Day 641: The Source of Your Choices

This is a side of decision making that I had not considered before, and from my experience with other people I do not think that many people do see this dimension. As usual, it seems strange that we would miss this dimension - as you will see in the post, it may be the difference between making a change in yourself or in your life or doing nothing.

There are generally two starting points that you could have when making a choice (let me make it clear that this is a generalisation and will not be the case in all people or scenarios):
  1. You are avoiding negative consequences: Let me use an example from Scott Geller's Talk above: You attend a class in college every week because you will fail if you don't.
  2. You are moving towards positive consequences: You are doing something because you see the value in doing it and know that you are capable of doing it. An example would be (again from Scott's Talk) a child practicing a musical instrument diligently because his/her parents told him/her that they will get a better version or piece of the instrument (a new and better snare drum for example) if he/she proves to them that he/she is developing his/her skill in playing the instrument. The child would then also be likely to want to read ahead of the current lesson - Scott calls this self-motivation. 
Most people do most things in order to avoid negative consequences. Get a job to avoid poverty. Go to class to avoid failure. Put on makeup to avoid ridicule. Do what other people do to avoid being an outcast. What tends to happen when you make your decisions from this starting point is that you do not feel like you really have a choice (even though you do - your experience is that you have no choice) and you feel powerless. This leads to a generally unpleasant experience and sense of yourself, as well as a rather pessimistic outlook.

Compare this to when you are working towards a positive consequence - a goal that you're excited about and something within which you see value, as well as the understanding of why you're doing it and the knowledge and skill to actually do it. When this is your starting point you feel powerful, in control and competent enough to achieve your goals. This is the starting point that increases the chances of your success.

So now most people's choices are based on a negative starting point, on trying to avoid some kind of negative experience - but most people don't realise this. This leads to a lot of people going through a lot of unpleasant feelings and experiences unnecessarily.  I say unnecessarily because it can be avoided simply by sharing and understanding this realisation. I propose that all schools should include things like this in their curricula for each and every child, so that every single person in the world knows the complete nature of their decision making as well as the extent to which certain factors can influence their experience of themselves as well as the outcome of their choices. This seems far more important to a developing human being than absorbing a whole lot of information, most of which they will soon forget and never use again.

I suggest that you look closely at the decisions you make. Look at why you're making that decision: are you trying to get away from a bad experience? If so then you know that you are setting yourself up for a hard time. I also propose that the idea that people need motivation in order to do something is also not the only, or even the best solution. Instead, we are entirely capable of Moving ourselves simply because we see what must be done, why it must be done and that we are able to do it. Self-Motivation can become a dependency just as easily as being motivated by outside sources: what happens when you don't experience that positive energy that psychs you up to do something? This is why I propose that we live without motivation - that we live independent of negative or positive energy/experiences. I also completely agree with Scott Geller that we must become interdependent and support each other and be humble with each other - we can become a true global family in this way.