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Decisions are courses of action selected from among several alternative scenarios.


  • DECIDE, v.i. To succumb to the preponderance of one set of influences over another set.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • Somewhere deep down we know that in the final analysis we do decide things and that even our decisions to let someone else decide are really our decisions, however pusillanimous.

Whenever you're called on to make up your mind,
and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No — not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you're hoping.

  • Piet Hein, A Psychological Tip
  • Any man facing a major decision acts, consciously or otherwise, upon the training and beliefs of a lifetime. This is no less true of a military commander than of a surgeon who, while operating, suddenly encounters an unsuspected complication. In both instances, the men must act immediately, with little time for reflection, and if they are successful in dealing with the unexpected it is upon the basis of past experience and training.
    • Ernest King, Fleet Admiral King: A Naval Record (1952), p. viii
  • As mathematical and absolute certainty is seldom to be attained in human affairs, reason and public utility require that judges and all mankind in forming their opinions of the truth of facts should be regulated by the superior number of the probabilities on the one side or the other whether the amount of these probabilities be expressed in words and arguments or by figures and numbers.
  • Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.
  • You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
    You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
    I will choose a path that's clear-
    I will choose Free Will.
  • Determine on some course,
    More than a wild exposure to each chance
    That starts i' the way before thee.
  • We have a choice: to plow new ground or let the weeds grow.
    • Attributed to Jonathan Westover, a fictitious person. This sentence originally appeared in a Virginia Department of Agriculture report for fiscal year 1958–1959 entitled Plowed Ground. When the authors were pushed by a deadline and unable to find the kind of quotation they wanted, they made one up. In January 1970 the sentence was used on the cover of a Virginia Mental Health Commission report, This Commonwealth's Commitment. An effort to learn more about Westover after this report appeared uncovered the origin of the sentence. Richmond Times-Dispatch (January 26, 1970), p. B1

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 182-83.
  • Multitudes in the valley of decision.
    • Joel. III. 14
  • Decide not rashly. The decision made
    Can never be recalled. The gods implore not,
    Plead not, solicit not; they only offer
    Choice and occasion, which once being passed
    Return no more. Dost thou accept the gift?
  • Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
    In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side.
  • Men must be decided on what they will NOT do, and then they are able to act with vigor in what they ought to do.
    • Mencius, Works, Book IV, Part II, Chapter VIII

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • Firmness, both in sufferance and exertion, is a character which I would wish to possess. I have always despised the whining yelp of complaint and the cowardly, feeble resolve.
  • I take one decisive and immediate step, and resign my all to the sufficiency of my Saviour.
  • For a few brief days the orchards are white with blossoms. They soon turn to fruit, or else float away, useless and wasted, upon the idle breeze. So will it be with present feelings. They must be deepened into decision, or be entirely dissipated by delay.
  • I hate to see things done by halves. If it be right, do it boldly; if it be wrong, leave it undone.
  • To be energetic and firm where principle demands it, and tolerant in all else, is not easy. It is not easy to abhor wickedness, and oppose it with every energy, and at the same time to have the meekness and gentleness of Christ, becoming all things to all men for the truth's sake. The energy of patience, the most godlike of all, is not easy.
  • A man who has not learned to say " no " — who is not resolved that he will take God's way in spite of every dog that can bark at him, in spite of every silvery voice that can woo him aside — will be a weak and wretched man till he dies.
  • In such a world as this, with such hearts as ours, weakness is wickedness in the long run. Whoever lets himself be shaped and guided by any thing lower than an inflexible will, fixed in obedience to God, will in the end be shaped into a deformity, and guided to wreck and ruin.
  • Decision is a vastly important thing with a convicted sinner. He must choose, or he must be lost. If he will not do it, he may expect the Divine Spirit to depart from him, and leave him to his own way.



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