Hey guys! It’s Dad.
When I was in college I had the privilege of taking an economics class taught by Stanford University professor and Austrian economist Kurt Leube. He opened my mind to an amazing truth that took me a long time to really wrap my head around. Sometimes this idea can be the most ridiculous concept to try to grasp. However, when pushed or challenged to take this though to its end, my beliefs have been wrong…every…single…time, and this simple statement has been right.
We, as human beings, always make the right decision.
Let me write that again.
We always make the right decision.
Culturally, personally, privately, we spend so much time beating ourselves up about our life circumstances. Whether it is a career choice or who we chose as a lover or a spouse, a friend or a business relationship that didn’t work out, we’re bound to question our past choices. Maybe it was a purchase that we made that later yielded an outcome that was unforeseeable, unintended, and undesired. Maybe we missed out on an investment opportunity that could have changed our lives and the lives of everyone in our family…forever. Our doubts and second guessing have and will continue to go on and on.
When we back up to the point in time when we made these decisions, at that time, with those circumstances, with what we knew or thought we knew…the decision the right one.
It’s impossible to put ourselves in that position again because now we are more experienced. We have hindsight. So even if we can bring ourselves to imagine the precise moment when we made that choice…the one that resulted in an outcome other than what we intended or hoped for we can’t do anything about it but dwell on it. We’re pretty good at that.
When we’re in the midst of the destructive emotions and self loathing, feelings of hurt and confusion and sorry can be palpable. But we’re judging ourselves harshly. We’re judging ourselves unfairly because now we bring with us our new experiences and the ability to see the actual outcome. Now we have the crystal ball.
So when faced with our decision, with the experience we had and the emotion of the moment and the goal we were trying to achieve at the time…we used our faculties to the best of our abilities to give us the best possible outcome. We made the best decision. It was the right decision. Yet we continue to judge ourselves because the outcomes of our decisions were not what we had hoped.
Think about a time when you were charitable or selfless. Maybe you won $10,000 on the TV show and selflessly gave it away to cancer research after losing your mother to cancer. It was kind and charitable. The joy you felt honoring your mother’s life and her struggles far outweighed any materialistic possession; any “thing.” The choice you made was with the understanding that you’d feel better knowing that you made that contribution to such a deserving beneficiary. Later, however, you learn that the organization you donated to was less than forthcoming with where your contribution would go. Then, six months later, you learn that your contribution went to a dishonest non-profit organization whose CEO is sitting on his yacht in the Bahamas, and it’s all over the newsI
If you’re human, you’d likely find yourself swimming in a sea of unhealthy and unhappy emotions like shame, anger, disappointment, sadness, and so on. You’d probably be the subject of your own self-deprecating comments like “I’m always making stupid choices. I just can’t win.” But, at the time you chose to make that selfless, well intentioned charitable contribution…you made the right choice.
Perhaps you went through a bitter divorce. With your unique set of circumstances and with your background and in the mood you were in at the moment the decision was made you chose to walk away from all of your personal belongings. You just wanted out…NOW. At that time—with the intention of simplifying your new life…or with the intention of causing your spouse inescapable guilt…or proving that you were in control…not him…or any other of a sea of motivations, you chose.
Looking back, you gave up everything. You’re now faced with having to rebuild, almost like a junior college student trying to make ends meet. It’s brutal, embarrassing, and exhausting. But…in that moment…hastily or otherwise…you still made that choice—consciously or unconsciously—with the understanding that you would be better off as a result of that decision.
Maybe you robbed a bank. Maybe you were violent toward someone. Maybe you lied and got caught. Maybe you lied and didn’t get caught…but you feel horrible. Maybe you climbed Mt. Everest and lost your fingers to frostbite. Maybe you gambled your life savings away. Maybe you even considered ending your life. Those choices, wise or short sighted…were all made with the belief that you’d be better off on the other side of your choice.
At the end of the day, all too often, we find that the outcome of our decisions is what we struggle with, not the decision itself. “I’m so stupid!” “What was I thinking?” “Why did I do that?” “I can’t believe I ended up in this position again!”
There’s a hauntingly beautiful song by Joni Mitchell called Both Sides Now. It sings…
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
We can’t know the outcomes of our decisions before we make ‘em. We can’t know what’s gonna happen in terms of our careers or our health choices or investments or relationships until they play themselves out. We’ll only know if our decisions gave us the result we had anticipated after we’ve seen both sides.
Perhaps now, from the other side…you will look back at the decisions you’ve made and afford yourself some well-deserved grace. Now you know that the answer to all those self-sabotaging questions is an easy one.
You made each and every decision you’ve ever made with the simple and sincere belief that you would be better off on the other side.
I love you guys
Be kind to yourselves