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Buridan's Donkey Contemplation


Jean Buridan was a French philosopher who theorized that if a donkey was placed between two equidistant bales of hay, the donkey would, in turn, become paralyzed by indecision.


I think we can all relate to this theory in more ways than one. We have, at one point or another, been faced with challenging circumstances that entail rewarding and scary consequences. Do we choose the lesser of two evils? Do we go with what past experience has taught us? Do we just make a choice without really thinking about it and see how that plays out?


The bottom line is that if you spend all of your time trying to choose between the two, you'll end up choosing nothing.


The way I deal with contemplating Buridan's Donkey is that I give myself an allotted time to think over a situation. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, a day, two, or a week. If by the end of a given time I can't make up my mind, I randomly choose something or flip a coin and let my fate rest in the hands of a new experience.


As Russell Brand says, "in justifying our misery, we are doomed to repeat it." In the same way, if we justify every potential good or bad that may come with a choice, then we just prolong just making a choice and allowing life to take its natural course.


Sometimes, all you have to do is stop thinking and start doing, no matter how scary it may seem. After all, your success is measured in your willingness and ability to face uncomfortable situations and take risks.

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