With all of the decisions, we all face daily, learning the principle of discernment is a must. Well, that is if we seek to live in a way that both challenges us and harmonizes with our own personal moralities.
Let’s look a little deeper into the principle of discernment to see why it is so important. As well as to seek ways to better our lives with it.
A Life Without Discernment.
A life without discernment is a life without any sort of personal guidance system. It is a life of having whatever bodily impulse that comes to the surface to find it’s way into reality. The Buddha said that “the root of all suffering is ignorance of the causes of suffering.” This suffering that a lack of discernment can bring is no small thing.
I believe that the philosopher Plato would very much agree with Buddha’s quote above. Since he penned his teacher Socrates to say that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” A life that is not well thought out is guided by our own ignorance and trailed by the regret of wasted time, energy and unnecessary suffering.
I do believe there is some attractiveness in not having to think deeply about the decisions we make. Maybe a sense of freedom arises from dreaming of a life where our decisions are magically made for us. But that sense of freedom is a fantasy. Granted, we should allow ourselves some freedom to quit thinking about the next decisions we have to make. We generally aren’t made for obsessively examining every detail of the next situation that life brings us. We need breaks, relaxation, and possible vacations. But refusal or unawareness of the need to practice discernment for too long can push us into undesired situations.
What is Discernment?
An Oxford dictionary definition for discernment is ” the ability to judge well.”
Now when I think of the word discernment, I think of decision making. More precisely, I think of being able to judge whether one decision is better than another. And on that note, which decision it is best for us as individuals to act on at the moment. There is a difference between discernment and decision making itself. Discernment is a principle that guides our bodily impulses down a life path that best fits us as individuals. The quality of a decision is based on the level of discernment we use. Our abilities to discern, are based on the level of our expertise.
The principle of discernment is a beautiful thing, though it is not necessarily an easy principle to develop. The principle is developed through learned experience. Through experience, important faculties develop for building our ability to discern well. First of all as we go through life taking risks, whether we fail or succeed, we learn. We learn the ins and outs of the specific areas in which we are taking the risk, developing expertise. Secondly, we learn more about what we are interested in in the first place. We come to learn more about ourselves, our tastes, our passions, and the areas that are most worth our time and energy. By taking risks, experimenting with our creative impulses intelligently and learning from these experiences we can become experts in living our own lives.
Becoming Discerning Individuals for Guiding Our Lives Well.
Above is stated that “our abilities to discern, are based on the level of our expertise.” This happens to apply to any area of life in which we choose to spend our lives developing. For example, your level of expertise in race car driving will guide the decisions you can make on the race track. Now if you don’t know much about race car driving you might not know how to discern what a good decision is on the race track. The same goes for any area of life.
A racecar driver’s expertise helps them discern better decisions on the track, no doubt. Under the same logic, the more bits of information we understand about ourselves, the better guides we can be for the direction of our own lives. Allowing us to take more intelligent risks, and more intelligently use all resources at our disposal.
Here are some tips for developing discernment, so we can effectively be positive guides for the direction of our own lives.
Doing Self Due-Diligence.
Due-Diligence is about doing our own research. We should be doing our own research on any activity that we care to succeed with. Without studying the information available and giving it sufficient thought, discerning the best decision ends up being a shot in the dark. Maybe get lucky, maybe just waste time. On the same note, if we don’t do our due diligence in studying ourselves we won’t know ourselves well enough. We won’t know where to best focus our thoughts and actions, so our ability to discern the best decisions for ourselves will be blunted. Studying and thinking deeply about our beliefs, interests, abilities and the areas of life these will be best applied is critical for living lives of which we can be proud. The idea of becoming experts in our own lives rings loudly here.
Nobody knows more about ourselves than we do, we know us at our cores, even if not consciously. There is a great deal of information I don’t consciously have about myself. I have to continue mining the depths of myself to connect with all of it.
There isn’t a single person that can be a closer expert in our lives, than ourselves. But other people around us have incredibly useful information about us that we may not see. Having healthy people we trust to help us gain knowledge about ourselves and our capabilities is very beneficial. This could be from a mentor of some sort, family members, self-help books, or even a person we don’t know that says the right thing to us at the right time. Only we can make our own decisions, but the discernment of others can often help ourselves discern more effectively.
Living on Purpose.
Purpose acts as a boundary and guide for the type of lives we want to live. You have probably heard the phrase “if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.” Falling for anything is not a healthy proposition. Having a purpose means deciding what we are living for, which implies what we are not going to fall for. So my purpose to live a life that will create benefits for my loved ones, but not at the peril of others, keeps me from acting maliciously toward others for our gain. My purpose of respecting myself keeps me from acting in ways that will disrespect myself. Disregarding thoughts, activities, and people that could lead to reducing respect for myself, and focusing on those that will enhance it.
Our purposes and what we believe guide our impulses into the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, what we deem important, what to learn, and how to learn them. Purpose guides us into the areas in which we will gain our knowledge, the areas in which we will be discerning. Finding purposes that align with our healthy desires allows the ability to discern to be guided in a healthy way.
Well, that is all we have for today and thank you so much for stopping in to My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth. We wish you growth on your path of practicing the principle of discernment in your life.