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  • Writer's pictureGabriel Roy-Wright

Decision Making & Happiness

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

Decisions can be hard! Changing something in your life and debating how to go about it?

When we first start to explore new options it can sometimes seem overwhelming. Thinking of a new job, exploring new approaches to parenting, moving to a new town, cutting ties with an unhealthy friend, attending couples therapy? All these life altering decisions can seem huge and insurmountable.

We are unfortunately quite bad at predicting what will make us happy. We tend to focus on immediate security and control at the expense of long-term enrichment.

Our brains struggle to forecast and predict the future. Our prefrontal cortex, the planner and logical thinker of our brain is good at computation and problem solving but needs the help of our emotional reasoning system (the limbic system) when making big decisions. Combining these two systems is the key to choosing our path forward.

The trick we need to use is a simple phrase. Rather than what we are used to: “Will this make me happy?” We should use the question: “Will this choice enlarge or diminish me?”

Choose enlargement over diminishment. Yes. Enlargement may feel difficult, scary, or painful but ultimately the growing pains of enlargement can give rise to expansion, accomplishment, and fulfillment. Paradoxically, diminishment often leads to regret, anxiety, and depression – the very things we are seeking to avoid in trying to make ourselves happy through comfort.

If you are struggling with difficult decisions it can help to speak with a trained counsellor and explore or get some clarity around your issue. I invite you to call the office at 250-362-5035 or book online here.

Adapted from James Hollis via Oliver Burkeman

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