Many people attend Mindfulness-Based Strategic Awareness Training (MBSAT) hoping to learn the best methods for decision-making. Every day, we are faced with several options. We have become habitual in most of our decision-making. The problem with making good choices is not only about the big decisions we have to make at work or at home. In fact, most of the choices we make daily are quick and biased. Daniel Kahnemann, the author of Thinking Fast and Slow, proposed that we often make quick decisions to save time and energy. This part of the mind he called System 1. The mind we use for in-depth thinking and observation, which he called System 2, is seldom used. That’s because system 1 takes over most of the time in the choices we make. But System 1 is unreliable because it’s biased.
What’s wrong with biased decisions?
Most of us would not think there is anything with being biased unless we have been disadvantaged by someone else’s bias. Or if our biased choice has hurt another and we become aware of it. Workplace bias is quite common and most of the time it may be unconscious bias. As much as we try to address these imbalances at work and in our lives, unfortunately, bias will always remain. I am not being pessimistic here, but because one has to be aware of one’s bias. We are a society with a short attention span and bias is becoming more rampant while we are becoming less aware.
What are biased choices?
While there are so many options to choose from, there are only very few reasons why we make our choices. Our survival instincts cause us to make decisions that increases our chances of survival. To survive, we don’t only need shelter and food. We also need protection from the herd. In this way, we choose situations that cause others to like us. Sometimes we think we are being helpful to others. Yes it is true, but our deep intentions need to be examined so that we can observe what actually are good decisions.
Another reason we choose one option over another is because the choice we made is much more pleasant than another. We would definitely make choices to avoid seeing someone we dislike. Human beings loves pleasure and dislike displeasure. Otherwise, we make our choices quickly because we are confused or we want to stop thinking.
How to make good decisions?
It might be errorneous to think that we only need to spend time and effort on big decisions such as getting married, buying a house or closing a deal. Truth is, if we can make good small decisions daily, the big ones will not be difficult. How then, can we make good decisions?
When we look at making a good decision to benefit us, that already is biased. But yet, decisions should always benefit us. After all, we are not striving for martyrdom. However, if we make choices that causes others disadvantage, we might feel guilt on our conscience. We seldom take notice of our conscience these days, preferring to surpress our feelings or to avoid unpleasantness.
A good conscience is not to be underestimated. It brings us good sleep, and lightness in the heart. Being light in the heart can bring us joy. In short, we can say, good decisions come from one who is aware of his or her conscience.
How to be aware of your conscience?
One way to become aware of our conscience is to become sensitive to our body and feelings. We supress our feelings when we choose to live in our heads. Good decisions do not come from thinking alone, it involves the heart. Have you ever made a logical decision that hurt someone? Despite your reasons, did you feel unbalanced in your heart?
Most of us are aware of not allowing our hearts (passion) to rule our mind. Someone ruled totally by the heart can seem irrational. The problem we have today is being dependent on our heads. We live in our heads which conjures up desires and many mind wanderings – akin to day dreaming. Thus, a good decision requires not only being rational and considering the consequences, but one has to also feel comfortable in the heart.
If you are interested in learning to become sensitive to your body, and feelings and grow awareness of how your thoughts relate to them, get in touch with us for our mindfulness courses.