Decision-making: It’s not just about life-changing decisions like accepting a new job, deciding where to go to university, choosing whom to marry, or whether to buy a house. Decision-making mainly comes down to the choices we make daily, like What am I going to eat for breakfast? How will I respond to the co-worker who irritates me? Should I say no to this extra project? How am I going to spend my lunch hour?
In Margaret Blackie’s book Rooted in Love, which I recently posted about, she talks about the importance of noticing these small things and how they may or may not be life-giving. “It is important to pay attention to how you feel after a cup of coffee with a friend, or reading a particular book, or magazine or website. … practise actively choosing those things which are drawing out the best in you.”
These small daily choices contribute to our larger desires. In the 200th episode of How I Met Your Mother, there is a scene where The Mother (she’s unnamed at this point) is having a conversation with a guy named Mitch (the details are unimportant):
The Mother: I feel so lost right now. I don’t even know what I’m doing with my life.
Mitch: I felt lost for a long time too… Until I finally woke up and realised I wanted to follow my dream of teaching music. Let me save you a few years. Even if it sounds completely crazy, what is it you want to do with your life?
The Mother: I want to end poverty.
Mitch: Great, then every decision you make from here on out should be in service of that.
When watching this scene I had the temptation to laugh at her seemingly unrealistic dream to end poverty. But Mitch didn’t. He saw her dream as valid and that the only way to begin to approach it was to change her decision-making habits in service of that dream. As The Mother concludes her story we see her in a classroom sitting next to her future roommate saying, “I knew that if I really wanted to end poverty, I had to get a degree in economics.”
This reminded me of Pedro Arrupe’s words on falling in love. It expresses that every decision we make in concert with our deepest desires, no matter how small, can lead to greater things.
Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.
Listen to an audio version of this post…
Music by Kevin MacLeod
When I saw this episode of HIMYM, I made the same association with Pedro Arrupe’s prayer and Ignatian discernment. A transcendent moment of truth from a naked man with a cello!
Andy, this post is great–how to take a large desire (end poverty) and break it down into “bite-sized” pieces. Too often, I listen to people (myself included) despair of ever being able to better our world and the lives of people living in desperate conditions (war and poverty to name two). As truly awful news pummels us each day, “nothing” seems to be what I myself am able to do to change things. So Mitch’s response to Mother is heartening: to be able to choose impossibly large desires and deliberately make all the little things I do be in service of that. Pedro Arrupe’s words make so much sense! I often used to tell my kids when they faced tough tasks or situations as teenagers to imagine they were sitting down to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. If they put the entire turkey into their mouths at once, they would choke; but they could eat that turkey bite by small bite. And of course, “chewing well” was analagous to reflecting well on they chose to nourish themselves. Anyway. Great post! I loved this reminder.
i really love this – thank you so much for sharing!
Reblogged this on Walking With My Brother and commented:
I was captured again by this post and struck by its value and direction, anytime, but especially now, as we enter Lent. What is your deepest desire for your life?