We as a society are quite the mindful fellowship aren’t we? When given a moment’s contemplation we are able to formulate quick judgements, a fast analysis or an opinion that will likely be the dominant perspective within our minds unless we are effectively convinced otherwise. We see people in the street and we can formulate an opinion like that *clicks fingers dramatically*, whether it is a positive or a negative one.
We all make snap judgements about people and places based on the information that passes through our minds at that particular time or in many cases without giving any thought toward whether we are coming to the right conclusions. This person receiving benefits hasn’t tried to get a job in years so they must be scamming the system because they are too lazy to work? That person is in jail so it must mean he/she did something terrible to someone? Maybe they’re a murderer or a rapist? I just passed a person in the street that was eyeballing me something fierce and swore at me for no reason so they must have some sort of problem with me?
What if the person receiving benefits is genuinely ill and incapable of leaving the front door because of a crippling mental condition? What if that criminal is in jail for defending themselves and a tragic accident resulted in the death of the attacker but the evidence could not support this claim? What if the angry fellow had just lost his job because of circumstances beyond his control and is now scared for his future and angry that he cannot do anything about it yet? You just happened to be in the vicinity of his rage as he muttered profanities to himself, so angry with his situation was he that could not contain his feelings.
My own point of view is simply this: what if we are wrong? What if the few seconds of information we gleaned from a situation has been incontrovertibly manipulated into a false or unrealistic perspective because we lacked the foresight to stop in the moment and think logically? Why do we trust our split second judgement so completely and not think that hey, what if I am coming to the completely wrong conclusion here?
Some people might call this instinct, a primal guide within our minds leading us to quick judgements so that we can act accordingly at any given time. If someone is trying to cleave off your skull with a circular saw because you forgot to offer them one of your Haribo sweeties, then generally you don’t need much time to figure out that you probably shouldn’t be standing still for too long. But has instinct become pointless? We no longer live in an age where our very survival is at stake all the time yet we still perceive threats where there are none because instinct tells us there may well be one. Perhaps an additional few seconds to give thought to any situation will provide the benefit of applying logical thinking as well as taking from our own experience to make a more sensible decision? Perhaps if we realise that the circular saw has a limited length of cord, we can take a few steps back and watch as the fellow succumbing to his unnecessary rage will most likely also be the architect of his own downfall.
So basically has instinct become an outdated form of decision making and should we possibly train our minds to think just a few seconds longer? Not everyone has the benefit of knowledge and experience to draw from to help make their decisions and so these folk tend to rely more on instinct. Have you ever seen a toddler try to deal with a locked door for the first time? Instinct probably tells them that the mommy/daddy food dispensaries are on the other side and so making loud noises or banging until said food is being consumed is usually the manner in which they proceed. An adult will approach the door with more thought. Do I need to get in? Where is the key? If I shove my little finger into the lock and wiggle it around, will it hurt? Experience begets informative decision making.
I have heard that we tend to only form questions in our minds that we wish to hear the answers to. So this probably means that without consciously realising it, we are already trying to twist a situation to suit us and how we think we should feel about it.
Our minds and how we think are surprisingly open to suggestion and can be more easily manipulated than we are usually willing to admit. I hear people complaining about all manner of things on a daily basis and these complaints are usually daft and very minor to the point where they will likely be forgotten by the time the day has ended. My thought toward this is would we be capable of better decision making if we were able to change our perspective to a more positive thinking one? Would we make better decisions in the moment if we didn’t allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity and our constant need to moan and begrudge the slightest things? Do we make bad decisions because we are feeling bad at the time?
I am not saying we should all start skipping around merrily all the time. Constantly chirpy and unrealistically positive people who have no problem dancing at a funeral can be annoying and creepy if their only facial expression is to smile from ear to ear like a clown on crack. Sometimes something so bad will happen that will undoubtedly cause any given person great stress or pain. But if our instincts were to generally come from a more positive mind-set, would our outlook and thus our decisions also generally become more positive as well?
Why should we be thinking to ourselves we shouldn’t be doing this or why the bloody hell should I try to so that? I say why not? If you question your decisions for even a few seconds then you will likely give yourselves more options to contend with. And more options are usually always a good thing.
So what’s the right answer for making sound judgements on a day to day basis? Well unfortunately there does not seem to be one, there is no quick fix to fast track you onto the road to progress, success and ultimate contentment and peace of mind. But the mere fact that you might be willing to stop and think a little more in the moment is a good start I feel. We all make the mistake of thinking that everyone is out to get us when we are in a bad mood, myself most definitely included, but logically this notion is absurd and I think that if we realise that we don’t need to act or draw fast conclusions in the moment then that can be nothing but good. Unless you have pissed off someone holding a circular saw as stated above, then you should probably follow your instinct to bugger off. But that is just common sense.
It has also been proven that we have a tendency to alter our memories to be more positive or more negative than they actually were to suit how we truly feel about what happened. This is where the phrase rose-tinted glasses comes from as our nostalgia can have a powerful influence on how we feel about something positive from our past. One might argue that in this case, such positivity is a good thing but if that positive outlook means that we end up making a bad decision in the present, then that means we have likely lost our objective perspective. Listen to a conversation between Liverpool and Manchester United fans arguing about their past glories and you will have some idea of what I mean. So perhaps too much contemplation might not be the best solution either. We have all heard the phrase ‘Don’t over think it.’ This is something that I am guilty of, I have a tendency to over analyse a situation to the point where every now and then all I am doing is pointlessly ruminating, thinking of all the possible things that could or already have gone wrong. And for most circumstances, this is a waste of time and energy.
To sum up, I am not really trying to convince you that every decision you have ever made is wrong. This is simply my own humble perspective on the matter. I am merely proposing that it would not be a bad idea to consider the fact that your momentary judgement might not be correct at a particular given time every now and then. Nobody is capable of flawless decision making but maybe the world isn’t out to get you even though you might feel otherwise? Maybe now and then we just need to stop and ask ‘What If?’ This is one of the primary differences between how a child acts and how an adult makes decisions.
Take care of yourselves folks.
Forged From Reverie.
Cover photograph provided by Anthony Nicholas.