Descartes Square

Kevin Mahoney

Coaching Member
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Feb 24, 2017
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#1
Several months ago, someone introduced me to the decision making method called the “Descartes Square”. The name derives from the credited originator, French philosopher Rene Descartes. The square comes from the fact that four decision making questions are placed separately in the four quarters of a square. In the upper left hand quarter is the question “What will happen if this happens?” Moving clockwise, the remaining questions ask “What will happen if this doesn’t happen?”, “What won’t happen if this doesn’t happen?” and “What won’t happen if this happens?”.

A couple things stood out to me as I learned more about the Descartes Square. First, I was struck by how simple and practical it is. If you are like me, when exploring decisions on important matters you will naturally ask the first question “What will happen if this happens?”. The important element of the square is that you also explore the consequences of not making a decision. This can help provide a much needed reality check if we are inclined to seek perfect situations in an imperfect world. Second, despite reading a decent amount of material about personal growth and development, I have never heard of the Descartes Square before. If you have never done so, I would recommend utilizing the Descartes Square the next time you are faced with a tough decision.

Does the Descartes Square seem like a viable tool for decision making? What methods do you find helpful in making decisions?
 

Ricardo Ortiz

Advisor Member
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Aug 8, 2017
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Guadalajara Jalisco Mexico
#3
This reminds me of hypothetical questions we do in our clinic with patients recovering from alcoholism or addictions. It works because it makes them think about pros and cons. Personally, since I am reaching more of the spiritual realm in my practice, I am making my decisions based on intuition, sensations and the truth. Basically, asking myself "by doing this will I get closer to my true self expression of who I am" if the answer is yes then I know I am seeking growth and discovering the true me.