Making Choices

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As a reasonably pure Zen practitioner I’m now fairly resistant to Bibles, Korans, Sayings of the Buddha, self-help books other than pure business tips. In fact I’m quite averse to the giving of and taking of advice generally. Giving advice reminds me rather of making excuses. Both traits are a pit you dig yourself and into which you can easily tumble and like a Lamborghini trouble is a lot easier to get into than to get out of.

However, there is one guy who has always talked quite a lot of good sense to me. Deepack Chopra, and in particular his Seven Spiritual Laws of Success talks about staying attentive but detached. He talks about communing with nature and about how you should give freely of any wealth or time that you have on your hands. These are good tips. The one part of his philosophy which fascinates me is about making Choices. There are two parts to his angle.

The first part which I absolutely endorse is that once you have made your choice, then be happy with the result, whatever happens. This does seem to me absolutely the right approach and probably not the reaction most of us would give to a bad result. It’s a much higher version of the adage ‘take responsibility for your actions’ and I like it a lot.

The second part is harder….something in my instinct tells me he’s right but…here we go...

‘Think about the options and make the choice which makes everyone happy. There WILL be one.’

90 percent of the time this is true, particularly if you really do the thinking through part rigorously.

But there have been moments in my life where there just does not seem to be any one choice which will make everyone happy…but then….

I realise that what we have to do here is to think about what ‘happy’ means. If Fred leaves Sophie then Sophie will not be happy. But maybe Sophie COULD be happy if she thought about things differently and particularly if she realised that happiness is a passing moment and that suffering is not only normal, it is what gives life meaning. Sophie thinks she is unhappy but if we talk to her about the flood victims in Japan or the serially raped children in the refugee camps in Tchad, perhaps she will change her view of her own happiness quotient?

So perhaps after all, we can indeed always make the choice which will make everyone happy, provided we add the word should.

‘Make the choice that should make everyone happy

Off to South America for a month tonight. Lovely.