Decision- How one should make? (Part-2)

Trust in yourself. Your perceptions are often more accurate than you are willing to believe.
-Claudia Black
 
What happens in decision making is that we have given choices and we have to select one. How do we select? We select by comparison. First we set an ideal and then compare each choice with the ideal and the choices which do not match are cut. The word ‘decision’ is itself derived from two Latin words ‘de and caedere’ meaning to cut off. The matching or nearly matching is selected and we act accordingly. Now the question arises that from where do we get choices? The answer is from past experiences or probable outcomes.
 
Let me give you a situation. Suppose a person is just arrived on earth and he had no prior experiences of anything, his memory was empty and he started a grocery store. He met his first customer and the customer wanted to purchase on credit and agreed to pay by the evening. Since he had no prior experiences of this type, he had to select on random basis. The outcome is 2 i.e. either he would pay or not pay; hence, the probability is 1/2. He sold the item to the customer. The customer also kept his promise and paid by the said time. Next day also another customer came and offered the same and he sold but that customer did not kept his promise and didn’t pay by the said time. Third day a different customer came and demanded the same term. Now he had two prior experiences; in one promise was kept and in another promise was not kept. By combining the two separate incidences into one, the probability was still 1/2. So he trusted this customer and sold the item but this customer also failed to pay by the said time. On fourth day, a new customer came and promised the same terms as promised by previous customers but this time the person refused to sell because he had a reason to deny. In his last three experiences only one out of three paid and remaining two failed. The probability of paying is 1/3 and the probability of not paying is 2/3 which is greater than the probability of paying. Hence, his decision is justified. Is it? If we look from another perspective, this is a new event and the probability of paying is still 1/2, so it is not wrong to predict that he might get the payment this time.
 
It is deduced from the constant studies of Sir Roger Penrose, the eminent physicist of these days, on physical basis of consciousness applying quantum physics and Einstein’s general theory of relativity on Plank’s scale that consciousness involves a factor which is neither deterministic nor probabilistic but non-computable. Conscious choices and understanding may be non-computable and free will may be seen as a combination of deterministic pre-conscious processes acted on by a non-computable influence. This can explain why we generally do things in an orderly, deterministic fashion, but occasionally our actions or thoughts are surprising, even to ourselves. The finding seems true because in our hypothetical situation why the person chose to sell to the first customer despite the probability of payment being 1/2 is unexplainable.
 
There is also a way of choosing, called intuition, other than reasoning, which is non computable. It is also valid in situations of decision making where we do not know anything about ideal solution or the choices available and often referred as hunch. Let me clear by citing examples. We all are familiar with aromatic compounds. The basis of aromatic compounds is benzene ring which structure was revealed to August Kekule in a reverie of a snake seizing its own tail. We also know the famous story of Archimedes, who, while bathing in his bathtub got the idea of specific density and the displacement of water by it which later turned into famous Archimedes’ Principle of Buoyancy, ran naked into the court of king shouting “Eureka Eureka” meaning I have found. The falling of an apple before the eyes of late Isaac Newton led to the theory of gravitation is also an established fact.
 
There was a scientist who was less publicized but had more than 200 patents in his name. He earned his living using faculty of intuition in making decision for individuals and corporation. He was Dr. Elmer R. Gates. He had a sound proof room which contained a table with papers & pen and a chair where he sat for ideas. Whenever he had to make decisions or seek ideas, he sat in that room thought over the problem and choices if available and remained there quietly until solutions began to flash in his mind.
 
I heard a story of a man who went to high mountains of Tibet to learn how to use faculty of intuition from a Buddhist monk. He arrived after long trekking of mountain. Upon his arriving, the monk gave him a cup and started to pour tea in it from kettle. He kept pouring. The cup overflowed but he didn’t stop. The man shouted “what the hell happened to you? I heard a lot about you. I travelled such a difficult journey to learn from you but you seem to be a mad one. All my effort went into vain.” The monk replied “in order to gain you must have some empty space to fill. Just trash out your mind.”
 
The faculty of intuition functions only when the conscious mind is at harmony with nature and found to be more active in artistic persons such as painter, writer, musician and poet because they rely on inner perception. It is also a well known fact to the people who have keen imaginations that their best decisions come through the faculty of intuition. That is why; Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge.
 
We used intuitive faculty frequently in our childhoods but have become weak through inaction. It can be revived and made alert through use. This faculty needs to be trusted, the more a person relies on it, the better it functions. Just empty your mind, practice silence, non-judgment and spend time in nature.
 
Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become, everything else is secondary.
-Steve Jobs

Decision (Part-1)

The majority of people who fail to accumulate money sufficient for their needs are, generally, easily influenced by the opinions of others.     -Napoleon Hill
 
Why one is not able to take decisions? Why one feels so tense at the time of making decision? While asking these questions, be aware of the feelings and thoughts rises in the mind. One will find that these feelings and thoughts are having negative connotation and somehow linked to fear; mostly the fear of being ridicule by others than fear of failure.
 
In my childhood I heard many stories of Akbar and Birbal. In one of them, Akbar challenged his courters to make a stick smaller without touching it by any means, which on his order was fixed in the centre of his court. None could find a solution except Birbal. What he did was fixed another stick bigger than the stick fixed by Akbar beside it. The moral of the story opened the door to a new way of thinking for me that one could do destructive things also in constructive manner. Here, the motivating source is not fear but gratification.
 
In doing some destructive thing the fear of criticism is very high as compared to constructive things. Let me give an example, if one is asked to edit an article he would feel fear because he has to find faults which is in someway is destructive. On the other hand if the same person is asked to write a new one he would feel relaxed or might feel delighted. This is because one is comfortable in taking responsibility for oneself than for others. The factor for this way of thinking is the fear of criticism by others.
 
One thing I could tell with utmost responsibility that no one ever is praised by the whole world for taking a particular decision. Jesus was crucified. Socrates was poisoned. Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln were shot dead and still there are many more which could be shared.
 
Lord Rama, according to Hindu mythology, was an ideal person, worshipped as symbol of truth and justice but his decision was also not accepted by all. He decided to accept his wife back after passing chastity test by her but his decision was challenged by a washerman. So it is unwise to expect full acceptance (for whatsoever may be the cause). The famous lyricist of Indian Cinema, Anand Bakshi, in his evergreen song for the movie Amar Prem wrote “don’t bother for other’s comment; it’s their duty to say”.
 
The other prominent interruption in arriving decision is fear of failure. At this point, I must tell that every success story is also a story of great failure. History is full of examples in support. The most quoted one is the example of KFC. Colonel Sanders at the age of 65 started to sell some specially prepared chicken dish but outright rejected at 99 doors. He found his first customer at 100th door. Thomas Alva Edison while struggling to find the correct metal for bulb filament tested 9,999 metals but failed. Finally, in his 10,000th attempt, he succeeded and found tungsten. It is well said by Tom Watson Sr. that if one wants success, he must double the rate of his failures.
 
I heard a story of a man who had a habit of avoiding decision and always rested decisions on fate. One day he had to cross a river and only one boat was available. He felt happy because he didn’t had to choose; it was the decision of fate. He hired the boat. While rowing in mid of river, suddenly, the boatman lost control and the boat started to sink. He was a firm devotee of Lord Mahavir and hence started shouting “Save me Mahavir Save me! It wasn’t my decision. I had no option. I am not responsible for it. You have to save me”. Finally, a hand appeared from sky and took him out of the sinking boat. He felt relieved but next he heard a voice asking whether he sought for Lord Mahavir, disciple of Lord Rama or Lord Mahavir, the Tirthankar of Jain. One cannot escape a decision but can only prolong.   
 
Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.   -Brian Tracy

Ways to combat addiction

When one has the feeling of dislike for evil, when one feels tranquil, one finds pleasure in listening to good teachings; when one has these feelings and appreciates them, one is free of fear.
-Gautam Buddha
 
There are only two kinds of behaviour seen in the Universe, either attraction or repulsion and the motivating force behind them are pleasure and fear respectively. Every human behaviour could be explained in terms of attraction or repulsion. The term behaviour could be understood as the counter-action of a body towards the change in its surrounding and character as the information that governs behaviour. Character is, thus, an accumulation of information gathered as a result of interpretation of interactions held between a body and its environment, stored in a form of memory and associated with the emotion of either pleasure or fear. Why every item in memory is either associated with pleasure and fear and triggers an outcome in the form of attraction or repulsion will be discussed in my later articles.
 
Every behaviour of human is somehow related to something in his memory and addiction is not an exception. Addiction is related to some problem whose solution people don’t know or don’t want to find out and indulge himself in some pseudo-solutions. I refer pseudo-solutions to those solutions devised in a similar fashion as by ostrich, the largest bird on earth, to do away its enemies. Ostrich simply shuts its eyes to make sure that its enemies are no more. This is not a solution but a problem in guise of solution, a pseudo-solution. The same is true with the practices devised with the intention to solve a problem which are unable to solve and moreover revealed itself as a new problem, addiction. In other words, these practices are palliative not curative with also having side effects.
 
One is so involved in the practice that he forgets his problem or thinks like ostrich that the problem solved (Is it?). To get in touch with the problem, stop the practice with assertion of will and focus on the feelings and memories that surface with the withdrawal of activity. The observed thoughts or feelings unveil the underlying problem(s) which must be somehow related to fear in memory. The only answer to fear is feeling of well being lies in fulfilling of some conditions turned out important for us by our previous behaviours. We are the victims of whatever belief system we made and so it is very essential to use conscious mind to build such system and make sure that last link is pleasure in memory.
 
To kneel down the addiction be very specific regarding why one want to quit. The reason must be solid to break the withdrawal jarring.
 
Write the problem uncovered in introspection on a piece of paper and try to find out the solution. With every solution ask a question whether will this eradicate the problem and if the answer is yes then proceed for next step. Don’t worry about addiction during these phases; let it be as it is.
 
The next phase starts with the implementation of solution. Write down the action plan on a fresh piece of paper. The statements written should be affirmative in not more than ten sentences.
 
Make a daily routine to wake up at dawn, walk for 30 minutes before sunrise, take interest in gardening or seeing stars at night or both as per your taste & likings. The point is be in touch with nature. In spare time try to recall the taste of ones favourite dish, fragrance of ones favourite flower or perfume or anything just be creative. If possible try to meditate.
 
Before starting the action plan, it is very important to shatter paper on which problem is written into tiny pieces and throw them into dustbin. This behaviour triggers a new neural pathway apart from old addictive one and signals the brain that he no longer use the old pathway. Since learning is habitual, one has to cultivate the habit of not involving himself into habit by practising habit and any exception would draw the neural current in old pathway deepens it and makes the task harder. To avoid this one could keep the piece of paper on which action plan is written in his purse or pocket to remind the cause to quit the addiction and each remembrance reinforces his conviction and commitment.
 
Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism. 
-Carl Gustav Jung

Addiction- Lethal Allele of Habit

Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity.  -St. Augustine 

It is the irony of reality that it gives as well as take at the same time but appears as giving at macroscopic level, hence, referred as illusion. As soon as we are born, our death is certain. But it rests with us to acknowledge ourselves as dead whether at the time of birth or death. Gautam Buddha, founder of Buddhism, while roaming for the first time out of his palace, saw a corpse and thought himself as dead and felt a strong urge to liberate from twin of birth and death. But that story some other day. 

Habit is no different in this case, it is accompanied by its lethal allele, addiction. Habit is very essential for learning, in fact, learning itself is habitual. But sometimes habit, mixed with a series of events or thoughts as a result of some emotion into prominence that bring change in behavior pattern, mutate to its lethal allele, addiction, which is a state of being enslaved to habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit forming to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
 
Addiction is different in its nature from habit and must be fought differently. It cannot be defeated by assertion of will only because its motive force derives from some underlying need which exists independent of the practice. The addiction is itself aggravating the need, and in this sense is not merely a symptom of the need but for the most part, other practices or life experiences are generating the need. The sufferer from addiction is choosing his practice as a palliative for his pain or discomfort.
 
Practices that become addictive are not always newly adopted ones. The practice may be an occasional activity of the past, like playing cards, which suddenly takes on consuming importance because it becomes the most effective way that mind finds to reduce some intense craving. The habitual cigarette smoker who suddenly develops personal problems may, by using smoking to calm himself, convert the habit into a addiction. Now when he tries to stop, he will become much more anxious than if he had tried earlier, and continued abstinence may not reduce anxiety. He may find it impossible to subdue his urge without replacing smoking by some other activity and thereby reducing his underlying need. We may describe addictive behavior as the attempt by the mind of the sufferer to solve some underlying problem, one perhaps intensified by the activity, but one that owes mainly to difficulties elsewhere in the mind and seldom identified by the sufferer.
 
Two characteristics apart from the strength of the impulse may make a practice difficult to stop. The first is insignificance. Habits difficult to identify may be surprisingly hard to break such as habits like gesticulating etc. The second kind of habitual practice which is difficult to control is the kind that when carried out in moderation is serviceable or necessary such as habit of overeating. 
 
In addition, when we resist our impulse, we nearly always feel incomplete at first. The person who tries not to gesticulate may suddenly feel that his sweeps of the hand are eloquent and that what he is saying cannot be conveyed without the use of his hands.
 
Any strong psychological need may underlie a addictive practice, and any practice may be addictive. Like all palliatives, addictive practices tend to obscure from us the needs that caused us to use them, and lull us into underestimating the urgency of those needs. With nearly every addiction there comes some reduction in the person’s ability to enjoy the wide spectrum of experiences once pleasurable to him. When a craving becomes intense, it tends to become highly specific; other satisfaction will not do. The sufferer from any addiction of long standing, if he stops his practice before carefully resurrecting other sources of gratification, undergoes a “withdrawal reaction” like that which alcoholics report.
 
Habit is habit, not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.    -Mark Twain
 
For sake of simplicity and not making this clumsy, I’ll be discussing how to combat addiction in my next article.

Learning is habitual

Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.    – Vince Lombardi
 
Habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. It is essential for learning. Learning cannot be completed without rehearsing again and again until it is completely absorbed in the brain or more precisely in the nervous system. The word ‘habit’ is derived from Latin word ‘habitus’ meaning ‘retained’. If we further go deep in the history almost at the beginning of the ancient civilizations, we found a word ‘habeō’ meaning ‘to grab’ in the Proto Indo-European language which is thought to be the mother of many Indian and European Languages. As it is clear from the etymology of the word ‘habit’ that it has to do something with learning and exactly how it helps learning can be understood from functioning of the nervous system.
 
The nervous system consists merely of mechanism for the reception & transmission of incoming messages and their transformation into outgoing messages which produce movement. The messages trail in the form of nervous current; leaving impressions on the pathway it traverses which once made can be retained and thereafter tends to seek the same pathway and to end in the same movement when same incoming message received. Movements may be started by the stimulation of a sense organ or by a thought. Howsoever it starts, seeks a way out, and prefers pathways already traversed. Hence we are bound to have habits.
 
Everything that enters nervous system produces some modification within it. It is derived from the factor of modifiability that with each succeeding repetition, the tasks become easier or learning becomes better because the path becomes worn smoothly and the nervous current seek it own accord, in other words, each act and each thought tends to become habitualized . We are bundle of habits and they manifest themselves in two ways as habit of action and habit of thoughts. Our mind is arranged in such habitual patterns that a large part of what we do and think during the course of twenty four hours is habitual.
 
Habit answers the mechanism behind learning which is basically involuntary in nature once the pathway is designed but leaves out option with us to choose which one to develop.
 
To ensure beneficial learning and cultivation of useful habits we must aware about incoming and outgoing messages and act as guard to allow only positive things to enter. We must go slowly at first to register the correct impression, so that it triggers the required outcome in the form of desired habits. It takes 21 days to concrete the neural pathway dig out by any stimulation. So, it is necessary to practice the activity at exact time continuously without any exception for at least 21 days because each time exception deepens the old pathway to boost the previous result. Reward yourself on each successive days and in case an exception occurs punish yourself. Don’t fight with negative thoughts, just substitute it with positive one, using affirmative statements only, because our mind could not hold two thoughts at a time.
 
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not a act, but a habit.    -Aristotle
 
Next I’ll be discussing about lethal effect of habit: addiction and the procedure to overcome it.

Good and bad are complementary

The wave and particle pictures, or the visual and causal representations, are “complementary” to each other. That is, they are mutually exclusive, yet jointly essential for a complete description of quantum events. The wave function of the unobserved object is a mixture of both the wave and particle pictures until the experimenter chooses what to observe in a given experiment.
-Neils Bohr
 
Good and bad can be treated as the visual and causal representations that are complementary to each other. An unobserved event is a mixture of good and bad untill one chooses what to find out. They are like two poles of magnet which cannot be separated; it doesn’t matter how hard one tries. Good and bad can also be understood in terms of a coin having two sides but only one side is visible at a time; like sides of a coin can be flipped.
 
The conception of the objective reality has thus evaporated not into the cloud of some obscure new reality concept, but into the transparent clarity that represents no longer the behavior but rather our knowledge of this behaviour. It is essentially subjective because the basic reality of the theory is our knowledge. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, there are no facts only interpretations.
 
There is no such thing as absolute truth or universal reality. Reality is contextual or relative, relevant in one situation and irrelevant in others. Albert Einstein opined reality as merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. 
 
The same is true with the terms good and bad that cannot be demarcated. Morphine, a narcotic drug, is considered as curse but for the person suffering from cancer or other severe diseases having unbearable pain morphine as analgesic is a boon. Cutting of hand or leg out of violence in society is bad but same turns out to be good at operation table when doctor do it to save the life of a person. Water, the very essential for living also takes lives in the form of flood.
 
I heard a story of a man who had a horse. One day his horse went somewhere and didn’t return. The man went sad and thought something bad happened. After three months all of a sudden his horse with some other 30 horses returned. He thought good happened. While riding on his horse the man fell down and got severely injured. At the same time war broke out with neighbouring countries and the king wanted every healthy individual to join army and fight for the country. The man due to severe injuries could not join the army and survived because his country was defeated and all the army men were brutually massacred. Now I give up to you to decide; is falling down from the horse and getting severe injuries really bad for that man?
 
Let me give you an example of a legend who in a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers among the leading CEOs for most admired global leader ranked 2nd and is the only one in top 10 list who belonged to corporate world. He is Steve Jobs. He believed in positive outlook of life. In his famous speech delivered at Stanford University, he outlined some incidences of his life which according to others could be considered as worst things that could happen to person such as dropping out of a college in which tuition the entire savings of his parents were spent and firing out of a company which he started at his father’s garage & nurtured from his sweat and blood to such a reputation as of 2 billion$ company with over 4000 staffs launching of Machintosh. But in his statement they are the best things that could ever happen to him because we could have deprived of the beautiful typography of modern computers as they are the result of his drop out from normal classes & joining of calligraphy classes instead and devoid of the first animated feature film ‘Toy story‘, the best animated studio ‘Pixar‘ and the technological renaissance that we witnessed after his return to Apple again as these are the results of developments occured in a company called ‘Next‘ which he formed after his firing from apple.
 
So I would like you to recall your three worst things that happened to you according to yourself and rethink over them that whether are they really worst or somehow helped you in shaping your future? For better result of absorbing this nature of successful person, I recommend to write down on a piece of paper the new opinion that you find out after reconsidering. You can also analyse your day to day deeds at night before sleeping while lay down on bed and waiting to sleep.
 
Bad has no existence and good never ceases to be, the reality of both has been acknowledged by the seekers of success.
Bhagwad Geeta (Chapter II verse 16)