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We are faced with choices every moment of our life about what we are going to do next. Usually, these choices are made automatically by our habitual behavior, and the routines of our lives flow smoothly. However, sometimes the most important directions of our future life are chosen instantly without any forethought. Perhaps some choices are best made that way, instantly, on first observation, as was recommended by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink. However, other decisions are best made after thorough analysis of the facts and a careful analysis of future outcomes. For some decisions, it is better to spend weeks gathering information and consulting people who have had similar experiences. Sometimes reading extensively is the best route, and consulting Consumers Reports, and seeking out other objective analysis of your projected needs.

Life changes constantly, but the big changes are normal developmental ones from infancy on through childhood, to adolescence, to adulthood, and for some to maturity, and for a very few to sagehood. All of these people need appropriate wisdom to help them with their choices. Some basic problems for infants are how to crawl, stand, walk, cry, smile, and get parental help. Problems for children are how to do things without getting hurt, how to learn words and syntax of their social group, how to relate to people and animals that are not part of one’s family. Adolescents need to gain trust and friendship of outside people, form group identities, study and work. Adults must learn to do something that will get some form of gainful full-time employment, so they can support themselves and a family. Mature people learn to be directors and creators of value for their family and community. Sages must create cohesive systems for their entire community, potentially expanding up to the whole species, to relate to one another in ways that are felt by everyone to be fair.

All of these stages of human development have problems, and most people by age fifty have moved on to exploring the mature ones of helping other people find their personal way.

The great problem for everyone is that many things they try in life don’t work very well, and they don’t have a workable solution, and that leads to feeling unworthy and depressed. Depression can happen to an infant or a sage. When a person is in a depressed mood, they have trouble seeing their options, but most normal people will automatically return to a neutral state with some mild activity.

When a person of any level of maturity is feeling good, energetic, and positive, then they can see their options. They can explore many potential future scenarios when their mind is untroubled, and from the options choose the ones that are most promising for future exploration. When in a positive frame of mind they can pursue the chosen path with full vigor.

Avoid making important decisions when in a bad mood, and wait for a good mood to arise naturally, or learn how to get into a positive mood.