My Grandmother used to say, “People do what they want to do.” At first hearing, this bothered me, but over time I realized that this is true. It’s not to say that we don’t have to do things that we don’t want to do or that our days are a sequence of fun choices. It means that when we decide the events of the day, how we spend our time, in the end, we do what we want to do, with rare exception. If we have to choose between regular high carb pancakes, loaded with sugar and syrup for breakfast, or a wiser choice, steak and eggs, in the end we will choose what we want. We will choose lethargy or energy. We need to consider our choices.
Decision making is based partially on emotion. (1) Without emotion, we could not make a decision. We have to “feel” it. The amygdala, (the seat of our most primitive emotions) and the orbitofrontal cortex are critical to decision making. This enables us to make decisions based on previous experiences. Without this emotional element we would not be able to apply lessons learned to the present. How did that “Super Sized Death By Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae” make you feel the last time you ate it? Did you learn anything?
Decision making has been shown to exhaust us mentally. The University of Minnesota did a study that demonstrated that after making decisions, participants performed at a lower level in arithmetic and other college class material. Making a quality decision uses energy and sometimes we want to take the “easy” way out and just go with the flow but if we do that too often, then our lives are formed by random chance and not by our heart’s desire. Choose what you want and make the decisions to get you there.
We are influenced by what we believe to be social norms because we are using those beliefs as an anchor. It’s been noted that when we believe that a lower performance level is the social norm, we will “dumb down” our decision to fit that belief. Take care to associate with people who have the lives and standards that you want in your life because odds are, you will make decisions to be like them.
Be Careful of the Groups
Group decision making is inferior to individual decision making. In a group, the most social individual will usually exert the most influence. This is not necessarily the same as the one with the best information. Over time, the quality information of the individual thinkers will give way to the collective group “think tank”, which means that the people who are the most conformist in the group will give the group direction. Think for yourself. You have to live with your decisions.
Taking too much time to make a decision decreases the confidence of that decision. As confidence decreases, we are more likely to make a poor decision. You know what to do to be healthy. Make that decision. Run with it. Don’t ponder it. As Nike says, “Just Do It.”
Now, do you really want to be healthy? Make the decision. Implement the plan and live it. You will be so glad that you did.