According to Emily Freeman, author of “The Next Right Thing,” it is estimated that adults make over 35,000 decisions every day. Many of these are mindless; we aren’t actually even aware of having an option. Even when we elect not to choose, that is still a choice. What we forget, she says, is that choices not only shape outcomes but they also shape the person making them. Decisions reveal character and also help to create character.
What if the way we make decisions is as important as the decisions we make? What if we were able to make choices based on a spiritual foundation? What if we didn’t have to live with indecision, which can be the result of unmade decisions?
Freeman has a unique answer to decision making. Her focus is on the person rather than the decision to be made.
She doesn’t tell the reader what to decide; she advocates living in the moment and deciding what your next right step should be rather than trying to figure out exactly the wheres, whos, whys, and so on. The latter approach is overwhelming.
Freeman’s way clears the decision-making chaos and adds a spiritual element to daily life.
Each of the book’s 24 chapters gives new insight into how to turn decision making into a simple, soulful practice. The chapters are similar to Freeman’s podcast, written in a gentle way that imitates her soothing voice.
Each chapter offers a short reflection, a suggested action, and a prayer to help you create a little more “space for your soul to breathe.” While her approach is from a religious viewpoint, it is not at all preachy and should resonate with any reader.
Don’t rush through this book; savor it bit by bit.
Practical Strategies for Decision Making
Freeman advocates becoming a soul minimalist. She expands on a quote by author Joshua Becker, “Minimalism is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you,” to say that this quote also applies to soul clutter.
Too much noise is coming into our lives, and we need time for daily reflection to shut out some of this chatter: Take a few minutes each day to quiet the outside noises and reflect in order to discover your unique vision for happiness. Picture a higher power walking with you in this task, issuing a kind invitation to release the burden of heavy decisions.
Freeman says that allowing things to remain unnamed and unacknowledged definitely impacts how a decision is made. She points out that a name is powerful. Names mean things; they carry weight, importance, and intimacy. To know a person’s name is to know something of them.
Names are powerful for other things as well. When we don’t name exactly what we are deciding on, our minds become clouded over with generalities and a vague sense of anxiety.
Remember: Naming is not the same as explaining. It is just a process to open our minds.
Second Chances Reveal the Child Within
Freeman says that sometimes a particular set of circumstances cause a person to become a beginner, such as a new job, a divorce, a birth, and so on. We may invite these changes, but we often don’t give ourselves permission to be new within. Instead, we want to rush ahead to mastery.
She recommends that we replace our shame with laughter and our doubts with love. We can begin again with the joy of the child within all of us.
Make a Life Energy List
Freeman does not favor making a pro-con list. Instead, she prefers making a life energy list. To do this, she suggests going back in the recent past and thinking about what was life draining and what was life giving. Using this information in the future, you can make a decision with actual information from life rather than frantic speculation.
She offers so many other workable tips that I believe reading “The Next Right Thing” may be your next right decision.
‘The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions’
Emily P. Freeman
Published by Revell
256 pages; hardcover, $19.99
Linda Wiegenfeld is a retired teacher with 45 years’ experience teaching children. She can be reached for comments or suggestions at LWiegenfeld@aol.com