The Life Changing Decisions You Make Every Single Day
We pay a lot of attention to the big decisions in life: what to study, where to live, what to do for a living. Whether to marry, and to whom. To breed or not to breed. To stay in a job or leave for another. To stay in a relationship or find somebody new.
Whether we ponder over them for months or make up our minds in an instant, we think about the BIG decisions as the essential choices – the ones on which our happiness will forever depend.
But we’re wrong.
As important as the big decisions may seem, they don’t really make much difference to the quality of our lives. They might have a huge impact on the circumstances in which we find ourselves – but they’re not the ones that determine how we experience the world.
Instead, the choices we make on a daily basis – in fact, thousands of times each day – shape the quality of our lives, no matter what our circumstances may be.
We make life changing decisions every single day, without even realising it.
In every moment of every day, we make three critical choices that shape our experience.
First, we decide where to put our FOCUS.
Do we engage with the people around us or stare into our phones? Do we tackle work we need to do or waste time on Facebook? Do we pay attention to things that make us feel capable, confident and strong, or do we dwell on the stuff that makes us miserable?
Most importantly, do we focus on things outside of our control or within it? Or do we focus instead on things that are actually within our scope of influence? When we focus on things we can’t do anything about, we load ourselves with worry, fear and stress.
Our attention is ours to bestow upon anything we choose. Our choices have both immediate and lasting consequences for our mental and emotional state. Choose consciously.
Next, once we’ve focused on something, we decide what it MEANS.
We’re storytelling animals: we create explanations for everything. And our explanations shape our response. If we decide that someone’s behaviour toward us is because they’re a bad person, we respond differently than if we decide it’s because they’re in pain. For example, if we’re assigned a task, that can either mean that we can be trusted with responsibility or that we’ve been stuck with stuff our lazy shitheel boss doesn’t want to do.
The story we tell ourselves changes how we feel.
Finally, once we’ve given meaning to what we’ve paid attention to, we decide what to DO.
Our approach to a task will be entirely different if we’ve decided it’s an opportunity or a chore. Our approach to our colleague will be entirely different if we’ve decided if we’ve decided he’s results-driven or a selfish bastard. Our approach to our friends, our partners and our children will depend on the meanings we give them.
So, yeah, the big decisions matter, and you want to make them with care. But the real difference in the quality of life comes down to the little decisions you make in every moment.