The Tao of Decision Making

Making a major life decision can be a tricky business for the best of us. The mind goes into overdrive mode, emotional clouds engulf us, and our whole system goes into an obsessive desperation to get out of this uncomfortable state.

Sometimes the final decision is pulled towards the strongest fear or desire, and sometimes made out of sheer exhaustion or frustration. Here are a few tips that my mentor GD shares with those around him on ‘seeing’ this whole maze of decision-making.

1)   “What to do?” is not the right question.
When you struggle incessantly with your decision, GD says, there is no place for something new to land. Somewhat like an airport where all the runways are already jammed with airplanes, allowing no new flight to arrive. The relaxation of a warm, soapy bathtub, as Archimedes showed, can be the secret to fresh inspiration. Shifting the focus from ‘what should I do’ to ‘coming to the right space where the decision can happen’ is important. Instead of struggling for the answer, find peace in this moment – and then wait for the solution to ‘land’.

2)   See the illusion of the ‘One Perfect Choice’
Choice is based on an underlying story that there is only one perfect decision: one path which leads to absolute happiness and another which leads to ruin. Release yourself from this draconian scenario by seeing that no matter what choice you make, it will have its own share of challenges and joys. This relaxes the mind from constantly plotting, manipulating and waiting for the ‘jackpot’ choice. And takes the weight off your shoulders of making that one perfect decision. As Byron Katie puts it: “If you go left, you get a story. Go right and you get another story.”

3)   Be at Peace on the Crossroad
Have you noticed that decisions appear life-consuming only when you are miserable? When you are happy, in a flow or playing with your cat, they lose their life-and-death seriousness. Being peaceful and joyous in the moment is a great platform upon which decisions crystallize.
Also, remembering that the external world cannot ultimately make you happy is a good sticky-note during this phase. Ultimately, it’s not about making the right decision, the real thing is finding love-peace-joy in this moment regardless of external situations.

4)   The freedom and simplicity of ‘I-Don’t-Know’
Instead of forcing a decision, consider the possibility of simply and honestly acknowledging ‘I-don’t-know-yet’ to yourself and others. Or “I am not sure yet, let’s leave it open for now.” Sometimes, the answer has not yet unfolded for you, and sometimes, even when you are clear within, there may be a pause sign within the system… saying it’s not time for action yet. Honor your pauses and waiting periods as much as you honor your time of action.

5)   Clear your Desires & Fears around the subject
Greed and fear often prompt us to take decisions which are not aligned with the heart – some people get married under pressure, others take up jobs they hate. If you know how to, use therapies, clearing processes and meditations to clear your energy around the subject. Once the howling winds of desire and fear have quietened, the still small voice of the heart starts being heard.

6)   Thy will be done
Finally, remember that things happen as they happen and when they happen. Surrender to the grander scheme of things – the higher intelligence that is flawlessly executing a million processes right now in the universe. The ego’s desire to control life is the fundamental source of its suffering. And allowing itself to surrender and allow and flow with life, the key to its liberation.

On this, GD sometimes quotes his own teacher, who often used to say: ‘The entire journey can be done with just four words – Thy Will Be Done.’

Image courtesy of scottchan /

4 thoughts on “The Tao of Decision Making

  1. Lovely post Aalif. That’s also my motto, thy will be done, because its not me who’s ultimately making the decision. I just think I am which is why I get my knickers in a twist! You’ve made some great points. I’m still going to marry GD in my next life!


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