Day 774: What’s the right thing to do?

“What’s the right thing to do?” is a question I can ask myself, quite frequently.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself that question about:

  1. Preparing for a trip to California, starting tomorrow.
  2. Preparing for tax day, April 15.
  3. Preparing for my high school’s 45th reunion, some time in 2015.
  4. Preparing for the rest of my life.
  5. Interacting authentically with people, balancing my needs with their needs.
  6. Deciding, with the help of a cadre of cardiologists,  how to keep my very unusual heart beating, for as long as possible.
  7. Writing today’s blog post.

While asking

What’s the right thing to do?

can be important and helpful,  focusing TOO MUCH and TOO OFTEN on

“What’s the right thing to do?”

can be paralyzing and overwhelming, especially when right or wrong is not obvious.

When I am leading therapy groups at the Boston hospital where I work, I often say

There is no right or wrong way to do this.

I like saying that. And, people in the groups seem to like hearing that, too. Maybe that’s because we can all get caught up in the “cognitive distortion” of all-or-nothing thinking:

All-or-Nothing thinking (also known as “Black-and-White thinking”).
Things are either all good or all bad, people are either perfect or failures, something new will either fix everything or be worthless. There is no middle ground; we place people and situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray, or allowing for complexities. Watch out for absolute words like “always”, “never,” “totally,” etc. as indications of this kind of distortion.

Today, Friday the 13th, February 2015, I hereby resolve to let go of right-or-wrong, all-or-nothing, and black-and-white thoughts that get in the way of my moving forward.

Instead, I’m going to allow room for shades of grays and the full spectrum of colors, like in these photos:


IMG_5428 IMG_5429 IMG_5430 IMG_5432 IMG_5431 IMG_5436

Yesterday, I couldn’t figure out

What’s the right thing to do?

… to load all those photos from my iPhone to my laptop.  Sometimes, just waiting patiently resolves a problem.

That last photo shows a new snow shovel that my wonderful downstairs neighbor, Karen, recently bought for us, to help us deal with all the !!@&!!!! snow in Boston  (see here, here, here, here, and here, for more details and images about that).

I don’t have to worry about

What’s the right thing to do?

with that shovel, until I get back from California.

I’m going to ask myself, just one more time:

What’s the right thing to do?

… before I publish this post.  What’s the right music to include here?

Do you have any ideas? Because I’m a little distracted today.

Maybe I should take my own advice:

 Sometimes, just waiting patiently resolves a problem.

Got it!

Dr. John performing “Right Place, Wrong Time” is in the right place here on YouTube.

Thanks to doctors everywhere, to anybody who has ever asked “What’s the right thing to do?” and to you — of course! — for being the right place at whatever time, today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 47 Comments

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47 thoughts on “Day 774: What’s the right thing to do?

  1. Girl, I am thrilled that you are about to go west. I’m also looking forward to the many photos you will share with us upon your return. Hope you have the time of your life! (Loving your advice.)🚅🚍🚘🌈✈️🚖🚕🌉🌅❤️

    • Loving your comment and I’m thrilled by your visit. And if we get out of here tomorrow, I plan to post and show photos every day.

  2. The right thing to do right now with the information I see in front of me is to tell your to have an incredible time with Aaron in sunny California. Drive the coast with open eyes and mind, iPhone at the ready, and plenty of WiFi-loaded stops each night to give you posting spots and peace of mind.

    Decisions with Team Ann Koplow upper cardiac management swim underneath the surface, perhaps, but way down … to be addressed when again it’s the right place and the right time.

  3. One more day. Whoopee. Here comes the sun! As for What’s the right thing to do? . . . Well, you don’t need to decide about the snow shovel right now. The answer to that will come when you’re not really thinking about it. In other words, take your own advice and wait. Your advice to your patients about there never being a right or wrong way is excellent, too. Go and have a wonderful holiday away from all that snow. Enjoy the scenery and the sun and you’ll be all bright-eyed and bushy tailed when you come back home.

    • Thanks so much, Millie! I hope the next Boston-area blizzard does the right thing tomorrow and waits patiently for our plane to escape to California.

  4. “There is no right or wrong way to do this.”

    LOVE THIS!!! Yes, this is how I LIVE my Life!!

    As for you, Ann, go and fly with the wind, seek adventures in California, live like every day is your last, laugh, cry, sing, dance, explore! Take lots of pictures seeking the unusual. Leave your “worries” behind and trust that your Heart will be true to you so that you can have the Best Time of Your Life in California!! Dance, my friend, to the Beat of Love that is YOU! (((HUGS))) Amy

  5. Yup — There is not right or wrong way — there is just the way you choose. Love it!

    and because you’re off to California… One of my favourites!

  6. Whew!! #7 is now off your list! That leaves #1 in the Top Slot. Go for it! Everything else will follow.
    Or not. So what?

    • “So what?” is one of my favorite things to say, Elouise. I’m so glad you followed this post today!

      • Me too! I’m sure you’ll enjoy California. I’ve lived there twice in my life–childhood (LA area), then back for seminary in the LA area. We’ve also lived in Boston–in the late 60s and early 70s. What a ride that was! Your snow right now is way worse than we experienced (which was totally bad enough for me). Your photos remind me how depressing it all looks after the first day.

  7. Ann, why did you have to ask that question? Why? Although I’m not practicing now (OT), I’ve always been very protective of my patients. Now I ask you. Can you tolerate it? Do you have the energy? If you do, go. Practice energy conservation techniques, do not get stressed. Maybe reduce some of the driving, and concentrate in one place where you can relax, more so than having to cover so much terrain? ❤️ I lean on the conservative side now. Maybe it was the question.

    • I know, it probably had to do with #7, and making decisions.

    • Thanks, as always, Maria, for your thoughtfulness and your caring nature. Sometimes I ask questions just to get them out of my head, so I can let go of anxiety and worry. And I did feel better after I wrote this post. And I also felt better after I read your comments.

  8. I also love Carly Simon, and here’s another one: All The Things You Are:

  9. How many shades of grey exactly, Ann? 😉 Sorry couldn’t resist! ❤
    Diana xo

  10. Enjoy California! I also really want to know how the reunion goes. And I am now inspired to listened to Coming Around Again by Carly Simon

  11. As the ultimate fence-sitter, I very much approve of allowing plenty different shades in. I am very keen on fuzzy solutions.

  12. “Today, Friday the 13th, February 2015, I hereby resolve to let go of right-or-wrong, all-or-nothing, and black-and-white thoughts that get in the way of my moving forward.”
    Me too Ann!!

    Now go pack!
    Its the only thing to do 😉
    Val x

  13. It was the right thing to share Dr. John. I remember being in the right place when this song came out. Thanks for the memory.

  14. It was the right thing to write.

  15. You got me thinking. I too like to ask this question at many occassions or part of daily work. I am wondering why don’t we also ask what is the wrong thing to do. Perhaps, it gives the answer of what is the wring thing to do. Perhaps, there are too many wrong ways and it leads to more open ends. Hmm.

    • Thanks for reading and thinking. Now, you’ve got me thinking, too.

      Often, we do the best we can making the “right choice,” but .. we can’t tell the future. So, when things don’t work out, we often go back and judge ourselves for making the “wrong” choice. The “right” thing to do then would be to remember that we were doing the best we could, at the time.

  16. My best friend lives in Arlington, Massachusetts…and we’ve been comparing temperatures. Are you sure you’re ready? 🙂 You’re going to thaw out in California. I hope you have a wonderful time!

    • We spend a lot of time in Arlington, Massachusetts; it’s great to know your best friend lives there. And, yes, I’M READY!

  17. Pingback: Day 775: Awkward | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  18. Gene Phillips

    Yay for the colors and all the shades of gray.

  19. The right thing for me to do would have been to read and reply to this post on the day that you wrote it, but I was caught up in classes, interviews and general transit turbulence. I love that your posts are always full of questions. I love that I get to think of answers for some of them. I love that you always come up with new ones.I’d love to know why “black sheep” was written on your whiteboard….

  20. Pingback: Day 1814: Recalculating | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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