Ups and Downs 

When we think of ups and downs, we think of roller coasters and.. Life. The periodic ups and downs is probably one of the constants of life and it is true that what goes up must come down, and vice versa. We will all have smooth rides and rough patches, albeit at varying lengths for different people throughout their lifetimes. These highs and lows can occur at any aspect of life, be it in areas of financial, emotional, psychological or otherwise. 

To a lesser extent, I think these peaks and rock bottoms occur on a daily basis as well, where our emotions can fluctuate in great degrees (whether due to a conscious reason or not). We can be happy in the morning, uptight in the afternoon, and probably end the day on a high at night. With this came the theory and study of a base level of happiness for individuals, where one with a higher base level experience more satisfaction and joy in life without external stimulus or reason. It is something inherited and at genetic level, and hardly within control. It is like our default mood, where some can be perpetually positive while others sulk all the time. 

What I’m trying to drive across today really is that we need to tide through the lows and seek to bounce back to the highs. We inevitably get sad or discontented, but it is important that we do damage management and let allow our emotional state and state of mind to affect our decisions or harm our relationships with others. It is crucial that we take a step back when things are tough and not buckle in the face of emotional challenges. 

Find your friends, seek your happiness pill (i don’t mean drugs; I mean the person or thing that lift your spirits), do the things that make you happy, go exercise, listen to your favourite Beatles or Queen song, have an ice cream.. Yank yourself out of the depressive state and things will look up sooner than you expect. Positivity attracts good things, and the reverse is true for negativity. 

Remember, chin up when things get tough.. It’s not that you’ll drown a little slower, it’s that you’ll be out of the water soon enough if you can survive the initial onslaught. 

Have a good evening everyone!

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The Art (and Science) of Decision Making 

I picked up a couple of books on philosophy and psychology awhile back from the local library and I came across a chapter on decision making. While we do know vaguely how decisions are made (or at least, how we make them), I don’t think the majority of us would delve into the technicalities of how we reach certain choices or how we make up our minds. I didn’t manage to read a single sentence from that chapter the night I chanced upon it; just the chapter heading (“How We Make Our Decisions”) itself got me thinking already.

When faced with two or more options, we are likely forced to, or would instinctively, make a choice or decision between the various options. Whether it be between a pair of Adidas and Nike sports shoes, or choosing between different political viewpoints, or even between two tomatoes to pick up at the supermarket.. We all have to make decisions every single day. (Just staying alive is a decision in itself.) It is possibly the most important thing we do everyday, and we sure do a lot of it.

There are many levels in this seemingly simple process. The first level that we consciously or subconsciously make our decisions on is called instinct, or better known as intuition. Something inside us tells us that A makes more sense than B, and choosing A is definitely a better idea than B. It is something that operates on a subconscious level and it makes the decision something that is not deliberated by a conscious thought process. This level is usually the determinant in urgent situations where the decision to act (just to act, or act in a certain way) is made within a spilt second that offers little time for thought, such as whether to dive and push someone out of danger, or whether to pull the trigger or not. 

In less pressing situations with more space and time to think, our rational minds become a larger factor in the decision-making process. We tend to consider various external factors such as the circumstances surrounding the decision, as well as the possible short and long term repurcussions that could result from making the choice. Depending on your personality, you may either consider first the short or long run. Spontaneous and outgoing personalities tend to consider the short run as more crucial, while individuals who prefer planning and are generally more systematic and meticulous (and likely more reserved) would see the long term as more important. 

It’s something like voting for Party A because they dangle a carrot of cash incentives and rebates (short run) over Party B which offers long term solutions to possible problems (long run) which could occur in the future (maybe like providing an alternate voice in government), and vice versa depending which you consider more important. This example shows it the short and long runs form the bedrock of whether you choose instant gratification, or delayed gratification. Of course, this is very general because most of the time the short run interest and long run interest coincide, where the short run benefit over time leads to the long run (economically, we live in the short run and I quote, ‘in the long run we are all dead’ (Keynes)). Economic theory aside, deciding and planning for the future is still inevitably important.

That being said, there are definitely many other factors that contribute to the process of decision making. Our emotions make up a huge chunk of this process, as how an angry person loses most of his rationality while a sad person tends to make a random decision given his emotional state. The process is also influenced by the words of others, whether it be by friendly advice or political directives or so many other possibilities. Circumstances certainly play a critical role as well.

As we have discussed, there are so many factors that affect our decisions (whether directly or indirectly) that we have to know which factor is most important to that decision. Now that we know a few of these factors, we can thus consider if one of these factors (say, emotions) is overbearing on our ability to make a sound decision. We thus have to balance all these factors out before we put our finger and mind on one of the various options facing us. 

Now that we have done some thinking, I think it is time for me to start reading the chapter on Decisions. I guess we pretty much have control over how we decide and what choices we make.. Unless we believe in predestination and fate, which would effectively remove us of our free will and our ability to choose. That however, is a story for another day. 

Til next time, have fun with making decisions!

Crossroads

Sometimes we are led to crossroads
With a left and a right down each side:
Paths which lead on to the unknown
Where the destinations are purposefully out of sight;

We cannot know where each will take us to and
We cannot tell how the journeys would be but
One thing we can be sure of is that
We can only head down one of the two pathways;

How do we make up our minds at crossroads?
.
.
.

I have a feeling they lead eventually to the same end point.

Everyone Needs A Best Friend

(My apologies for not writing anything for a long time; military life is indeed very time consuming and leaves little time even for rest. With whatever little space I have to myself during the weekdays, I have not been able to squeeze in space for any writing so let’s see what comes up on a Saturday morning at seven yeah? Have fun everyone, it’s the weekends!)

All of us do get stuck at one point or another:
Points where our compasses swing in all directions and our watches tell a foreign time,
Times when our hearts and minds are not facing the same direction,
Scenes where we stand rooted at the spot with brewing anxiety and unease;

Then the nightmares set in:
We get recurring dreams of getting lost or running away,
Like a reflection of reality we cannot find our bearings or escape fast enough,
Yet we really do not know what we truly are finding or getting away from;

Stop.
Where has our clarity of mind vanished to?
What has become of the answers to our enquiring prayers?
When is it time for us to get a grip and turn around to face our fears?

I invite you now to reach out your hand and hold on to this person:
This individual in your life whom you can call when you’re feeling scared at three a.m,
This someone whom you seek advice from when faced with diverging paths,
This person whom you ask out for a cup of coffee when you’re feeling down;

I believe this is the very hand that will
Ease your fears and warm your heart when the thunders roar at night,
Take your hand and walk with you along one of the paths all the way to the end,
Bring a smile to your face and lift your spirits when things head downhill;

If at this point you realize that this piece of writing is disjointed and messy,
Do not worry for I can summarise one and twenty lines into a single line,
Presented on a platter with a colon and a space in between:

Everyone needs a best friend.

Space and Shoe Box

(Just 5 minutes before bed)

I don’t want to even imagine how you
Just severed ties with him when the relationship ended
Leaving him without a final message or a last letter
Choosing to just disappear totally from his life entirely;

It did appear like he chose to move on and push you aside
So you did likewise to move on and leave the memories behind
Like a locked away space somewhere in the depths of your heart
You chose to put that affair away and take it like it happened – never;

A blank space on your side and a shoe box on his:
What happened between you two became nothing more (to you) than an emptiness
While what took place between the two hearts became little more (to him) than
A shoe box of little messages and cards that contains a paleness of yesterday;

I am not sure what is filling the blank space of your heart right now,
Neither am I sure what is filling the shoe box of his memories there now;

His last attempt to fill up the space once again and add to the shoe box once more.

Ahead

(5 minute challenge let’s go)

A conflict or so it seems between contrasting ambitions,
One which within the system a person shall rise in the charge of others,
The other without a structure will see the individual rise within his own charge,
Both equally rewarding yet possibly dangerous paths to head down;

Do you remember the times when we made our decisions together,
Where at crossroads we discuss and come to a choice like one mind,
And with it we walk down the path and look back not for a moment,
Believing instead that what we decide together is what it ought to be;

As it goes: ‘Present mirth hath present laughter,
What’s to come is still unsure’,
So good night everyone sleep tight,
And while we’re at it let’s not let the bed bugs bite.

A Choice of The Finest

(5 minute challenge let’s go)

The offers stream in with a variety of colours and emblems,
Like a smooth flow they come in from all over the world,
Presenting happy dilemmas of Boston Coventry or Exeter,
Pondering over a few weeks what will shape
The new few years and possibly next few decades of our lives;

The offers come with strings attached of three As or two with one B,
Looking at them thinking ‘wow that doesn’t look very hard’,
Or maybe considering ‘hmm can I fulfil the conditionalities?’
But knowing too that it still does hinge upon the results that are to come (and go);

Pretty exciting are the prospects that look us in the eye,
A set of university names and future to come that creates a happy problem for us all,
Leaving us scratching our heads as we sip on our tea thinking of what is to come,
Oh such dilemmas testing our decision-making and tugging at our excitable hearts!

But frankly:
Are we all not secretly (or openly) happy to have such choices placed in front of us?