Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

Do you have trouble making decisions? Is a decision as simple as what to eat for dinner or which movie to see enough to send your head spinning? Do you second-guess your decisions immediately after you make them and wish you could turn back the clock and do something different?

Indecisiveness is a common problem and one I’ve suffered from tremendously over the years. I have driven myself crazy when wrestling with all types of decisions, from the large to the seemingly insignificant. I have wasted countless hours in weighing pros and cons and wracking my brain to make the “right decision,” and I have lost out on things I’ve wanted by taking too long to make up my mind.

I recently listened to a broadcast of Dennis Prager’s Happiness Hour on the topic of indecision. Both Dennis and his callers presented some powerful points on this important topic which have made a difference in the way I approach decisions in my life. This post highlights some of these key points and I hope it will help you to combat the perils of indecision.

Have you ever heard of the term, “Debbie Downer”? This term, based upon a fictional “Saturday Night Live” character, refers to a person who is frequently negative and complaining, thus bringing down the mood of everyone around her. Sadly, I have to admit that I can be this person at times, and since my name is Debbie, that makes it even worse!

I don’t mean to complain a lot, but there are times when I catch myself spouting out all kinds of negativity. At least I catch myself more often these days, but I am still dismayed when I realize I am whining and complaining. My husband gets the worst of it, and this normally very tolerant man has been known to lose his patience with me on occasion. Yesterday was one of those times, which is what has prompted me to write this post. I will look at why we complain, when it’s okay, and how to reform our tendency to gripe and moan.

This message is a cautionary tale from a longtime “worrywart” (or as my father-in-law used to say, “worryhorse”). I have wasted many hours and sacrificed endless enjoyment by worrying about all sorts of things, most of which never came to pass. It is my hope that my insights today will help other worriers to reform their ways and in turn increase their happiness in life.

I recently listened to an episode of the Happiness Hour from radio talk show host, Dennis Prager. The focus of this hour was on worrying, so I knew I needed to listen carefully. Unlike many people who have “blind spots” in terms of their weaknesses, I knew full well how much of a detriment my habitual worrying was to my life and my happiness.

Dennis Prager stated that there are two powerful reasons to break the habit of worrying:

1. Most of what we worry about never comes to pass.
2. When one is worrying about what might happen, it is impossible for him to be happy in that moment.

About a month ago, my neighbor of 2.5 years was taken to the hospital in the middle of the afternoon. He never returned… I since learned that he has terminal brain cancer and is living out his final days in a local hospital. I had passed him in the hallway many times, but had only uttered a quick “hello” to him before continuing on my way. I never took the time to get to know him, or vice versa.

I don’t really know any of my neighbors. We pass each other on occasion, sometimes smiling, sometimes nodding, but rarely interrupting our busy schedules to take the time to get to know each other. We all have more important things to do, it seems.

I have close to 200 Facebook friends, but very few people I can honestly call real friends, and even fewer with whom I connect on a deep level. We have more and more ways to connect with others through the advances in technology, but the level of connection that is happening is becoming increasingly superficial. All of the technology in the world can’t change the fact that we are growing more and more socially isolated in our society. Loneliness is becoming the biggest epidemic in our country, even bigger than cancer, AIDS, or heart disease.

Today’s post focuses on a concept introduced by author Dennis Prager in his book, “Happiness is a Serious Problem.” I highly recommend this book as a concise and extremely informative book on the often elusive subject of happiness. Dennis presents a number of life-changing philosophies in his book, but one of the best is the concept of the “missing tile syndrome.”
Imagine this Scenario…

Imagine that you are in a dentist’s office having your teeth cleaned and are thus focused on the ceiling above you. As you glance around the room, you notice that one of the ceiling tiles is missing. Although the majority of the ceiling is pristine and perfect, you would likely be transfixed upon that one missing tile for the remainder of your visit.

As human beings, we have a tendency to focus on what is missing instead of on what is present. That is fine for ceilings, as they can be perfect. The danger is when we apply the same focus and filter to our lives…