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Making Decisions

It is interesting to note different people’s reaction’s to my going to India and possibly going on an extended travel trip. Seems like the combination of dad’s passing away, my aloofness, growing interest in spirituality, lack of a clear travel plan is getting a variety of reactions. Most of the concern surrounds taking care of my mom and how responsible this decision is in the context of my family responsibilities.

In general, there are a few knee jerk reactions to this.  It ranges from extreme happiness, congratulations to blaming and thunderous negativity to non-chalance.  All of these are learning lessons for me and have allowed me to think more broadly and deeply about myself and the world. In fact, it really helped me question my own thinking as well as learn more about the personalities of my friends and families.  Here are some real comments that convey a range of emotions, personal values as well as the risk tolerance for various people. Note that these are first reactions, not a commentary:

  • Oh my God! It is soo cool. I always wanted to do this in my life, but never got around it. I am glad you made a decision to focus on this.
  • What!!!! You leaving your mother by herself! Do you have a heart?
  • Take a GPS with you man. It is very dangerous out there dude.
  • Two months is enough for your trip
  • It will be good to get it out of your system
  • You are crazy and depressed. Maybe one or both!
  • How are you going to make money?

What I noticed amongst most of these comments were that they were more like reactions that happened with little input from trying to understand the decision at a deeper level. One thing contributing to it, of course, is that we are all short of time and have our own issues to deal with–but another is that the reactions serve as a reflection of one’s own world view.

For example, some people made ‘assumptions’ about my values, my state of mind, even my reasoning without collecting the ‘facts’ and immediately super-imposed their fears, excitement or own values on it to form a reaction. Very few people took the time to get to the core of things. Even if they did not necessarily agree with me, they facilitated a very healthy discussion and gave me insights into my own thinking. After all, there are no right or wrong answers–although it is critical to understand how convicted a person is and how thought-through the decision is.

I don’t dislike the people who talk negative or don’t agree with me, neither do I fall in love with people who support me. What I do appreciate is a demonstrated capability to absorb raw information, treat in a non-judgmental way, ability to understand opposing views with careful calibration before framing and mixing it with one’s own views, biases and conditionings. For most people, it was a click-whirr reaction as Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D. describes it.

This is important to notice in all of us because this is how we make our life decisions everyday. So one thing to learn from and notice from ‘what you felt’ about the decision is to consider on how you yourself function what what hopes and fears shape all of your decisions.

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2 thoughts on “Making Decisions

  1. When people make decisions that are outside of their realm of experience and moreover, beyond what is “normal”, their insecurities surface. 99% of us live a “checklist” lifestyle…get a job, get married, have kids, buy a house…etc. If anyone veers away from this checklist…even for a few months or a few years, people get uncomfortable.

    We get uncomfortable because we wish we could have explored spirituality and ourselves (jealousy). We may feel angry that the traveler is leaving and has “abandoned” them. They may feel nervous because there is no plan and the unknown is too scary, especially in our overly planned society.

    What I admire about you, Samir, is that you are doing your best to be authentic and strive to be the best person you can be. Your spiritual work will be the focus of what you will be doing in your travels. This is noble and will in turn make you a better person for the world to have. It will make you a better son, friend, cousin, etc.

    Its good that you can deconstruct what the reactions are and understand them objectively. AND you want others to learn from their reactions in order to understand themselves better. Thanks for taking the time to help us along on this life journey of spirituality.

  2. I agree with most of what you’ve written. And reading this makes me realize my need to be neutral and taking the emotion out of any situation! It is so tough to be detached and I am sure the outcome of that must feel like so much lighter!
    Wow I am in complete awe of you! When ur back with your beard n all I will totally make you my guru:))
    Jokes apart.. you are sooooo deep in your thoughts.. I am just blown away! Wish I knew you before or that we could spend some time together..

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