Making Decisions Following Buddhist Principles

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Decision-making is one of the toughest things in life, albeit in varying degrees. Some people are decisive to the extent we think they were born that way – and perhaps they were. For some people, however, making a decision can be an excruciating process. Often, the process takes too long that a decision is not made at all.

Or, the power of decision is taken away.

[tweetthis url=””]When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice. – William James, American philosopher and psychologist[/tweetthis]

Sit there and listen to the thoughts in the echo chamber that is your head, and you’ll end up not making a decision – with someone else (or life in general) making the decision for you.

Isn’t it better to be in control of a decision, being responsible for it, rather than being passive and just let life go by? I like what American writer and feminist Rita Mae Brown says about making a decision, no matter what it is.

[tweetthis url=””]A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one. – Rita Mae Brown[/tweetthis]

But it’s easy to read these quotes. Actually having to go through the process of making a decision is still a different story. At least for me.

That being said, I’ve been trying to improve on this aspect. There are many ways to approach decision-making and learn how to make a choice within a reasonable amount of time. You can even go the business way by doing SWOT analysis, but what I find most interesting – and show most potential to be effective – is “Buddhist decision-making”, or rather, applying Buddhist principles to the decision-making process.

Here’s my take on how to make decisions following some Buddhist principles.

Settle into a state of mindfulness

buddhist decision making

Mindfulness is an oft-talked about concept, although its practice may not be consistent. To make things easier to absorb, consider mindfulness as being aware of yourself, the situation, and the decision to be made.

Mindfulness: Choosing How to Think and Act

Being aware of yourself means identifying how you feel – physically, emotionally, and mentally. What is your body and soul telling you? By paying attention to these things, your intuition will probably come into play, which is already a step toward making a decision. Even more importantly, by consciously taking a close look at the state of your body and mind, you don’t let your thoughts run amok. You don’t panic, and you stay in control.

Once you’ve settled into this state, you can now identify what it is that you need to decide. Often, decision-making becomes complicated when it is not clear what decision needs to be made. When you’re fully aware of the situation and are able to identify your options, then you can take the next step.

Assess your options

This activity falls under the concept of mindfulness since you are immersing yourself in the situation and facing the issue head on. You are choosing to think about and weigh your options in an informed manner.

Do your research, much like doing homework. Now that you are clear regarding your options, it is best to take time to assess them. Just because you know what your options are doesn’t mean you should close your eyes, jump, and hope for the best.

Ask these questions:

  • How important is this decision?
  • What will happen if I choose option 1 (or 2)?
  • Do I have to deal with this decision now, or can it wait a few more weeks (or months)? This is important because you may be stressing over something that can wait or, on the other hand, you may be avoiding making a decision that needs to be dealt with ASAP.

Having the answers to these questions will give you a clearer perspective.

Make the decision, and let go

At this point, it is up to you to summon the strength and courage to make the decision. It may be easy, thanks to the points above. It may still be one of the most difficult things to do. But you do have it in you to make that decision. The biggest question may be “When?”

When you’re truly ready, however, you will make that decision. You may or may not live to regret it, but one thing is for sure: you are only going to stress yourself out if you keep obsessing about whether it’s the right decision or not.

Once you’ve made that decision. Let go. It’s done. Again, go back to the main principle of mindfulness.

I leave you with this.

[tweetthis url=””]The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live, and that is the present moment. – Gautama Buddha[/tweetthis]

You might also like: Life lessons from Buddhism

2 thoughts on “Making Decisions Following Buddhist Principles

  1. Seriously, not making a decision and being passive about the things is as well one of the decision made. Decision to avoid, ignore.

    It’s tough, to made decision, and one could not gain everything, decision is there to choose which is priority, and let go something in return too.

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