A question I hear asked a lot goes something like this: “Will mindfulness help me make the best decision?”
The best reply is: “Mindfulness will help you make an awake decision and be fully aware of that decision.”
Everyday we make hundreds of decisions without putting much thought into them. What will I wear today? What should I eat for breakfast? Which route should I drive? Where should I park? What should I do first at work? Should I check my email or Facebook? Should I read this blog post? What should I chose for lunch? How many cups of coffee should I drink?
You get the idea. Everyday. Hundreds of decisions made without much thought whatsoever. The goal of mindfulness is to change the way you process information and make decisions. It is waking up our brain to function intentionally rather than automatically. Do you know what every single diet in the world has in common? Awareness. From Paleo to Weight Watchers, they all make you become more aware of what you are eating.
So how will mindfulness help me make an awake decision? Three things:
- Mindfulness raises your awareness of the outcomes. When you think about the decision to logical outcomes you become aware of what affects this decision will have. This gets easier the more times you make decisions. Our brains start to notice patterns. If I have a snack of something salty at bedtime, I am going to want a snack of something sweet. So should I have that snack of something salty knowing the logical outcome?
- Mindfulness gives you a moment of reflection. I am not saying slow down and procrastinate on a decision that should have been made already. I am saying that mindfulness helps give you a break to take it all in, and this break will more often than not be fruitful in getting to the right decision. Ever notice comments on social media? I would say most of them have not been fully processed before posting. If I take a moment to process, my response is not as tied to emotions as if I just blurt out the first reaction.
- Mindfulness lets those around you catch their breath. I have been around high functioning people and around low functioning people. Most people are somewhere in-between. Pausing for others is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. I was trying to figure out the best decision to make with a group of people, and one of the people took a moment to share something while I was quiet. Their input changed my decision. If not for that brief pause, I might have had made a poorer decision.
Why not take a moment today and reflect on a decision that you have made recently? Was it the right decision? Who was affected by the decision? Could it have been a better decision? Would you have made the same decision looking back at it? What would have changed? The more we become aware of our decisions, the more we grow into better decision makers.