Mar 212008

One thing that continually amazes me is that if I go back and read through Steve Pavlina’s archives, I will come across something and it will have a different meaning to me than it did the first time. A lot of times, randomly browsing through his archives will bring me to solutions to problems I’m having or great insight into things I’m thinking about. For example, I’ve been thinking about decisiveness and commitment lately and he answers the issue, in his article named “Making Decisions That Stick“. It was written some two years ago yet it is more relevant to me today than when I first read it.

My hidden assumption was that the right choice was whichever one made me happiest. I could figure out how each decision would affect the various metrics of my life (money, health, etc.), but ultimately my personal choices were a matter of optimizing my happiness.

And that was the trap. I assumed that my outcomes in life were the source of my happiness, and that was a big mistake. That’s why this process failed me so completely. There is no correct decision if I use happiness as the criteria. And that’s because once you reach a certain level of conscious development, you gradually de-couple your happiness from external events. You loosen your attachment to circumstances and learn to feel good regardless of what happens. So instead of getting happiness from circumstances, you bring happiness to circumstances.

Another part of the trap is that I assumed that if I made a suboptimal choice, it would doom me to a lower level of happiness than if I’d made the right choice. That’s a very disempowering belief.

There really is no wrong path, no fatal decision that will totally disempower you. You can always choose again. In practical terms this means that you can quit your job to start your own business, and if you don’t like it, you can find a new job, maybe even return to your old job. You can try a new diet and then switch back to your old way of eating. You can move to a new city and then move back to your old one…The truth is that many life decisions have an undo button.

[Beware of consistency or a desire to appear to be “right”. Being right isn’t the point. The point is:]

Instead of asking questions like, “What should I do?” or “What’s the right decision?” consider asking, “What do I want to experience now?”

What do I want to experience now? Wow. I’ve generally considered the experience as one of the criteria to measure a decision by, but basing your whole decision largely on what you want to experience is amazing.

Consider the difference between these pairs of questions:

  • Should I quit my job? -> Would I like to experience another job?
  • Should I start my own business? -> Would I like to have the experience of running a business?
  • Should I stay with my current relationship partner? -> Would I like to continue experiencing this relationship?
  • Should I exercise? -> Would I like to experience a different level of physical activity?
  • Should I earn more money? -> Would I like to experience greater financial abundance?

Don’t fall into the trap of attachment to outcomes. Your life is what you are experiencing right now; it isn’t a mere chain of one-time outcomes. When you focus on attracting desirable experiences, the outcomes will take care of themselves, since outcomes are a part of experience anyway.

I highly suggest reading this post here. I’m sorry for the quotation-link post, but I feel this is important enough to highlight. Enjoy!

BTW, another way to think of the question of what you want to be, do or have in life is through this lens. For example, for a career, you want to experience happiness, joy and challenge every day of your career. You want to experience feeling like you’re doing something of value to other people, etc.

  2 Responses to “Got me again!”

  1. I agree, Steve’s archives are awesome! Every once in a while I’ll browse through to see what jewels I can find.

  2. […] go by how I feel inside, and sometimes something will really resonate with me. Like my recent post: Got me again! As another example, while reading “Is Becoming Wealthy Inherently Evil?” This sentence […]

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