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Day 32: Petrol or water?

November 15, 2023

We all recognise the big choices in our lives – the ones where we pick which house to buy, which partner to marry, whether to start a business…

But how many of us recognise the tiny moments where we make choices each day?

I was listening to the Feel Better, Live More podcast with guest, Shane Parrish, and he was talking about how the majority of our decisions go by without us registering them – we choose the life partner but pay no attention to the little moments where we bite their heads off about the dishwasher or who forgot to hang out the washing.

We think the big moments shape our lives but really it’s the little ones that determine how many big ones we get – and what happens after we get them.

Shane gave a great analogy – if we froze time just before the argument was about to kick off and asked you, “would you rather throw gasoline or water onto this situation?” Most people would choose water and calm things right down again – yet, the absence of thought often makes us choose the petrol.

How this relates to joy

I’ve gotten better at spotting these moments and pausing to choose the direction but I still have a long way to go.

The visual of petrol or water is helpful though. It makes the choice feel more tangible and turns that moment into the choice between “blowing things up” and “calming things down”. Before this, my attention was more likely to go inward, to focus on what I was feeling and thinking. This helps my mind turn outwards and asks, “what impact do you want to have here?”

I imagine the more choices I make in the direction of ‘water’, the more opportunities I have to listen, learn, understand and let go – as these are generally the skills and traits associated with that path.

I’ve already seen how vital these are to the experience and expression of joy so I’m banking this little visual for the next time I risk bringing petrol to the party!

Let’s see how it goes…

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