How often do we find ourselves struggling to know the right course of action, the right thing to say? There is no magic solution to knowing the right thing to do. But, these are a few suggestions for working out the best course of action.
1. Listen to Your Inner voice
Deep within, we all have an inner voice, – our own conscience. It is sometimes hard to put our finger on this part of us, which knows the right thing. To be able to listen to our own conscience we have to silence the mind and put aside the perceptions of the ego. Conscience is like a muscle, the more we listen to it – the stronger it becomes. If we value our inner pilot, it will be easier to listen to it.
2. Does your decision bring inner peace?
The best way to tell whether we are doing the right thing is to feel whether we are inwardly happy with the choice. As William Shakespeare suggested it is:
“A peace above all earthly dignities, a still and quiet conscience.” 
Sometimes we want to do something, but feel tremendous discord and inner turmoil. With these kind of decisions we cannot get any peace of mind, but, we spend time vainly trying to justify our decisions. Sometimes we can succeed in overriding the voice of our conscience – but, this inevitably leads to regrets later on. Note the ‘right decision’ may not lead to outer peace. Sometimes doing the ‘right thing’ will bring complications in our outer life. But, in working out the best thing to do, we need to place importance on our inner state of mind. If we know we are doing the ‘right thing’ we can more easily tolerate outer sufferings.
3. Give Time for Reflection
Quite often our initial reaction is clouded with emotion. When we react in haste, it is more difficult to know the right thing to do. When writing an important letter, always give time to revise your initial draft. Sometimes we write things in the heat of the moment, but, on quiet reflection we realise there are much better ways of saying things. If a difficult situation arises try to give yourself time before pronouncing your verdict. This is particularly true if we are consumed with anger. When we are angry we lose our equanimity and our judgement is often impaired.
4. Are you acting out of Ego – Jealousy / Pride?
It is important to be able to critically analyse our motives. If we are acting out of a feeling of wounded pride or jealousy it is highly likely we are not taking the best solution. In deciding the best thing to do, don’t act from a misplaced feeling of pride or what makes you look good. Try to act selflessly, when we have selfless motives it is much easier to know the right thing to do.
5. Read the Wisdom of Teachers who inspire you.
If you feel an affinity with a certain teaching / philosophy, how does your decision fit in with these basic ethical / spiritual principles. A Christian would read the words of Christ, a Buddhist would read the philosophy of the Buddha. Sometimes we read teachings of other people, and part of it really resonates as an inspired philosophy to guide our life by. Remember these particular quotes and try to live this philosophy, even in the most trying circumstances.
6. Take Advice
Don’t be too proud to seek the advice of others. Two heads can be better than one; for some questions it can be helpful to take a second opinion. It is important to take advice from the right people. Often the best person may be someone who is detached from your situation. However, we should not feel duty bound to follow the advice of others and society. Often the ‘right thing’ is that which is not dictated by social pressures.
7. Are You Happy with the consequences?
A simple spiritual philosophy, is to act in a way that takes into consideration your neighbour. When deciding what to do, try to place yourself in the position of other people – would you be happy if behaved like that towards yourself? Would you be glad if other people did this to you? Will you regret this decision if people find out what you are doing?
Sometimes to know the right thing to do we need to speak a little less and listen a little more. Silence often saves us from having to enter into difficult and unnecessary disputes. Often problems are not helped by our intervention. Through remaining silent we often enable the problem to resolve of its own accord. (When silence is the best philosophy)
 Henry Viii Act iii Scene ii
Photo by Ranjit, Sri Chinmoy Centre galleries