The OHDA Loop


Just because I can’t control outcomes does not mean that I can’t choose the actions that are more likely to lead to the outcomes I want (or want to avoid). As a Stoic, I know that regardless of my choices, there are no guarantees that the results I want will occur. In that case I just need to adjust my assumptions and try again. In planning my actions I use the OHDA loop to guide my actions.

OHDA stands for Observe, Hypothesize, Decide and Act:

  • Observe – What is occurring? I must actively keep my eyes, ears and mind open and engaged to recognize what is occurring around me.
  • Hypothesize – Why is this occurring? Who are the actors, obvious and hidden, behind what I observe and what are their possible motivations? Play through scenarios in my mind.
  • Decide – What (if anything) should I do about what is occurring, as it aligns to my goals and values? What are the alternatives?
  • Act – Implement my decision (or do nothing if that is my decision)

Repeat continuously, with multiple loops running in parallel on different timeframes based on my needs and how busy is my environment. When I start to feel overwhelmed by the volume of information I am receiving, I will actively work to simplify my environment (not close down my inputs) so that I can prioritize and process a smaller set of loops that are important to me. Keeping the OHDA loop in the forefront of my mind means that I keep my focus on the present as opposed to allowing my mind to drift to the past or future (but not to the extent of being a Calvin).




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“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”
Scottish proverb

The world is increasingly filled with drama, war, chaos and tension,  exacerbated by the media and the internet, and evil governments and corporations behind them advancing their own agendas.

Wishing for the problems to go away will not make it so, any more than wishing to win the lottery will make it happen, or wishing that someone sick will get better will lead to their recovery. Wishes are desires, and as such lead to suffering and discontentment, not to happiness.

Facing the issues that confront me is what allows me to formulate plans to resolve them. Whether my plans and actions are successful is in the hands of fate, however the ability to formulate and work to implement my plans is my own. Wishing ties my emotional wellbeing to an outcome that I do not control. As a Stoic, I will focus on my plans and actions, and let fate determine the outcomes.

I will not wish, I will work. If I believe [x] is a problem, and I have the means and the opportunity to change [x], then I will do so. However if I believe [x] is a problem but I do not have the means or opportunity to change [x], I will put it out of my mind and focus my plans and actions on what I can influence.

“The Big Lie”


“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda

“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”
Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

“If any foreign minister begins to defend to the death a ‘peace conference’, you can be sure his government has already placed its orders for new battleships and airplanes.”
Joseph Stalin

“All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.

It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.”
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

Just as I believe political ideology and religions actively work to enslave the minds of people, while evil governments and corporations work to  enslave the people, so I also believe that all of these malicious entities are actively using “The Big Lie” to accomplish their aims.

Whether it is “peaceful protestors”, religions of “peace”, corporations who “do no evil” or governments programs “serving the people”, I will not let my opinion be molded by the words of people/organizations and those who promote them, but rather by their actions and history. The more that a slogan or saying is promoted or shouted, the more I will suspect it as being a cover for the truth that is the direct opposite of the saying.

I believe that most children are raised to believe what others say and their good intent. They are told lying to others is a bad thing that they should not do, therefore they believe that others will not do it to them. The consequence is that generations are raised to be gullible patsies, primed for manipulation by all the four groups I have listed, vastly aided by the media and the internet.

It is only after painful experience, either as a member of these groups or a victim, that some will open their eyes to the lies that are being spread and the harm that is being done. As a Stoic I will use skepticism as my shield and sword to defend my mind against manipulation by others.