We’ve talked before about our inner guidance systems or our inner guidepost. When we consciously make decisions, we compare the potential decision to our inner guidepost to evaluate whether it is in alignment with who we are or who we want to be, or not. But most people make many decisions unconsciously, through habit or frequently, based on whether something feels good or bad. Since mindfulness encourages non-judgment, I think a more accurate description would be whether something feels like it would create comfort or discomfort.
The problem with making decisions this way is that those decisions may not be serving us or others. Consider all of the activities in life that create some discomfort but are actually in our best interest. Medicine, for example, if we’re unwell. The medicine may cause some discomfort but may also help restore our health. Meditation is another good example. There are a multitude of benefits from practicing meditation, but many experience a range of discomforts in doing so. Kale, brussel sprouts, exercise, conflict – all may at least initially create discomfort, but all can lead to positive outcomes. Making decisions to avoid discomfort eliminates the potential for activities that best serve us.
On the flip side, if we make decisions in seeking comfort only, consider the potential calamities. Junk food, smoking, drinking, drugs, compulsive shopping, well, the list goes on. In our never ending search for happiness, we sabotage ourselves through comfort seeking versus taking the time to consider whether our actions are in alignment with out inner guidance system or out of alignment.
All of our decisions come from somewhere in the mind, so perhaps if we better understood the mechanics of what’s going on upstairs, we could make changes in order to make better decisions. I recently had a conversation with Leonard Pulmutter, the founder and director of The American Meditation Institute. If you’ve ever studied yoga, you might be familiar with his comprehensive, holistic mind/body medicine program, The Heart and Science of Yoga, which is accredited by both the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association.
His newest book, Your Conscience: The Key to Unlock Limitless Wisdom and Creativity and Solve All of Life’s Challenges is a simple, logical introduction to how your mind works and the perfect entry point for anyone who wants to live a more fulfilling life simply by learning to depend on their conscience.
I’m so grateful that Leonard took the time to join us today to break down the four functions in the mind involved in decision-making. There’s nothing wrong with seeking comfort or pleasures. It’s when we only seek comfort that we run into trouble. By understanding and managing our egos, staying alert to our habitual behaviors and making changes when needed, recognizing that our senses - our bodies, are sending important information to the brain, and focusing on and developing our consciences - our inner guideposts, we can experience the full richness of life. Why would we settle for anything less?
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