The Benefits Of Being Mindful For Better Decision Making
Updated: Mar 16
Being mindful of this moment can be calming and help us to relax and focus on what is going on right now. But don’t get me wrong, life isn’t all about this one moment and what’s happening now. It’s also about your future. Stay with me a couple of minutes and find out why.
If you’ve ever sat on my couch for a therapy session, you’ve probably gotten the homework suggestion. “See how long you can sit in the moment and just be mindful of everything around you.” Allowing ourselves to sit in the silence of this present moment and listen is not as easy as it sounds. It is an acquired skill and something we should all practice. Listening to our bodies, noticing our thoughts, feelings, and the sounds of nature all around us can be very enlightening and teach us a lot about ourselves. Prayer is a great example of sitting in the moment with one focus. It is usually in the stillness that we have those aha moments. Does this mean not to look ahead or examine how today affects tomorrow? Not at all. Actually, didn’t yesterday have a hand in bringing us to who and where we are today?
As I was listening to the assistant pastor speak this morning, my body stiffened, and my head instantly faced the pulpit, and locked like an English Pointer who had found the prize bird. I heard the phrase, ‘Discounting the Future’. He mentioned psychology, and anything with the word psychology lingering close by tends to get my attention. With purpose, I listened to his warnings concerning how discounting the future is the idea of thinking in terms of only our needs in this present moment, without thinking of how today might affect tomorrow. Instantly, I thought of how mindfulness might be confused with the idea of discounting the future and couldn’t wait to get started on a blog about it.
All around us we are bombarded with the sayings, why shouldn’t we have everything now? And we deserve it.” Ever since the credit boom in the early 1900’s, we tend to buy most things through the installment plan in order to have them right now, and sometimes this leads to poor decision making and reaping the consequences of purchasing beyond what we can afford. Not only can 'discounting the future' apply to buying beyond our means, but also within romantic relationships, such as hasty marriages, divorces, and anger outbursts. For example, we either want it now or we don’t want to deal with it now, and this can include on the spot decisions in how we discipline and raise our children, and whether we choose to take time now to deal with the uncomfortable stuff inside ourselves or choose to mask it in the moment with substances and distractions. These are all recipes for disaster. Every action has a resulting consequence that we must eventually deal with because tomorrow will arrive and with it possible regret and self-loathing.
We can’t change the past and living in regret is not healthy. If asked, each of could probably look back and wish we had done certain things differently. I know I do but living with the concept of discounting the future will lead us right back to where we are right now … with regret and self-loathing and a bucket full of should-of’s, could-of’s, and would-of’s.
Why not nip that in the butt right now with taking a peek into the future before the decision is made and pausing for a moment to hypothetically deal with the aftermath of today’s decision. Being mindful is not ignoring the future or giving us a free pass to irresponsibly act without recourse within the moment. Actually, being mindful of this moment will help us slow down and think as we train our mind to wait and ponder and realize how today’s decisions can affect our tomorrow. Mindfulness is being aware of our present moment without judgment. Being still enough to notice what is within and outside of us and being able to sit with it. Noticing and being fully aware inside the quiet. It is not ignoring the consequences of our actions to fulfill desire or need. To just be for a moment is stilling the busy mind and letting go of all the chaos that surrounds us in order to hear what’s really important. And within this quiet may come wisdom.
This reminds me of when God spoke to Elijah in 1 Kings 19: 11-13. God wasn’t in the wind. He wasn’t in the earthquake; He wasn’t even in the fire … He was in the gentle whisper.
11. The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
If we are so distracted by all the noise, how can we hear what’s inside the whisper?
Are you battling how to still the noise that’s all around you? Take a moment and close your eyes, breathe in deeply and slowly exhale … and just listen. Focus on your breath, your drumming heartbeat inside your ears, and let yourself hear the stillness, and you may just find tomorrow’s wisdom in the gentle whisper of this moment.