One of the key ways meditation makes us more intelligent is that it improves your decision making skills.
One such benefit is the fact that meditation improves decision making skills in as little as 15 minutes.
Science proves it.
According to research at The Wharton School and INSEAD (“The Business School for the World”), as little as fifteen minutes a day practicing mindfulness meditation significantly improves decision making skills .
One of the main causes of bad decision making skills is an inability to accept the facts.
Consider how many people:
- stay in bad relationships for long periods of time
- continue to eat unhealthily
- do not exercise
- do not look after their health;
- stay in an unsuitable job sometimes for years.
This bad decision making is caused by a behaviour scientists term “sunk-cost bias.”
Researcher Andre Hafenbrack tells THE DAILY MEDITATION, “People struggle to admit that they were wrong when a previous decision leads to a negative outcome. They prefer not to feel wasteful and don’t like to believe their original decision and original investment was a loss.” This behaviour then leads them to delude themselves into looking positively at bad decisions. “This causes them to lose more resources and more time.”
In their studies, Hafenback and his co-researchers discovered that mindfulness meditation helps to remove people from the problem of “sunk-cost bias”. Mindfulness does this by enabling us to see with more clarity and more acceptance.
Studies show that mindfulness is one of the most effective forms of decision skills training because it removes people from sunk-cost bias.
“A brief period of mindfulness encourages individuals to make better decisions by considering the information available in the present moment while ignoring [the complications associated with ‘sunk cost bias’].”
The studies performed by INSEAD and The Wharton School tested the idea that 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation represented effective decision making skills training.
In the study, individuals discussed how they focus on the present moment and read ten sunk-cost scenarios—which included such scenarios as attending a music festival which had already been paid for, while illness made enjoyment unlikely.
- The results of the test showed that after mindfulness meditation people were more focused on the present moment and were more likely to make better quality decisions.
“Meditation reduces the amount of focus people place on the past and the future, and reduces negative emotions,” said Zoe Kinias, co-author of the research.
Boost Your Decision Making Skills With These Techniques
As a meditation teacher I have a few favorite exercises for decision making.
One of the quickest and most fun ways to improve decision making is by using a little cash.
- Visit your local convenience store with at least $5. You’re going to buy some candy (or health food)
- Spend a few minutes looking over the items so you are aware of the possible choices you could make.
- List ten items that you might like to buy.
- Reduce that list down to 5 (this trains the mind to say no, which is particularly useful shopping addicts)
- Order the 5 items you most want from 1 to 5
- Buy them
- Eat the first of your candies. The rest are the reward for part 2.
Do this next part of the exercise later on the same day or even the next day.
This bit is hardcore!
- Choose one of the following items (choose the one you have the most emotional atachment to) : songs; movies; books; pictures / photos ; Facebook friends ; twitter followers / following; cards (if you have collected cards you’ve received over the years)… these are just examples. Choose something you have an emotional connection to and of which you have at least 10 different examples (so you must have 10 favourite songs or movies, friends etc.)
- Take a few minutes to list your items in order from 1 to 10.
- Now, you are about to permanently throw away 5 of these items (mentally. You dont have to actually do it. Just pretend that you are going to throw them out or delete them etc.)
- Create two lists; one list of items that you will keep, the other of ones you will get rid of.
- Mentally imagine yourself saying goodbye to the 5 items on your “get rid of” list.
- Take a few minutes to look over the items you chose to keep. Recognise why you made your decision.
- Eat candy number 2 (or treat yourself in some other way; whatever works best for you).
- Do this exercise regularly to get used to evaluating various items. This will help you weigh up the value of products, ideas and much more and will greatly help with the decision making process.
It’s pretty painful to get rid of some of the things we like. But it’s essential. Not only does this helps with decision making, it also gets rid of a bunch of stuff. Great for minimal living!