A funeral eulogy is a belated plea for the defense delivered after the evidence is all in.
Irvin S. Cobb
We all desire to make good choices. And of course the question is how. Logic would dictate that the more information we have the better the decision making process. Before we pull the trigger we desire clarity that we are doing the right thing. The trap we need to be cognizant of is that we have a tendency to justify indecisiveness with the plea that more information is needed. Often action has to precede clarity and courage is required to step into the unknown. To me, it’s very comforting that the die isn’t always cast in decision making, adjustments can be made and outcomes can be tweaked. Never forget the always present possibility of choice; a feeling of hopelessness can lead to indifference and depression. The status quo must be constantly challenged with the question – is this what I really want or am I settling and justifying with a series of lame rationalizations. Rationalizations are interesting creatures. I like Ayn Rand’s take on rationalization – “Rationalization is process of not perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions ”. Rationalizations can be comforting in the short term (it’s no fun to face harsh realities or painful truths), but most forms of denial lead to an unsatisfying existence. To me rationalizations can be an obstacle to personal growth or a source of humor. One might say that an “excuse” is a lie we tell others and a “rationalization is a lie we tell ourselves”. Here are a couple of examples that I find humorous:
- The red wine is doing wonders for my cholesterol.
- We’re all going to die of something.
- She’s probably cheating on me, too.
- Lobsters don’t feel pain.
- If I were in the hospital, I wouldn’t want a bunch of people bothering me.
- Skipping one day of exercise isn’t going to kill me.
We can use rationalizations and various excuses to justify inertia and laziness. Many see wealthy or successful people and ask “yes, but are they really happy”. I suspect many are happy. At least they are happier than they would be if they were poor and unsuccessful.