Decisions Decisions

She’s so quirky, she makes faces. I think we’d be friends.

Yesterday on a hike with my dog, Ruby, I saw a woman coming toward me. It was Zooey Deschanel, of the hit Fox TV sitcom, “The New Girl.” Well I just so happened to be listening to Zooey Deschanel’s band, She & Him, on my iPod. Within 5 seconds of this realization, I had an entire scenario playing out in my head. I would say, “Oh! I’m listening to you!” as I walked by and she would nod and say, “Oh cool, I like your dog.” Or maybe I’ll offer her an earphone so she can hear herself croon out a Smokey Robinson cover–no wait that might be too creepy. But Zooey Deschanel is kinda weird, so she might be into that. She’ll laugh her quirky laugh and say, “That’s so funny! I love your dog!” And then we’ll chat and become friends. All of this playing out inside my head in 5 seconds. As I got closer, I realized it wasn’t Zooey Deschanel after all. But she had a very cute, playful dog, and we chatted for a moment about our playful pups while I tried to hide my disappointment.

As I was walking away, I thought about how I do that sort of thing all the time. I frequently think I see an actor I like or a celebrity I could care less about and I play out entire conversations in my head. All in the course of seconds. And yes, that’s kind of weird, because 9 times out of 10 it is not that person, and the times that it has been who I thought it was, I either kept my mouth shut or put my foot in it while trying to play out the scenario I planned in my mind. This is all true. But more importantly, what I do all the time is make snap decisions that are rich and complete and full energy.

This is intriguing to me because sometimes I can be indecisive. If you know me, you’re probably laughing right now, because by “sometimes” I mean most of the time. I struggle with making decisions because I am so afraid that I am going to make the wrong one and then my life will be ruined. Because I am so plagued by decision-making, I’ve become very interested in all things decision-related. I’ve become a bit of a student of decision, and I’ve learned a thing or two about it in the process.
A little etymology for you:
The word “decide” comes from the Latin word “decidere” which means  “to cut off,” from the prefix de-, “off” + caedere “to cut, to strike.”

 

Well no wonder I feel pressure when faced with a decision about lunch. Whatever decision I make, I will be killing off all other options. If I pick a healthy kale salad, will pizza cease to exist henceforth?! Well I don’t know if I want to kill pizza as an option for the rest of my life! Maybe I want pizza! Maybe I want to kill the kale salad! Does that mean I’m going to be fat for the rest of my life?! Maybe I should kill the pizza!!!

That’s sort of how it goes in my brain. It gets a little crazy in my brain from time to time.

There are two things that help me calm down about my indecision.

1) Since we’re talking etymology,  I discovered that the word “choose” comes from the Latin word “gustus” which means “to taste, to try.” Most of us would use the word “decide” to define the word “choose.” And in fact many dictionaries do. But there seems to be a distinction when you look at the evolution of the words. Choose is more forgiving. It allows for trial and error. For tasting. No need to kill the pizza, it will still be there for you to choose later. Ahhh…much better.

2) Take 5. Last week at my WW meeting, this was the topic–Take 5. WW wants you to take 5 minutes everyday to plan what food you will eat. This is all well and good, fine and dandy, and I have had a lot of success with planning. Everyone should plan ahead.  But sometimes its important to take 5 min of your day to NOT think about food (or the ever-growing list of to-do list,  or the current problem you’re trying to resolve at your job, or whatever is on your, ahem, plate that presses on you).

 

What I realized after I walked by not-Zooey Deschanel woman in the park is that we all make dozens if not hundreds of decisions a day. Can I get away with hitting snooze one more time? What should I wear today? Which shoes should I wear with that outfit? Do I need a sweater? What time should I leave for work? Which way should I drive to work? So I understand the value in planning your food ahead of time so that food decisions are made for the day. But my life doesn’t always go as planned, and sometimes there are going to be tough decisions to make even though I’ve planned things out. Oops there’s traffic, should I take a side street? Oops that woman cut me off, should I honk my horn or flip her off? Oh, that’s not Zooey Deschanel, now what do I say?

Sometimes I CAN make a decision quickly and in the moment. I’m not a big flipper-offer (I find it awkward and it makes me feel like I’m in an 80’s movie) so for me that’s gonna be a no. I’m too polite. I’d rather just seethe and growl to myself. I make this decision almost without thinking.

But sometimes, I get stuck in an epic showdown of options, each one vying for my attention. Pizza, kale, pizza, kale, to be or not to be.

 

It’s in those moments, when I’m just plain stuck in indecision, I’m learning how important it is to take 5. Or 20 or several days depending on the dilemma. Time away from thinking about what I am going to decide–to kill, to cut-off, to strike. Time to clear my brain and think about something else.  When I come back to it, I find that it’s easier to look at what’s before me as a choice that I might taste and try instead of a decision about who and what I must murder. I find that taking a break from making a decision allows my subconscious to ponder on what it is that I really want, on what’s most important.

Sometimes it’s the kale. And sometimes it’s the pizza. But by then I’ve realized there’s nothing life or death about kale & pizza. Even though I’ve just made a decision.

I bet Zooey Deschanel knows what I’m talking about.

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