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Decisions, decisions

By Mike Ruffin Researchers estimate that a person makes about 35,000 decisions each day. No, I don’t know how they arrived at that number. I do know that I just made a quick decision not to spend any time trying to find out. Yes, I think that number is too high. I mean, it must be, right? But I don’t have enough information to make a decision on the figure’s accuracy. It just feels high to me. But we never make decisions based on our feelings rather than on facts, do we? Of course, we make many decisions without giving them any thought. For example, I just decided to rub my chin thoughtfully. Ironically, I did so without thinking about it. On one hand, such decisions usually don’t matter, so it usually doesn’t matter that we don’t think about them. On the other hand, you never know how differently things might have gone had you turned left instead of right as you drove out of the grocery store parking lot last Friday or had you left work at 5:32 rather than at 5:34 on that rainy Tuesday fourteen years ago. Still, it seems to me that we too often make big decisions without thinking about them. Sometimes it can’t be helped. Situations can develop quickly or unexpectedly that require us to make a split-second decision. We can all think of obvious examples. If someone suddenly stops their car right in front of you, you’re going to stomp on your brake pedal without thinking about it. Or maybe that’s not as much of a split-second decision as it seems. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that your split-second decision is the end result of a lifetime of driving experience (not to mention a lifetime of practicing self-preservation). Now that I think about it, I wonder if a lot of the decisions that we seem to make without thinking are actually the culmination of a lifetime of thinking, considering, experiencing, and reacting. Maybe we should keep that in mind when have a ‘the right response to that is so obvious, I don’t even have to think about it’ moment. Maybe we should remember that it is the sum total of our experiences that make that ‘right’ response seem so obviously ‘right’ to us. Maybe we should consider that our experiences can sometimes affect our thinking and responding in less than healthy ways. Certainly we should remember that not everyone has had experiences that lead them to have the same response that we have. Maybe we should consider the possibility that we might be wrong’”or at least not totally right. We can’t go back and change our lives. We can’t change our experiences. But we can reflect on why we react to events and occurrences as we do. And we can commit to paying more attention to our lives from this moment forward. We can work on having our character be formed by principles and commitments that will cause us to have split-second reactions that are worthy expressions of a life committed to’”dare I suggest the possibility’”love.

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