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Tossing A Wooden Nickel
Have you ever had to make a tough decision? I don't mean a life-or-death decision. More like: should I have Ranch or French dressing on my salad? You think about the pros and cons of each choice: when was the last time you had either; which goes best with Romaine lettuce; or which colour best matches your tie or blouse (in case you spill, of course)? You still cannot make up your mind. Meanwhile, your dinner partner is ready to order from the dessert tray.
We all face many decisions daily. Most are easy choices, a few require long and thoughtful contemplation. Then there are the nagging decisions which defy quick resolution but are really not worth more than a few minute's contemplation. We all have these occasions, perhaps some of us more often than others. I found this especially true when I began simplifying my life and expenditures. Many of the small choices were very nagging.
I generally resolve such issues by tossing a wooden nickel. I guess any old coin would do, but I have a hand-crafted wooden nickel from Myrtlewood in Port Orford, Oregon in my office which serves my purpose. I could use any old coin, but I feel a unique coin gives the process some greater degree of cosmic priority than a run-of-the-mill, out-of-the-pocket nickel. It screams to the universe "I am something special, only used for important occasions, pay attention to me."
Here is how the process works. When you come to a decision time, you usually quickly weigh the pros and cons of either choice. "I had Ranch last but French goes better with Romaine. Neither look good on blue. Ranch is creamier but French leaves me with sweeter breath." The debate seesaws back and forth and no choice receives greater weight. You cannot make a decision either way and thus you consciously believe that both choices are equally weighted.
So what do you do? At this point I leave the decision to pure random chance, divine intervention, the universal flow of cosmic energy. I toss my wooden nickel: Heads for Ranch; Tails for French.
The coin is tossed. The Fates have decided. It's heads! Ranch.
If I say to myself "Two out of three," then I believe that I really had an unconscious choice but was unable to bring it to my conscious mind, and the dressing I order is French. If I do not question the results of the toss, then I order Ranch. In this case, the choice must have been truly unimportant to me or else I subconsciously favoured Ranch.
I have extended the practice over the years to multiple choice decisions as well. If, for example I have several books I would like to read but cannot decide which to begin today, I might roll a dice or use a playoff method and the wooden nickel in a series of tosses. Again, if there is trouble accepting the decision, then I know the choices were not equally weighted, and I do have a preference. In this case, the preference may be to eliminate one of the choices and continue the process with a fewer number.
While there have been occasions where I later regretted a choice, the majority of them came when new information came to light. For example, the author stunk! Mostly, my wooden nickel decision maker has saved me hours in speeding decisions and has frequently shown me that I did truly have a preference.
Now, what will I have for supper?
Tossing A Wooden Nickel by Keith C. Heidorn, PhD . ©1996, All Rights Reserved.
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