Monday, 14 October 2013

The Little Decisions Count


C.S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis wrote, "Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.”

There is great wisdom in this quote from C.S. Lewis as there is in much of what he has written. In reality our days are comprised of hundreds of decisions, most of them seem to be of little consequence.  Often those decisions only affect us.  But just as often our decision to do or not to do a certain thing or how we go about doing it affects a member of our family or a co-worker.

On the positive side of the ledger when we intentionally make a decision that is other-centered, i.e. we put the needs of someone else ahead of ourselves, even the littlest gesture, will most likely pay huge dividends later on.  Other-centeredness is more of a mindset, i.e. a way of life that enables us to consistently put someone else’s wellbeing ahead of our own.  To the extent that we even do what might be considered trivial by some but do it for the benefit of another we are exponentially increasing our the value of “emotional stock” with that person.

We might bring our wives a cup of coffee as she is getting ready in the morning.  We might empty the dishwasher as she is preparing breakfast. We might help make the bed or assist in getting the children ready for school.  Little gestures that convey to our wives that we understand how much they get done all day and that we as husbands appreciate it.

John Gottman
John Gottman, the pre-eminent clinical psychologist dealing with marriage, suggests that for a healthy marriage we should maintain a ratio of five positive interactions to every one negative one.

However just as our “stock” rises in value as we attempt to be considerate it can just as easily decrease as we neglect to take out the garbage which our wife constantly has to remind us to do.  The fact that we might leave clothes laying all over the bedroom instead of picking them up was a conscious decision, thus treating our wife    as though she were a maid.

These are silly little examples of tasks, chores, and thoughtful gestures that we choose to do or not do.  It is my opinion that many marriages that begin to stagnate do so because of the negative things we do and say and/or the lack of positive interventions.  As Lewis suggests the negative things grow at an exponential rate and when not offset by positive deeds a marriage is headed for trouble.

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