We are constantly faced with the need to make choices throughout our lives. There are life-altering decisions like choice of a future profession, educational institution, place of work, career direction, or a life partner; as well as “no-brainers”: buying this or that thing, choosing your style, places where to spend your leisure time, food to eat, etc. At the same time, we do not always make decisions vital for our lives. Is it sensible to be conscious of trifles and consciously learn to choose?
Decisions in our life
Each of us tries to accept important decisions as meaningful as possible. We analyze all possible alternatives, consider the course of events with each option, assume the consequences. However, we often make minor decisions almost unconsciously. By and large, our whole life consists of trifles, which, repeating every day, grow to the scale of life. If we repeat one choice repeatedly, then it becomes a habit. As the wise folk proverb says: “a habit is second nature”.
Factors that influence our decision-making process.
If one uses an unconscious approach during the decision-making process, certain factors influence it. This approach imposes specific desires, lifestyles, stereotypes of thought, and behavior.
- Advertisement. The advertisement constantly confronts us wherever we go and whatever we do. It is everywhere on the internet, TV shows, cinema, and streets.
- Fashion. Leading brands dictate trends, which implies a choice in favor of some things, services, actions, or behaviors.
- Status. Many people live with the imposed idea that it is necessary to correspond to a specific social class, which also determines their choice.
- Opinion of friends. We strive to form an opinion about ourselves among acquaintances. And our desire to conform to one or another image also imposes a scope on our choice.
How do inflicted desires affect our lives?
Inflicted desires mislead us and divert us from understanding what we really want. We might be affected by those inflicted desires and make decisions that would cause disappointment or adversely affect our lives. Moreover, buying things unconsciously and overconsuming wastes our inner resources. There is nothing permanent in the material world. The pleasure of acquiring something is temporal. That’s why when joy fades we strive to get pleasure again by satisfying our next wish. Thus, a series of “empty” and unnecessary desires arise, which replace one another at cosmic speed.
How to get rid of inflicted desires?
- Learn to filter out the information coming to us.
We can easily discard all sorts of useless information. For example, we can block ads in the Internet browser, refuse to watch ads on TV or even stop watching TV at all, ignore or reject viewing advertisements that come in mail or e-mail, and learn to pay less attention to visual street advertising. Everyone should analyze their lives and choose a suitable way to avoid inappropriate information.
- Be honest with yourself.
Before making up your mind when you are about to make a purchase, you should ask yourself, “Why do I want to buy this stuff? Do I really need this item? Will that change my life for the better? We should answer these questions truthfully. If we are honest with ourselves, many of our spontaneous desires will render themselves useless and inappropriate.
- It would be best to pause between the moment when a desire emerges and when you decide to go for it.
It will help make a more conscious choice if you hold off on immediate decision-making. We should make it a habit to take at least a one-day break before buying everyday items. We will be surprised how an urge to buy something will weaken or even disappear the next day. The pause is even more significant if the desire arises when we are enthusiastic or depressed. In such cases, we have to pull ourselves together; postpone fulfilling our desires until we can soberly and calmly assess the situation and analyze whether we truly need an object of our choice.
- Make use of ascetic practices.
We pull ourselves together and set a milestone: no purchases for a month. We do not buy extra things during the mentioned period, even if it is tempting. The intended goals have to be achievable. If we like shopping a lot and tend to constantly and impulsively buy things, we should not promptly put ourselves on an extended no shopping spree. It is essential to follow a principle of “noted-done”. It is better to start with smaller goals that are easier to achieve. Because every fulfilled promise, no matter how small it is, brings us closer to reaching the set goals. Even a prominent vow if unfinished is an absolute failure and a waste of our precious time.
- Make use of the decision-making Algorithm.
Open Yoga School has a wonderful tool, the decision-making Algorithm. It is a step-by-step analysis executed before making one decision or another. This analysis helps us make an effective decision in an ambiguous situation, and relying on the mind reduces excessive emotionality in the decision-making process. The result should be either acceptance or rejection of the selected decision. The Algorithm is the following:
- We are mindful that inherently we are absolutely free, and we can accept or reject any decision.
- We are mindful that we have a Duty. The concept of Duty for each person is very individual and implies our personal direct and indirect obligations to this situation. We check that our choice will not result in a violation of our Duty.
- Does our choice conform to the First Principle of Yoga, the principle of Kindness? It states: “We should do all it takes not to harm a single living being unless it is an absolute necessity. If it is not possible, we have to act as our Duty tells us.”
- Does our choice conform to the Second Principle of Yoga, the principle of Logic? It calls us “not to waste our energy and not get involved in activities that lead us away from achieving set goals.”
- If we accept the Third Principle of Yoga, we will need to check our decision whether it complies with it too. It states: “We try to help all living beings overcome suffering if they express their will to accept our help and if it is in our power to help them. At the same time, we get rid of suffering within ourselves.”
- If we still cannot decide, we ask for advice from someone who has authority in the field in question. If it is reasonable in this situation, we can appeal to the majority’s opinion as a last resort.
- We are again mindful that we are absolutely free and have the freedom to accept any decision or reject it.
Many factors in our lives can limit our freedom and impose unnecessary desires, depriving us of strength for what really matters. Suppose we filter incoming information, are honest with ourselves in the decision-making process, apply asceticism if necessary, and use the decision-making Algorithm. In that case, we will be able to make a conscious decision and gain even more freedom.
Be at liberty of your choice!
Editor: Evgenia Agni, Volyevskaya Julia, Eva Rati, Olga Belous, Mirra
Translator: Ekaterina Spiridonova, Sasha Svarodzic
Project curator: Kerigona