Decision-making is a skill, much like a muscle that needs to be exercised, whether at work or in our personal lives. Decisions especially when it comes to health ultimately affect the quality of our lives.
Unfortunately, for some of us, that muscle has atrophied so much that even making the smallest decision or choice becomes difficult, either because we have doubts about what is right or someone is perceived to be exercising control over our decisions. For some, the stresses of everyday responsibilities that seem more important weaken our ability to make better decisions for our health.
Two Systems of Thinking That Influence Decision-Making
The truth is we are not always consistent and balanced with how we make our choices. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics and author of Thinking Fast and Slow, says there are two systems of thinking that influence our decision-making:
System 1 operates impulsively and quickly, with no sense of voluntary control. This is often a result of relying solely on impressions, feelings, and intuition, which can lead to false conclusions. This is where we are thinking fast.
System 2 uses attention, deliberate thinking, and logic. This is where we are thinking slow .
These two processes of thinking shape our decisions. But in reality, most of us use system 1—we use our intuition and impulses to make decisions every day, which results in poor decisions. We can say that the key to better decision-making is to manage System 1 and use more of System 2, to slow down and think about situations where we need to make a choice in a more conscious and analytical way.
How to Strengthen Your Decision-Making Muscle For Health
1. Start with easy and light.
If you want to be more deliberate in your decisions, this takes time and effort. You can achieve this by starting with something small, like adding a piece of fresh fruit to your meal instead of a sugary dessert or snacking on some nuts instead of a snack bar.
These small decisions are to be celebrated as much as your first day in the gym. Expect some “soreness” in the form of uncertainty, but because it’s a small, doable task, your muscle won’t become “sore” from these rational efforts. Just like the gym, you will be stronger as time goes by.
2. Take it slow.
Remember, you have time to build that muscle. It doesn't become a Schwarzenegger muscle overnight, so slow down with your efforts. Even a yes or no answer can be a slow, considerate choice. Maybe have a Miracle Noodle Meal or say no to something today that is bad for your health. That would be a good place to start.
3. Do active relaxation.
Tired of making decisions? Decision fatigue as it’s called is definitely real. If you find you have no strength left to think clearly and logically to make good decisions, you need to balance out your autonomic nervous system.
You can do this by programming 30 minutes of active relaxation into your day. You will be able to find a video on how to do this on our Weight Loss Awakening Friendship group. Other forms of active relaxation are taking a walk; having a sauna, massage, or hot bath; praying; engaging in qigong, yoga, tai chi etc. You will find that that 30 minutes will relieve your decision fatigue and pay you back with several hours of productive decision-making for your health.
Need help with making better health decisions? Join our Weight Loss Awakening Friendship group on Facebook and schedule some time with me so we can chat. It’s free.
1 Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking Fast and Slow. New York, New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux.