We make over ten thousand decisions every single day.
This can be the burden it is or we can be thankful we have some choice at all. We would be crushed if we had to make the more important decisions of our own volition without any internal counsel. And even though there may be dozens of external factors at play, it still comes down to your inner dialogue in the choices you make - for better or for worse.
If we can get our decision-making process even just 1% better, the wake of benefits will compound into the future for years to come.
Let’s unlock it now.
Your conscience is a built-in Siri that’s accessible 24/7 to point you in the right direction.
The problem is that you aren’t the best listener.
The whispers of your conscience get drowned out by distraction and you end up learning more in hindsight. It’s a core feature of your experience, yet it isn’t used as such. To hear your conscience, you have to quiet down. You have to be able to hear its yes’s and no’s.
When people say they have a guilty conscience, it’s because they didn’t listen to it in the first place. Now that little voice on your shoulder is giving you hell for not doing as it advised, knowing you’d have been better off had you listened.
It knows right from wrong and it’s there to guide you along in any situation. The more you use it, the better it gets at speaking up. The more you use it, the better you feel.
This is one of those skills that improves you from the inside out.
Don’t worry, it gets harder because there isn’t just one voice on your shoulders - there are two.
The second voice is the adversary. It’s the one wanting you to ignore the little things, telling you all the while, “What’s the big deal? It will be fine. No one will notice.”
You may ask, “Why does this adversarial ‘option’ exist in the first place?”
This comes down to free will. Would it not be a better version of Good to have the choice between Good/Bad but still make the Good choice?
In the alternative, you would be ‘forced’ to choose Good because there are no other options.
As a tiny example, it’s a drastically better plot when the hero of the story comes from nothing and struggles his way upward versus having it made from the get-go.
In short, the adversarial option exists as proof of free will and to elevate what’s possible when Good is chosen.
The tough part is making the distinction between your conscience and the adversary.
They tend to both have your voice in your head which makes things all the more confusing. Luckily, you can ascribe a feeling to the outcome they’re promoting. There’s a sense of right versus wrong. One’s request is more difficult in the short term and makes you feel uncomfortable.
The other, the adversary’s, is the easiest choice in the short-term and is instantly gratifying as it’s the most comfortable - it requires nothing more of you.
The path you want to be a part of will always ask more of you.
It wants you to rise to the occasion, stand just a little bit taller, and stretch yourself just beyond what you’ve done before.
This story is quite embarrassing, but it illustrates the point perfectly:
I had been taking walks after lunch during the workday and each time I passed through the yard I walked right by one of those solar lights for flower beds lying in the grass. For like 3 days in a row I walked right by it, looking away, ignoring it, thinking to myself, “Didn’t see it. Not my problem. Someone else will notice and place it back.” After 3 days, I couldn’t stand myself anymore for such pitiful laziness and I fixed the light back how it ought to go.
As completely dumb as that is, these sorts of things happen all the time. Maybe it’s the urge to go back and apologize for the way I spoke. Maybe it’s how I need to prepare something ahead of time versus waiting until the last minute. These moments take infinite form, but the conscience is there the entire time, tugging at my attention, and showing me what I need to do.
The relief you feel when you do take the time to listen is hysterical in proportion to how small the ‘called upon’ action may have been. But this is the experience you live in. This is where God asks you to tend to. You handle those small moments, the ones you feel too good for, too important to deal with, and God will see to the big things. It takes immense humility to live so ‘lowly’.
You want your troubles to be what’s on the big stage, when in fact it truly is the spilled popcorn in Row E.
Turns out there can be a lot of overlap between building design and building a life. John Ruskin (unknowingly perhaps) tells us how to live life better.
It's never too late to stumble upon an underlying principle of reality. (Especially one that can be put to use immediately)