by Taylor Cannon
I’ve always struggled with decisiveness. I like to think that this is a side effect of my commitment to seeing and understanding every possible aspect of an issue before making a verdict on it. But, it’s just as likely that this crippling shortcoming is closely related to my tendency towards self doubt and regret. My method of dealing with this is often to skip the deliberation process and jump to a decision before I can fall down a rabbit hole of over-thinking.
As you might imagine, that doesn’t always work out in my favor, and it’s not a trait I’d like to pass onto future generations. Our world is propelled forward each day by big and small decisions, made as individuals or in collaboration with others. In the midst of a global pandemic, a quickly impending climate crisis and rising political tensions, making clear-eyed, informed choices on an appropriate timeline is a serious challenge.
A recent Invisibilia podcast episode on NPR explored the import of size and scale in relation to problem prioritization, and the message was incredibly poignant to me. The human brain is designed to react to threats once they are close enough to register with the senses. Unfortunately, this often means that a problem must be imminent before we take it seriously—and by then, it may be too late.
Many of the difficulties that we’re collectively facing today are great examples of this. I can remember hearing about the Novel Coronavirus spreading through Asia back in early February of 2020. There were rumors of the sometimes-deadly virus making its way through the rest of the world, and murmurs about the disastrous impact that this event could have on the daily lives of Americans. But it didn’t register as a real threat until that first case appeared in Washington state, sending swaths of the nation into a panic over a microscopic organism that we knew very little about. When people in our own communities began to get sick, we were finally provoked to react.
The same can be said for the problem of climate change, or humanitarian atrocities in foreign countries. These disasters seem far away, practically existing within a different reality from our own, until we’re faced with their impacts directly. They are too large for us as individuals to be able to examine and appreciate proactively...unless we make a conscious, collective effort to initiate change before a problem becomes wholly unavoidable.
To start, it’s helpful to center our priorities on our core values. This ensures that our choices come from the essence of ourselves and keeps us on track to be successful in what matters most to us. Some of your values might be to keep your children as physically and mentally healthy as possible, so that they’re given the very best shot at a meaningful, joyful life. You can incorporate that big goal into the small choices that must be made, like how much of your daily budget is allocated to buying healthy groceries, or how much time is given to spending time outside as a family. Your kids will passively notice what your priorities are, and follow your lead in mindfully planning for what’s truly important to them in their own lives.
Conversations with our kids around the decision making process can be as simple as urging them to consider their sources of information in casual conversation. Rumors are not truths unless they have been verified, and it’s important to show children that fact in action. Effective decision makers are able to consider a variety of viewpoints before passing judgement; the ability to hold consider multiple ideas in one’s mind prior to taking a side is invaluable. It’s possible for multiple truths to coexist, and we must remember that when deciding how to proceed.
As we raise the next generation of adults who will inevitably need to cope with and solve some of our greatest threats to humanity yet, it’s essential that we give them the skills to deal with impending issues decisively and thoughtfully. To do this, the first step is to demonstrate this kind of decision making ourselves—first by rooting our choices in our core values as often as possible, and then by finding trusted sources of information on which to base our choices.
Taylor Cannon writes a blog for Grandrabbit’s Toy Shoppes. This piece was originally posted on Grandrabbit’s Toy Shoppe’s blog, Play Matters which is located at www.playmattersgrandrabbits.com. Play Matters is an outlet for Grandrabbit’s to further its mission of nurturing the hearts, minds and bodies of children. The blog aims to cultivate a thoughtful community in which to discuss ideas and perspectives with the goal of bringing up healthy, happy, confident and engaged kids.