A Simple Question
Something I’ve put more effort into is trying to simplify how I look at and try to understand the world. Instead of overcomplicating things, take the time to consider things through the lens of “less, not more.” In doing this, I’ve learned that most problems can be avoided by asking one simple question before you do anything: “what happens if I do this?”
If done with honest contemplation, the answer to this question will more or less tell you where you will (or could) end up. For example, say you just got paid for some work. “What happens if I go and spend the majority of this on a night out?” Well, you might run the risk of not being able to pay for something more important (like rent or an overdue repair on something), or you might just be short on cash for a bit. If you’ve been well-behaved with your finances up until this point? No harm, no foul.
Through contemplation and visualization, in a lot of situations you can predict what might go wrong and steer clear. For example, a few years back I met someone at a meditation retreat who was incredibly fascinated with psychedelics. Upon learning I lived in Chicago, they suggested “visiting.” Mid-conversation, I realized that spending time with this person could lead down a seriously negative rabbit hole (if you think I’m crazy now…) and so I made a point to not give them my contact information.
The point isn’t the what, but instead, just taking the time to consciously consider whether or not a decision will impact you negatively, either in the short-term or the long-term. In doing this, you’ll find that most mistakes and long-term regrets can be avoided. Over time, if you also make a point to be self-aware, you’ll be able to pre-decide by avoiding situations that lead you to making bad decisions in the first place.
Disclaimer: this doesn’t mean you should go through life being a teetotaler, but instead, when you’re about to fuck up, at least make a point to flip on the headlights and turn the wheel.