by Linda Anderson Krech

Over the course of a day, we supposedly make about 35,000 conscious decisions, most of which are made intuitively.  Think about the incredible potential for personal growth if we bring awareness to even a tiny fraction of those decisions.  Consider all of the exercise we can bring to our purposeful muscles if we are conscious of these opportunities all through the day.

For example, let’s think about the decisions involved in simply creating and accomplishing a daily to-do list.  First we must decide what items to include on the list, and then on their order of priority..  We can number them, right from the start, or we can pick and choose randomly, as we go down the list.

But either way, we’re likely to have a more negative reaction to some items than to others.  Maybe we don’t know how to address a particular problem, how to begin, or what to say, or who to contact.  Or maybe we know exactly what to do, and we simply dread doing it.

If we have a negative response to a particular task, it is easy to just push it aside and find something else that is simpler and easier to do, something that appeals to us more and that we are confident about.  Just for the moment, of course.  But if this is our modus operandi, that task may sit on our list for a long time.  Most of us are familiar with this experience.  Not only can this avoidance cause trouble to others, it is also demoralizing.  It’s a lose lose.

How ironic that a decision made in an effort to avoid uncomfortable feelings creates such discomfort in the long run. If anxiety jumps behind the wheel and drives you to a movie, when you really need to write a report, your relief will be short-lived, but your confidence will be damaged.  Aside from momentary relief, our “feeling-centered” decisions aren’t likely to make us feel very good at all.  

Morita Therapy encourages a practice of “coexisting” with feelings, while making purposeful choices.  Rather than giving power to your fears and anxieties, give power to your behavior.  Elevate the importance of what you do, while taking your feelings along for the ride. Direct your attention and effort to what you are doing, and how you are doing it.  Though you may not enjoy the anxiety you experience in the process, you are very likely to feel proud of yourself once you have completed your task or accomplished your goal.  That reward will be waiting for you at the end, if you coexist with your aversions along the way.

After 70 years, I still need practice with this, but there’s no question that my purposeful muscles are much more developed than they used to be.  Had I already been good at living with purpose, appreciation, attention, and constructive action, I may not have gravitated to Japanese Psychology in the first place, and would not have met Gregg, worked for ToDo, or had a connection with you.  So it’s thanks to my limitations, and maybe yours, that we are seeking wisdom and camaraderie together during our 30,000 day journey.  

Here’s to making five deliberate and purposeful decisions tomorrow out of the 35,000 opportunities we’ll have.  What’s at the top of your list?




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