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TAKE A CHILL PILL:Making Simple Choices and Easy Decisions for a Happy You

By Aditi Raman Shridhar
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“I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job. Because he or she will find an easy way to do it,” says billionaire and world’s richest man till 2017 – Bill Gates.

Simple choices and easy decisions make a very happy life. Many of you might smirk at my proposition to make life happier by making things simple. But you will be thrilled to know that it is possible and it boils down to practice, really. If you a habit of making every event and relationship in your life complicated then this column is for you. If you have a habit of investing minimum amount of time in making choices and decisions and reaping extraordinary results out of it, then this column will validate you. So, keep reading!

Ever since we human beings were in the hunting-gathering stage, it got ingrained in us that the only way we could survive was by struggling to get that next meal. Obviously! If we didn’t hunt and gather we would die of hunger. Interestingly, this evolutionary psychology or the instinct of survival (as it is popularly called in psychologist circles) got so deeply engraved in our minds that today it shows itself in practically everything we do in life. Whether it is love and relationships or job or competition in any field or health, our survival mode starts flashing like a loud beacon and we deliberately put ourselves into a hustle mode. We deliberately take difficult decisions and choose what is clearly too hard and not right for us. But we cannot help it. It is a foreign idea to keep things simple, to take simple decisions and choose quickly. Because unless the struggle doesn’t seem hard-fought for, often the prize doesn’t seem valuable enough!

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE?

Rate yourself out of 10, with 1 being totally cool and 10 being highly stressed out.

If you are in a cereal aisle shopping for jams and jellies and there are 50 options, how fast and how best will you choose?

If you are at a salon and have to pick a nailpolish colour out of 30 varieties, how easily will you choose?

If you see your boss wrongly framing your colleague for a fraud case and threatening to fire you if you didn’t keep shut, what will you do?

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If you are dating a person who is unable to give you the love and connection you are seeking, how long will you stick around?

Some of you may answer “IT DEPENDS”stating that conditions matter in many cases. For example if there is no threat to your job you would definitely bail out your colleague but if threatened yourself, you might not. The simple and easy decision here is to help your colleague. The choice is clear. It is right, in tune with your moral values and frankly what you must do. But the way you help might differ from person to person. Perhaps you are able to help him out without making yourself visible in the process.

Let me share with you an example of my friend Donna who has an 8-year-old son. She was going through a rough patch in her life lately. She called me up and told me three events that had apparently shaken up her smooth life and she wanted help. The first was choosing one new client out of three in the month of February for an architectural project they had approached her for. She is an architect and quite in demand. She could choose only one client because her team was already overloaded with previous projects and she felt she could do justice to only one project on her own. The fee being offered to her by all three clients was pretty generous. She was having a hard time letting go of two clients and their fee. “What should I do to make them wait for me? I will lose two clients forever,”she cried on the phone.

The second situation was that her husband was out of town for a month and her house help was a newbie. Donna was having trouble training the new staff and buying groceries and taking her son out on weekends amidst all the enormous work she was caught in.

The third situation was that there was a family wedding just around the corner in aneighbouring country and she had to attend it on two days. “They will abandon me if I don’t go. I have not attended any cousin’s wedding in the last two years,” she said.

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What would you do if you were in Donna’s shoes?

  1. Let go of one or two clients out of three. Ask them to wait in queue for the next month. Promise them you will start their project on time and satisfy them with your creativity. And start with the first client right now.
  2. Get your son to spend more time with kids his age. Let the new staff do only what you can manage to train them in minimum possibletime. Make a list and finish a month’s grocery shopping in a go.
  3. Take a few extra days from the client to be able to attend the wedding for two days.

What would you have suggested to Donna?

Making easy choices does not mean running away from solving the problems at hand. It simply means doing the things that align with our true self, are correct, and easiest to do. There is no point making a situation more complicated by trying to avoid simple and most obvious choices and answers.

5EXAMPLES OF BAD CHOICES

  1. If you are a student and are studying for long hours but not achieving any results.
  2. If you are looking for love in a visibly complicated individual and hoping that they change.
  3. If you are lying to your partner in a relationship to keep yourself safe from bad consequences.
  4. If you are not offering help to someone who is clearly in need of help and you have nothing to lose
  5. Deciding to stay in a job that only gives you one of these two – satisfaction, money.

If any choice or decision makes you stressed out or is not aligned with the purest human nature which is love, joy, content, connection with others, courage, truth andmaterial wealth, then clearly you are trying to struggle without meaning.

THINK SIMPLE, BE SIMPLE

There are lots of phrases in the English that we have been fed over and over again just to make our lives miserable. Some of these are Burn the midnight oil, there are no short cuts to success, success is the result of perfection, hard work and learning from failure, and making a mountain out of a molehill.Let’s break these down and choose right.

  1. Do not burn the midnight oil – Burning the midnight oilessentially means studying or doing any activity till late night. A good sleep is more important and the amount of labour does not relate to a particular time of the day. Every person has a time slot in the day when they are most productive – morning or night. Choose yours.
  2. There are short cuts to success – Short cut doesn’t always mean cutting down on labour, but finding many more routes to success. Results can be achieved with many possible ways and finding new ones is essential to keep yourself out of the rat race and the stress it brings along with it.
  3. Success is the result of smart work, focus and consistent action – There is no other way to achieve success than being focused on what you truly want, taking consistent action towards it, and making smart choices in achieving them.
  4. Make a mole hill out of a mountain – Making a mountain out of a molehill means exaggerating a small event and blowing it out of proportion and creating drama around it. Try minimizing every dramatic event into even smaller event and keep it light as cotton. At least 99% of your reactions to people and events in your day are exaggerated.
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Living life is not a duty. You didn’t come here to fix something that is broken or to complete a to-do list. You came here for the fun of it, for the exhilaration and magic of being alive. Do things that make you happy. Be around happy people because attitude is contagious. Make changes to improve your day to day life, your emotions and attitude and have fun.

Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished. Faster doesn’t mean better. Harder doesn’t mean more valuable. Busier doesn’t mean winning. Don’t rush through life. Put your heart into what you love doing and my friends, KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Until next week.

Aditi Raman Shridhar is an Indian journalist, therapist and health instructor.

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TAKE A CHILL PILL:Making Simple Choices and Easy Decisions for a Happy You

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