We constantly make choices in our lives. As a matter of fact, it’s estimated by some that we make as many as 35,000 decisions a day which equates to a choice about every two seconds if we assume an average of seven hours of sleep a night. Wow! And, you want to know something else? Most of those choices are made without any conscious thinking on our part as we tend to operate on cruise control.
- Did you choose to jump out of bed this morning when the alarm went off or did you hit the snooze button?
- Did you purposefully choose to hit “snooze” or did you press it from habit?
- Did you take the time to weigh the benefits and consequences of your action, or did you simply take the action without thinking about it including any negative outcomes?
I can’t tell you the number of times in years past I automatically hit that snooze button several times which resulted in a stressed, hectic morning hastily getting showered and dressed, then rushing to work only to have my level of aggravation further increased due to slow moving traffic. And, as I sat there in that traffic watching minute after minute tick by on the clock knowing I would be late yet again, my annoyance with myself increased my personal stress level even more. What other results did I experience from being annoyed with myself? Oh, you know. Negative emotions like guilt and powerlessness with a little “I’m so disappointed with myself as I know better than this” sprinkled on top for good measure.
Daniel Kahneman, an Israeli-American psychologist notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, divides our internal thinking into two systems.
System 1 operates automatically and quickly with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. This type of thinking is nearly instantaneous and happens automatically generally without our awareness or, at best, with remote awareness. This is the type of thinking I used when I hit that snooze button.
System 2 is thinking that is more deliberate, logical, calculating and it engages conscious thought. With this type of thinking, I may have deliberately chosen to break the “snooze button” habit to provide myself with the benefits of enough time to leisurely wake up, have a cup of coffee or two, enjoy getting dressed and feel confident that I had allowed a sufficient amount of time for a normal commute which would get me to work relaxed, on time, and feeling pretty darn good about myself. Quite a contrast!
One aspect of Modern Consciousness™ is making thoughtful decisions that align with our intentions, values, and goals. The number of decisions we make every minute of every day creates consequences in our lives.
Are you fueling your highest and best self with your choices?
Are you making decisions that support your overall objectives?
Are you making choices that don’t support your best self?
The results of our 35,000 daily decisions accumulate into an outcome. They are bits and pieces that weave together to form the overall tapestry of our lives. Are the results of your choices serving you well and in alignment with your goals? Or are they moving your further away from inner harmony? For example, is reaching for that second piece of chocolate even though the first piece satisfied your craving supporting an outcome you desire?
Don’t live life on “snooze.” Bring the choices you are making into your conscious awareness. Ignoring them and operating on autopilot is effectively hitting the “snooze button” on areas of your life that you may wish to change. Don’t drift through life ignoring your deepest desires. Choose to Elevate Your Life™ through intentional decisions.
How do you do things?
Do you choose the easy way or the hard way?
Are you stuck in your old ways or trying new ways?
Are your choices guiding you on a forward path toward achieving happiness or do you feel you are heading the “wrong” way?
Our daily decisions accumulate to create a huge impact in our lives. Some estimate that we make 35,000 decisions a day. Our decisions range from what color lipstick to wear today to the people we allow to influence us. And while our lipstick color has no significant impact on our lives, other decisions, as you well know, profoundly affect us.
Let’s look at one perspective on the choices we make by asking this question…
What are you tolerating in your life?
The definition of tolerating is to “allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of something that one does not necessarily like or agree with without interference.” Impactful when you think of it in those terms, huh? Allowing it means that we are choosing it, whether consciously or not.
I invite you to find some quiet time and give some thought to what you are currently tolerating in your life. Whether it’s the kids’ messy room, a relationship conflict, an unfinished task, or a workplace that you hate, make a list. Then, carry a journal with you for the next few days and give some thought throughout your day as to how you are feeling. Just jot it down. This will bring situations or emotions ― yes, we endure feelings we prefer not to be experiencing ― that you may be tolerating into your awareness. Once we are aware of them, we can begin the work of investigating them!
Once you’ve got your list, here are some questions you can ask yourself about what you are tolerating.
- How does this situation make me feel?
- Why does it make me feel this way? A tip here is to keep asking why until you get to the “why” that makes you feel emotional. That’s the real why. The root cause.
- How is this serving me? This is a tricky one as we need to really look deeply into ourselves to find the answer. Often, we are unaware that the situation is benefitting us in some way (for example, perhaps the situation is allowing you to anchor a belief you hold that may or may not be serving you well).
- What happens if I continue to tolerate this situation? List the best and worst outcomes.
- What happens if I choose to stop tolerating this situation? Again, list the best and the worst.
- What steps can I take to change this situation?
- What does successful change look like in this situation?
- How will this change affect others? Again, list the positives and negatives.
- What is my timeframe for making this change?
On a final note, not everything you are tolerating needs to be changed. Make sure you know the difference between healthy tolerance that fosters relationships (including with yourself) and the unhealthy need to exert control over everything in your life. Tolerance is, after all, a virtue and it’s the virtue that makes peace possible in our external and internal lives.
Elevate Your Life!™
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