How to make difficult decisions

Throughout our life, we make decisions, consciously or unconsciously, about what to eat, what to read, whom to spend time with. Some decisions are far more consequential for us than others: what career to pursue, which job to take, whom to choose as a life-partner. 

And if we are in responsible positions, the consequences of our actions extend beyond us to our family members and our social circles. The more responsible our position, the more consequential our decisions become. For example, in today’s world, the decision of the head of state about how to deal with a pandemic can affect the lives and livelihoods of thousands, millions or even billions. 

The Bhagavad-gita begins with a similarly consequential decision: the upcoming war would take a toll running into millions, with further repercussions extending over several generations. Understandably, Arjuna was filled with agony (01.30) and reduced to paralysis (02.06). Till he turned to Krishna in despair, seeking to know dharma, the right thing to do (02.07). 

Significantly, the Gita didn’t focus on the specifics of the external situation. Undoubtedly, such specifics need due consideration, which was done earlier in the Mahabharata in its Udyoga-Parva, the section that precedes the section containing the Gita, the Bhishma-parva

The Gita focused more on inner motivation: on understanding the various levels of our inner world; on unmasking the various kinds of desires, interests, passions; and on elevating our aspirations to a higher level of selflessness and spirituality. By such elevation of our consciousness, we can gain access to higher wisdom from within (10.10). Guided with such wisdom, when we deliberate deeply about the things that matter the most to us (18.63), we can decide with greater clarity, composure and confidence (18.73).

One-sentence summary:

To make better decisions, we need to not just analyze our outer situations, but also elevate our inner motivations. 

Think it over:

  • To appreciate how consequential how decisions can be, list three decisions that significantly altered your life. 
  • How does the Gita help in decision-making?
  • Consider any consequential decision you need to take. How can Gita wisdom assist you?


18.63: Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.

Author: Chaitanya Charan

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