How to make the right choice?

At every moment of life, we are faced with a situation of choice, and the cumulative effect of these decisions is of equal, if not greater, importance than the effect of global decisions.

Give in to anger or take a step back?

Crimes in the heat of passion are a common thing. We have all heard of sudden outbursts of aggression in “normal”-looking people, when they suddenly lose control of themselves, go crazy under the influence of emotions, and then deeply regret it. Thank God, in most cases we can harness the power of our emotions, do not succumb to them and do not kill the people we want to kill. However, most of us are guilty of many less visible crimes of this kind. We raise our voices at children for being too slow to get to school, we explode at the annoyed tone of a letter from a rude customer, we yell at the driver who cut us off on the road. As soon as the heartbeat accelerates, you just need to take a step back or count to ten (sometimes up to a hundred). At every moment, we have a choice - to be a slave to our emotions and lose our temper, or to take a step back, take a time out and practice being restrained.

Psychologist George Loewenstein conducted research on "hot" and "cold" emotional states. The "hot" state is characterized by an intense intensity of emotions, we feel a strong need to do something or not to do something. In the "cold" state, the intensity of emotions is low and reason dominates in decision making. Depending on our emotional state, we think very differently - and often act. Each of us at least once in our lives would like to take and replay everything that was said or done. So, a study conducted by Daniel Gilbert showed that if a person goes shopping on an empty stomach, he will buy more than if he had eaten a hearty meal before. Hungry shoppers overestimate the amount of food they want to eat because they are in a “hot” state. And if shopping on an empty stomach is relatively harmless, then other decisions made in a “hot” state can have very unfortunate consequences. Anger at the wheel is a typical example of how dangerous it is to act on a hot head. Another example is teenagers who often have unprotected sex at the peak of their emotions, even if they are well aware of all the health risks.

The mere awareness that a given situation may cause an unwanted outburst of emotions helps to cope with it. Having identified this risk for ourselves, we no longer get involved in what is happening and do not react thoughtlessly to circumstances. We get the opportunity to take a step back and look at what is happening from the outside. Involvement in your emotional state helps you take a breather and “cool down” when rage rolls up your throat.

Stepping on the same rake or thinking and acting intelligently?

Often, when faced with a problem, we start to endlessly “chew” it in our head, playing and replaying the same scenario. We tend to believe that thinking about what happened will help us overcome discomfort, but in fact, mentally replaying the situation only makes matters worse. According to psychologist Mark Williams, “thinking in vain is part of the problem, not part of the solution.” On the other hand, mindful thinking - writing in a diary or speaking out thoughts - is a much better way to deal with psychological and emotional difficulties. Meaningful action - that is, action that makes you feel better - is much more effective than the chaos in your head, which, as a rule, only intensifies negativity.

Imagine that you are going through a difficult period at work. You can't stop worrying about the upcoming deadline and strained relationship with your boss. You replay the last conversation in your head, when your boss accused you of missing deadlines on an important project and refused to listen to your explanations, despite the fact that the reason is not actually you, but just the changes he recently introduced. You are sure that the boss considers you an inadequate subordinate, unable to complete tasks on time. It's not, but you don't see a way to get your point across to him without making your explanations look like excuses or paranoia. And the worst thing is that because of the same problems that led to the failure of the deadlines now, the next project is also under threat. You can't stop thinking about this situation, and so you slide down a downward spiral of anxiety and helplessness. What will the boss think if the next project fails? What if he fires you? How will you find a job in the current state of the economy? How will you provide for your family if you lose your job?

But instead of dwelling on the hopelessness of the current situation (which will ultimately lead you to a dead end), you can make another choice - to take action. This will help you feel better and move in the right direction.

To begin, create a new file on your computer and write down all your thoughts and feelings about the situation. The writing process will already help you to improve your mood, and after you put your thoughts in order, you can see what specific steps you need to take in order to still deliver the project on time, despite all the difficulties and problems.

If you manage to do this, then your boss will be convinced that you are a competent and loyal employee, and you can again raise the issue of new rules and why they reduce your efficiency. Once you get out of this situational "pit", you will be able to find other ways to improve relations with your superiors.

Obey the habitual or change the world?

There are a lot of very serious problems in the world, and sometimes their number simply overwhelms us. The decline in the quality of education, the rise in corporate scandals, the economic crisis - not to mention wars, pollution and terrorism. How can I, one of millions of little people, change the world? How can I, with all my flaws, needs and problems, be the cause of any meaningful change?

Of course, many events in the world around us do not depend on the efforts of individuals, and yet we greatly underestimate our ability to change the world for the better. I can indeed create a new reality, a different world, if I make the decision to dedicate my mind and my heart to it, and then start acting on that decision.

In the film "Pay It Forward", a school teacher asks the students to make a report on how each of them could change the world for the better. One of them, Trevor, decides to do three good deeds, volunteer to help randomly selected people three times, and then ask them - instead of gratitude - to help someone else three times and have them ask for the same instead of gratitude, and so on. If every person helped by someone in turn helps three other people, then in twenty-one "steps" all people on Earth will receive someone's help. The film is about how Trevor's good deeds create a positive impact that spreads like circles on water. This influence deeply affects the lives of people whom Trevor himself has never even seen. The sense of helplessness in the face of global challenges is rooted in our belief that the contribution of the individual is a drop in the ocean. But if you find a way to do something good and "infect" other people with it - even very few people - you can cause significant changes. In our "global village," social ties expand exponentially, and our every action moves in circles through time and space. Change the world for the better. Repay others for what has been done for you and inspire them to do the same.

From the book “What will you choose?”