How do we handle helping someone who makes decisions that we wouldn't make for ourselves? What if our loved ones choose things for their lives that we wouldn't have chosen for ours?
Aren't we all just trying to make decisions that will make us happy?
In today's episode, Tina looks at what it takes to make decisions that allow us to be at peace with them. She discusses a formula for decision making that puts our truth in line with our values and ends up in HAPPINESS with our choices. Listen as she lays out the steps, as well as their importance for letting others make their own decisions, in their truths, values, and happiness too.
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We meet with people every day, many of them needing to make difficult decisions. And they ask us what they should do. But we can’t answer that. I mean we could, but ethically, we really shouldn’t. Because we are not living their life, having their experiences, or facing the consequences of those decisions. We wouldn’t be making those decisions from the same past experiences with the same perspective, wisdom, knowledge, or understanding as they have – about their life, the people around them, or the world they live in. So, what are they to do? How do they know what decision to make?
Now let’s flip the tables here a bit and say that I am, still the worker, the counsellor, and I am hearing my client settle on a decision that I wouldn’t have made. They are making choices in their life that I just wouldn’t have chosen for myself.
What about our adult kids? Deciding on things in their lives that we had hoped they wouldn’t have. Or living a lifestyle we were afraid they might accept for themselves. What then?
At the end of the day, isn’t it true that we are all just trying to do our best to live the life that will make us happy? Or at least offer us some peace?
Dr. Bashir Jiwani has a formula where he says that happiness and integrity require skills of critical thinking and pluralism. Essentially, Happiness = Integrity = Critical Thinking + Pluralism.
So here we are every day, in one way or another, trying to make decisions that will in the end, make us happy, bring some peace, ease a problem, or prevent one.
So, if we can agree or in the least entertain Dr. Bashir’s theory of happiness, we need to make decisions out of integrity, using critical thinking and pluralism. Let’s look closer at all this.
Integrity first of all, has been explained as doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. But here is the tricky part here… and my grey is going to shine here. Can you have neon grey? I think I glow neon grey.
Anyways, “the right thing” … my response to that is “according to who?” Because the “right” thing may look different to many of us.
So, let’s instead here, without going into a debate on who gets to decide what the right thing is… let’s say that integrity is walking your talk. It is being honest about what you say you are all about, and backing it up through your actions, in the way you live.
Integrity is linked to our peace and our happiness because it is us living out our authentic selves. It is living our truth. And there is a natural calming that happens when we are in our truth.
Spencer Johnson says “Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people”.
And Gandhi said “Happiness is when what you think and what you say and what you do are in harmony.
So, it really does seem like happiness is linked to our integrity. And to have integrity, we need to be honest about our truths, and line that up with critical thinking and pluralism.
So, if we have a decision or a choice to make, we are going to want to make the one that has the best likelihood to bring happiness. Now we know to be happy, we need to walk in our truth to do it… We need to honestly look at the situation and we need to do it with critical thinking.
Critical thinking is the skill of being able to first identify the problem or issue that needs attention. We could start guessing at possible options, but that’s not enough to just go and pick one. Because we really need to collect as much information as possible first.
Often, just in casual conversation, I’ll be asked what I think a bout a specific topic. And often, my answer is that I don’t have enough information to have an opinion on that topic.
And yes, that answer is born largely out of a grey mentality, but it is also because formulation of an opinion, which is making a decision about how I think or feel about the topic, requires critical thinking. And that takes me needing lots of information to know as much as I can in all regards of the subject, before deciding how I think or feel about it.
If I am to gather more facts, I would then need to sort through my findings on them. Once I formulate a decision, I then analyze that. I want to make sure I am comfortable with it, and that it lines up with my truth, or who I say I am. Lining a decision up with my truths means that it also needs to align with my values – what I have decided is right for me. See, how that decision comes back around to my integrity.
And happiness? Well, if I find that my decision lines up with my truth, and I feel a peace and a calm with what I have decided, then I’m going to be happy with that decision then, aren’t I?
And what if I’m not? Well, then, perhaps I need to re-evaluate. That is also part of critical thinking. In a nutshell, critical thinking is to gather, analyze, assess, and reconstruct. Or, to really look at an issue with all the facts possible, make a decision based on those facts, look at your decision and see if it lines up with your truth, and then act on your decision. Or put it into play.
It is often within this critical thinking piece, especially when working with a team at work, or a partner, or within a family, that we see conflict. And we can sometimes take this conflict personally. It can feel personal. We say things like I’m not feeling heard. I don’t feel like you’re trying to see it from my side, or I feel like I’m being attacked.
What we are really saying is I don’t think my truth is being honored or taken into consideration. I feel like my truth is being threatened. And it takes real skill to be able to maneuver through compromise when your truth is at stake. It takes critical thinking to know what we are willing to compromise on and what we are not. It will actually take really knowing our truth, to know what we are willing to do when we are disagreeing. We will need to know what is most important to us, personally in order to move forward towards resolution and settlement.
And this is where pluralism comes in. If pluralism is part of our equation to make decisions that produce peace and happiness and honor our integrity, then we are sure to see success in achieving this goal.
And I’m talking about pluralism in this way… of understanding that my norm, my values, the decisions that I would make for me, and the values that I hold in my integral critical thinking, may be very different from yours. But our difference doesn’t have to put either of us in a space of deciding right or wrong. We can co-exist in one space, with what others would see as conflict, and just call it respectful differences.
And perhaps you listened to that and said well, that sounds like diversity. Very close to it. Diversity is about difference and including the differences. Pluralism takes it a step further in saying the differences shall be included… and that is not just about tolerance or inclusion. It’s inclusion because there is value and benefit in having the additional thoughts, feelings, perspective, values, traditions, teachings, etc., beyond what I know to be my norms.
See what I mean. It’s having a society with many cultures and these cultures keeping their traditions. Not because they are allowed to. But because there is value and benefit. Because they are important. Because they are someone’s norm, they are someone’s truth, and that deserves to be. It may be different from what I know. But different is not wrong.
As counselors, we all have our own moral values, ideologies, and reasons for making the decisions we would make. Just like the rest of the world. But we are not there to impose them. We are there to help you understand yours and help you make decisions based on yours.
As parents, we model ours, but then in time, watch to see how our children develop in their own. Along the way, we hope to also teach them critical thinking skills, so that they can partner them with their truths of who they are, and make decisions in their lives, that will bring them happiness. And sometimes the hardest thing we will do, is let them have their own happiness and truth, even if it looks different from ours.
There is a proverb that states “a wise man never knows all; only a fool knows everything.” Regardless of how worldly, educated, or well-traveled we are, we can never know everything. But by recognizing our own biases and accepting that we can learn from others, we establish the groundwork for growth and promote the cultivation of independent and analytical thoughts. Opening ourselves to learning from other’s perspectives is the very foundation for developing more comprehensive views of the world around us and is pivotal for embracing the philosophy of pluralism.
And if we can teach our children pluralism in this understanding that others do not have to look like us, act like us, believe like us or make the decisions that we would make, to be right, for their peace and happiness, what a world we could create.
The world really would be happier, wouldn’t it? If we could tell ourselves the truth and walk in it… while still being able to gather all the information we can to make decisions that line up with our truth. And in that realizes that we are telling ourselves the truth, based on what we know. But we could always learn more from others. And how precious it is to learn from people who don’t necessarily look like me, or think like me, or believe like me, or have had the same experiences.
Other people will be different. Think differently. Feel, learn, share, speak, love, work, look all differently. But that’s not wrong.
That’s opportunity to learn. Grow. Develop.
In the end I will still have to make the decision that I think is the best for me. Based on my truth. But my truth and all the information I have gathered will be richer. I can make better decisions. I will have a more solid truth.
And all this is the end, will make me happier.
I want all the happiness for you too that you can gather and hold on to and enjoy. You deserve it.
Until next time… good-bye for now and we’ll speak again soon.