Small Choices, Internal and External, Lead to Big Effects

It’s after work, and you have choices about what to do. Do you have dessert, check social media, workout, meditate, or something else? These small daily choices can actually have big effects, something described by Darren Hardy as “The Compound Effect,” in which consistent small choices, when compounded over time, lead to significant outcomes.

It seems obvious that if choose to workout a few days a week rather than watch TV, you health will be better. Moreover, it makes sense that if you spend an hour reading a book rather than checking social media, you will have more in depth knowledge on ideas.

In my view, the most significant choices we make are inside, about how we keep our mind

When we think about choices, we usually imagine choices about things outside of us, for instance about what to have for lunch or what type of phone to buy. However, we also have choice about how we incline our minds. I made decisions to incline the mind toward positivity rather than negativity and to see things more in the proportion I’d like them to have, rather than allowing the mind to blow things out of proportion.

For example, rather than casting blame outward (negativity) when someone spreads trash outside my garage, I take full responsibility for everything that happens to me (positivity). I clean up the trash. A central part of inclining the mind toward positivity means focusing on gratitude and uprooting aversion. As far as seeing things in the proportions I’d prefer, I keep in mind, for example, that my dog barking at other dogs and people walking by is just not a big deal. It’s part of life; that my dog is protecting us is actually a little thing I can have gratitude for.

Present moment awareness for inclining the mind toward positivity

Another aspect of inclining the mind toward positivity is reminding myself that our freedom, our presence is already here now. Studies have found that mindfulness meditation can improve our decision making. Present moment awareness is the authentic marker of positivity. Worrying about the future with anxious thoughts or regretting the past are unpleasant, negative states of mind. In the present moment, things are usually okay.

Small external and internal choices we make can lead to significant outcomes. My view is that the most important choices we make are actually internal, about how we keep our minds. If we choose positivity, which hinges on gratitude and uprooting aversion, we automatically make better external choices. Acting out of aversion (fear, not liking) rarely leads to beneficial outcomes. Acting out of gratitude, out of love, out of generosity, out of joy, leads to beneficial outcomes.

If one speaks or acts with a wicked mind, because of that, pain follows one. If one speaks or acts with a good mind, because of that, happiness follows one.

The Dhammapada

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Presence is Here Now