Happiness Idea: Toss Your Eraser!

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

If you struggle with making any of ‘em—from what to wear to work to whether or not to give love another shot—then today’s little happy life idea is for you!

The art of life is not that you take the clear path in front of you, it's that you set off on one and just see where it leads. (Image: Amy Spencer, Montauk Path)

My husband Gus and I can be pretty bad at making small decisions. It takes us 20 minutes to choose what to eat for lunch and 15 minutes to actually eat it. It takes us 45 minutes to pick a movie to watch, and Gus is asleep 10 minutes in. And our next vacation? My word, we’ll be debating the options until March. But I know we’re not alone.

With all the decision-making our modern world allows, sometimes we get so caught up in making the right choice that we paralyze ourselves from making any choice at all! In his book Paradox of Choice, author Barry Schwartz writes, “Choice no longer liberates, but debilitates.” What’s really behind all this? Well, I think that with all the information at our fingertips to help us make a perfect decision, we’re now terrified of now making the wrong one.

But here’s the thing. No matter how many pros & cons lists we make about a choice, sometimes it won’t work out. Sometimes the lunch place has stale bread, the movie stinks, the second date is a disaster and the job makes us miserable. And that’s okay! Becuase that’s how life works. We’re moving forward all the time. Like John W. Gardner once said, “Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” No, you don’t have an eraser, but you have a huge, bright, empty piece of paper in front of you to draw in whatever direction you want to go next.

Try this: Give your brain’s decision department a break. Be bold! Imagine taking a permanent marker to draw your sign on the one piece of posterboard you have left. Just trust your gut, listen to your heart, and go for it. If you find yourself feeling along the way that it’s just not working out…redirect! There are very few decisions or mistakes in life that can’t be fixed. A wedding can be called off, and a called-off wedding can also be called right back on. Money can be mostly refunded, jobs can be quit, movies can be walked out of. And that piece of posterboard, it has a backside, too. Sure, maybe you end up with a little headache trying to fix it…but weren’t you giving yourself as much of a headache in struggling over the decision in the first place? Free yourself my making any choice at all, then see where it takes you next.

Gus and I have another trick that helps: We have an app called “The Decider” on our iPhones. And when we find ourselves torn between two great options, we declare, “Let’s let The Decider decide.” We type in the choices, watch the arrow spin, and see our future chosen for us. Really, it’s a relief. And so far, it’s worked out just fine.

Let’s not spend 30% of our lives debating what to do with the other 70%. What a waste of our spirit! Be fearless. Put the pencil to paper and just draw. Let your hand and heart guide you (or a Decider decide for you) and see how free you feel just making a choice so you can get back to living the brilliant art of your life again.

Big love,

Amy