Modern life is complicate, a journey with many twists, turns and crossroads that lack any clear signposts. The old adage “decisions,decisions” becomes a truism and the pressures of modern life mount. How is it possible to approach a big decision without too much fear? Here are some ideas that may help.
Firstly, “get over your fear of maths.” Get some background in statistics, understanding odds and measuring probabilities. Knowing what the numbers mean is always going to help when sorting the wheat from the chaff.
Then,” Be reasonable, do your best, think it through but do not dither”. This statement believe it or not has its origins in Aristotelian Philosophy. It prompts an attitude that is believed to be integral towards nurturing habits of thoughtfulness and self-awareness.
There is a joke that a psychologist wife said to her psychologist husband: ‘don’t speak to me, my serotonin levels have hit bottom, my brain is awash glucocorticoids, my blood vessels are full of adrenalin, and if it was not for my endogenous opiates I’d have driven the car into a tree on the way home”. So, it maybe worth just reflecting on your mood. If you have eaten, that you are hydrated, don’t have a hanover or are making a decision after something traumatic has happened to you. But, if the rule is not to “dither” remember “none of the higher functions (of the brain) including retrieval of autobiographical memories, problem-solving, decision-making, why we sleep and dream,” have been adequately explained by science. So if you are on a even keel, trust your judgement.
Avoid being subsumed by what is known as “The Hamlet Doctrine” i.e. knowing too much and doing nothing. This is where the decision making process is overwhelmed by the feeling nothing is going to change so why try. Reflection and doubt are not the problem here but this perspective of the world is not good. This view is known as “quietisitic nihilism” and when it overwhelms it is important to remember that it is only one of many theories about the cosmos, and probably the least helpful when decisions have to be made.
All choices are made on the basis of imperfect knowledge and this causes anxiety. To avoid this anxiety it is possible to put absolute trust in other people or institutions and let them decide for you. This is extremely risky in this day and age and may provoke much greater anxiety.
“The most basic piece of wisdom about making good choices may simply be to remember that facts are indispensable, making decisions is inescapable, and we can never be infallible”.
( Source. Julian Baggini. “Multiple Choice”. p8. Financial Times 7/8/9/13).