“Excellent Choice.” “Oh, that’s my favorite dish here.” “Perfect.”
Have you ever noticed that restaurant servers go out of their way to affirm their customers’ menu selections? That’s not an accident. A number of restaurants equip their servers with specific words and phrases to help people feel affirmed when ordering. That’s because a great many of us are intimidated when making decisions, like should I order the fish or pasta.
Princeton philosopher Walter Kaufmann calls it decidophobia. We’re freaked out by the possibility of making a mistake, missing an opportunity or looking foolish in front of others. A sociologist named Sheena Iyengar has run the numbers. Most of us make about 70 conscious decisions every day. That adds up to 25,550 decisions every year. At 70 years of age you’ve been responsible for making 1,788,500 decisions. You better not blow it!
As the old saying goes, “Life is the sum of all our choices.” We make lots and lots of decisions. But it’s just as true that our decisions make us. So what goes into making a great life? A jaw-dropping paycheck, grateful and happy children, a resume that impresses everyone at your high school reunion?
The ancient Hebrews would say, “Don’t waste your time.” Life is about Wisdom. Wisdom, according to Bible authors is the art of making great decisions. That’s because making great decisions is the essence of making a great life. “Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do. And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.” (Proverbs 4:7)
But where do we get discernment? What if you’re facing a crucial decision, one that has far greater ramifications than what you might have for dinner? Think of at least one person whose wisdom and judgement you esteem. Approach that person, share what you’re struggling with, and ask them to speak into your life-openly, honestly and directly.
Author and Pastor John Ortberg has it just right: “Almost all train-wreck decisions people make (and we all make them) could be prevented just by asking one wise person to speak seriously into our lives and then listening.”
Life is a sum of choices. Don’t be paralyzed by decidophobia. Be wise.
And nine times out of ten, it’s probably best to go with the fish.
Ron Naylor, Chaplain