it seems, the greater the potential for upset.

Those who have achieved mastery in self-expression have learned to keep both mind and heart at peace no matter how high the stakes or complicated the decision at hand. Those who have yet to become masters in this way (note to self: this is not an exclusive club…both “intellectuals” and “feeling” people can attain mastery) tend to struggle mentally or wrestle with their feelings as they approach the forks in the road of life. “Struggling with” always implies “subjection to” and such subjection invariably leads to a loss in perspective.

Everyone desires an optimal outcome but effective decision-making is hampered when heart and mind are troubled or impaired by unrelieved tension. Optimal outcomes are sometimes achieved when heart and mind are under duress, but only by means of dumb luck.

More often than not I’ve found that unrelieved tension seeps into and begins to restrict heart or mind when decisions are squared against short-term desires or wants. If you fail to take your life’s purpose into account whenever you make a decision you are much more likely to go off on a tangent or to miss the opportunity to get back on track. When you are off-track, tension tends to build. Remember being lost in a car with your parents on a road trip?

Your heart and mind provide you with valuable tools and critical feedback as you approach any decision. It matters not if you see yourself as a “thinker” or a “feeler” because heart and mind are naught but the prisms through which the “you” that you are refracts and is magnified out into the world around you.

A builder would assure you that his tools must be sharp, clean and well-oiled for the job to go as well as it can. Why would it be any different when it comes to the tools of heart and mind that you are blessed to have at your command?

9 thoughts on “Big Decisions

  • Great subject. As I look back on my life I find many decisions were actually more reaction than calculated. Short term thinking is the inception of many decisions that alter lives forever. Short term thinking initiated by a passion,love or hate, is the the worst. Strong emotion is always one half of the equation it has to be balanced by wisdom and squared to purpose. I wish I’d had this discussion at 5years old!

  • As usual this post is very timely for some things that I have been thinking about in my life. Managing short term wants in relation to long term goals can sometimes feel tricky, but I can see that the solution is always clear and easy when you keep in mind that you should never sacrifice long term purpose for a short term want. If you keep that in mind, there is never any bickering between heart and mind because you know exactly what your parameters are.

  • Terrific story! Interesting that such profound topics begin to percolate at such an early stage, but in another way not surprising. This has been an age-old struggle for people as they have tried to determine the relative value of feelng and thought.

    Your boys are fortunate that you can help them set a non-conflicting context for this field of consideration, because its ramifications will permeate their lives in one way or another. A balanced respect and appreciation for the feeling and thinking capacities is at the root of the ability to make creative and appropriate decisions, large or small, and our lives do emerge from those decisions. A wise person will both feel the import of your words and think creatively about them!

  • Yes your timing is perfect! It seems many of us are considering decisions in our lives at this time. Thank you for your words regading putting our long term purpose in perspective relative to our short term wants. This does allow for our hearts to come to rest and our minds to relax the tension of trying to make a decision allowing for the right path to be discerned.

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