Right or wrong? How one simple question could change your life.

I get frustrated easily. I have a shorter fuse than I would care to admit to. I frequently make bad decisions, though don’t we all? Nothing major – just those daily decisions I make that aren’t ridiculously important but can affect my mood. The decisions where it’s usually easier to take what I know is the less preferable of two options but I still take it. In isolation, those decisions don’t make much of an impact on my life. However, if it’s a day where I’ve made 5 or 6 of those decisions, it can significantly affect my mood and state of mind.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve stumbled upon a method which is genuinely helping me to make less of those poor decisions and it’s a ridiculously easy way of putting myself in a better frame of mind(most of the time). That method is simply to pause for a second or two and ask myself ‘is this right or wrong?’ Doing this prevents me from making snap decisions – that vital second or two is often all that is required to make the right decision. I’ve already used this in a number of situations, including:

Straying toward the biscuit cupboard:

Or the crisp box, or the freezer tray containing the ice lollies, or the jam jar when I make some toast. Like a fly gently floating toward a blue light insect killer, these no-go zones in the kitchen have an inexplicable hold over me. They draw me in, against my will. I engage auto-pilot in the evening and without even realising I’m doing it. I suddenly end up frantically upending the cupboard in a desperate search for sweet treats, like a pig snuffling for truffles. However, if I have the strength of mind to stop, ask myself ‘is this right or wrong’ and think for a few seconds, I nearly always leave the food alone and go to bed on an empty stomach, which is always the right thing to do (for me, at least).

Driving frustrations:

I feel quite ashamed to admit it but I am terrible for losing my temper whilst driving. I get angry at people not using indicators, people driving too fast, people not acknowledging when I stop and let them through a tight space, and people choosing the wrong lane then cutting others up when they could actually have waited a few seconds rather than being impatient. The list goes on and on and despite being calm in most areas of my life, it is a different story when I’m behind the wheel. It shouldn’t be, as it’s completely out of my control, but it does. I recall a favourite quote which I should try to remember more at times like these:

If you had £86,400 and someone stole £10, would you throw £86,390 away for revenge? Or move on and live? See, you have 86,400 seconds each day. Don’t let someone’s negative 10 seconds ruin the remaining 84,390. Life is bigger than that, and so are you.

Quite profound, isn’t it? Yet it’s so easy to forget this during day-to-day life. However, trying to remember this, and asking myself ‘right or wrong?’ before I’m about to launch into a mid-journey rant, is working for me.

Having a lie-in:

I am an early-riser, so this rarely applies, though there are times when I wake up feeling more tired than when I went to bed. If this is during the weekend, it can often be tempting to simply turn over for another hour or two. But, yet again, this is a decision which can heavily affect my mood. If I do this, it’s a racing certainty that I’ll spend the rest of the day kicking myself (proverbially speaking) for having wasted half the morning and subsequently playing catch-up on the things that I want to do. Again, asking ‘right or wrong?’ has been the prompt I need to get my backside into gear and haul myself out of bed.

Avoiding exercise:

I’ve gotten into exercise again over the past 3-6 months or so, from walking to home exercise such as hitting the rowing machine, doing a set number of stomach crunches each day, and using weights and kettlebells. However, as with most other things in life, there are days when just getting started can feel like a real bind – like the mother of all challenges. It would be so ridiculously easy on days such as these to convince myself that I’m due an additional rest day and to not bother. Again, asking ‘right or wrong?’ on these days is usually all the motivation I need to get started. And, as Joe Wicks says in two quotes I really like, ‘we need to be exercising for our mental health more than ever’, and ‘stop telling yourself reasons not to exercise and remind yourself how good you’ll feel afterwards and how much more energy you’ll have.’

Alcohol:

If you’ve read any other recent blog posts of mine, chances are you’ll know that I’ve barely drunk alcohol since May 2020 – probably 8 separate occasions at most, with a handful of those having only been a single drink. I’m not teetotal, and will drink when I feel it’s ok to do so, though not drinking is currently working really well for me, for a number of reasons (please trawl back through previous posts if you’d like to know why, particularly this one). Bizarrely, I’ve completely lost the taste for my previous drinks of choice (‘decent’ lager and ales), possibly as I’ve gotten so used to the non-alcoholic options, but I do find myself occasionally thinking that I should try a couple, just to see if I can like them as much as I used to. Deep down though, I know this isn’t a good option for me. On those occasions, stopping and asking ‘right or wrong’ will hopefully lead me to make a decision that’s better for both my physical and mental health.

Swearing:

I do swear like a docker at times. I don’t apologise for this – I’m sure most of us do and I’m reminded of a wonderful Billy Connolly quote: ”A lot of people say that it’s a lack of vocabulary that makes you swear. Rubbish. I know thousands of words but I still prefer ‘f**k’ ”. That really resonates with me, though I do get conscious at times that I swear too much. This is probably the hardest habit to break on this list as it is usually so instantaneous, but I’m trying. Sometimes the ‘right or wrong’ question works though not always, not least because quite often I think that swearing is the right thing to do and the best way of expressing myself!

Losing my temper, especially with those I love:

Please tell me that we’ve all been here? A crappy day at work; feeling run down and tired, not having the energy to do anything other than slouch in front of the tv for an evening, and getting narked with the most innocuous little things, leading to having a short temper and snapping at those we live with for no good reason at all? I hate it when this happens but sometimes it is seemingly so unavoidable. The ‘right or wrong’ question can help, as clearly doing this is inherently wrong, but when I’m in this position, I can snap in an instant. ‘Right or wrong’ doesn’t help in these instances though I usually know when I’m in this mood, if that makes sense? I know I’m irritable, I know I shouldn’t be, yet I know I’m a pressure cooker waiting to blow. It’s at these times, when I sense it brewing, that I try to ask myself if it’s right or wrong. In doing so, the voice inside my head usually tells me to sort myself out and stop being such an arse…

It’s early stages yet but so far, this is a technique which is working for me. Not all the time, but more often than not. If you’re conscious that you constantly make poor decisions, why not give it a go? There’s little to lose and it might just change your life…

As always, thanks for reading, stay safe, and please do try to be kind to others and to yourself.

Best wishes and take care.

Mick

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.