Mind Matters: Considering life's decisions

Choosing the adventure: Moving to Australia is a life-changing decision for some.
Choosing the adventure: Moving to Australia is a life-changing decision for some.

We think with distaste of bad decisions we made. Hitler decided to invade Poland. I bought an MG Midget.

Along with our bad decisions are many good decisions. One of my best decisions was to move to Australia to take an academic position at the University of New England.

I made that decision 17 years ago, and I have benefitted ever since. I get raises at work; students treat me with great respect; I live a safe, exciting life. I understand why people from all over the world want to move to Australia.

I asked my university students to name their best decisions. They mentioned travelling or living overseas, getting married or unmarried, facing their fears, changing careers, and going on with their education. They identified getting new perspectives as the big payoff for travelling or living overseas.

I asked my friends also to name their best decisions. One mentioned deciding to take her driving exam after putting it off for many years. Deciding to overcome paralysing fears can be hugely rewarding.

Another friend mentioned pressing her physicians to add chemotherapy to surgery and radiation for a deadly cancer. Beating the Grim Reaper is also highly rewarding.

A poetic friend said her best decision was “to embrace life, accepting the not so good but swimming in the wonderful”.

No one I asked mentioned excellent decisions relating to investments or buying things – I do not know why. Maybe no one I know had the Forrest Gump genius to buy Apple stock for peanuts. Or maybe acquiring things does not matter that much.

When I decided to leave an academic position in the US to come to Australia, news in my Florida community was about murdered women being found in abandoned suitcases. Long after I left, a colleague at the university where I had worked told me she had not received a raise in over a decade.

Was I smart or lucky to make the decision to leave? Maybe both.

As I reflect on my good decision, I can see what I learned from the good outcome: to make bold decisions – to take a chance. I sometimes smile when I think of my decision to move to Australia.

Do we celebrate enough our good decisions?

At times, I think back to my ancestors who were bold enough to leave Lebanon and move to the US. Going way back, I imagine that my ancestors made the decision to move from somewhere to the land now called Lebanon. Those were big, bold decisions.

What are your lifetime-best decisions? Were you smart or lucky? What did you learn from the positive results of those decisions?