The Importance of “3”

21 Oct

Flip a coin.  Draw straws.  Check your horoscope.  How do you make decisions?

The pressure is on us all to buy things because that’s the way our economy works.  The more I spend and buy, the better the overall economy.  At least that’s what I’m led to believe.  But what I do is end up buying things I really don’t need.  I may want it, but I don’t need it.  That doesn’t stop me, though, and so I make the ill-informed, emotional decision to spend money for the newest edition of this or the latest version of that.  My decisions are influenced by pretty pictures and phony promises.  I’m the joy of Madison Avenue…and I’m tired of it.

I think most of us make decisions to satisfy three particular areas of our lives.  The first is Ego.  The second is Altruism.  And the third is Personal Gain.  When I analyze my own reasons for doing the things I do, trying to be as honest as possible, I discover that my ego often demands a hand in the game…is this going to make me look good or bad?   Or, that my desire to be helpful is made at the cost of others’ welfare…my family or loved ones.   Or,  that I calculate how the choice is going to put more coins in my pocket…is this going to benefit me financially or emotionally?  I’m not saying that Ego, Altruism, and Gain are bad things; they just get out of balance and lead me down some regrettable paths that might have been avoided if I had some mechanism or method for making thoughtful, better informed decisions.

So here’s what I’m going to do.

 I’ve decided to take a deep breath and ask myself three questions before making important decisions.  The first is “Is this the right thing to do?”  The second, “Am I doing this for the right reasons?”   And, “Is this the right time to make this decision?”  The right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time.  And, yes, I know that some standard has to define the “right” – whether that standard is ethical considerations, or philosophical concepts, or spiritual beliefs.  Mine happens to be the last one, so I will ask those three questions against the background of my spiritual foundations.  Is this potential decision consistent with the principles of my spiritual understanding…it is the right thing?  Am I about to make this decision for reasons that contradict or undermine those beliefs…is the reason appropriate?  And, is this decision coming at a time that will most support or fulfill those foundational beliefs or is it ill-timed, better considered at a later date…is this really the right time?   No one can say that decision making is always easy, but maybe something like the three questions will help me avoid the regrets of poorly made choices.

It beats flipping a coin.

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