How the mind can undermine our ability to make the best choice

All we are is energy…and as far as our own aging is concerned, we can determine a lot about the vitality of our life by making the better choice. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? You, faced by decisions regarding what you eat (and how much), how much you should exercise, what to do about stress in your life, or your occupational and incidental exposures to toxins, simply weigh all the options and choose the best one you can!  For many of my patients “the best one” and the “very best one” are often not the same.


Why the “better” choice?


Allow me to digress and explain why I favor the “better” choice.  People (authors, counselors, friends and relatives) exhort you to make the “best” choice; they say you will recognize it;  it is proclaimed as what “you should do.”   With my patients I try to illustrate that there is a best choice (or two), but there exists also a sliding scale of “better” choices—upgrades, if you will. The will to improve is rooted in the fragile soil of self-love, and conditions dictate another path than the “best” one.  Rather than feel victimized or unworthy of the challenge, I encourage my patients to take the best step possible, to honor themselves and not give up the quest or their power.  The way forward is always ‘better’ than standing still.  We have a mind that requires steerage to achieve what matters to the soul housed in our body.


Dual-motive: why making better choices can be difficult


Why is it so difficult to harness the 100 billion brain cells that you have, and their connections to thousands of other brain cells, in order to  make the “right” decision? You may be falling victim to a dual-motive conflict.  This is where the “prominent” aspects of making that decision outweigh the “permanent” considerations—and you choose to have a piece of birthday cake, rather to stick to being gluten-free.  


Science tells us concrete and immediate goal or expectations wear heavier than abstract or distant ones.  It also tells us the the consequence for non-performance on an abstract goal doesn’t seem as “real.”  Psychologists call this a temporal discount, and it means that we are more likely to chose the closer, more tangible rewards than the intangible, or long term ones, even if the ultimate outcome would be greater.  


Therefore, to maintain long-term or more distant goals, it helps to be reminded of them, particularly when we can’t avoid temptation. Share your long term goal with a friend or colleague—this how you enforce accountability within yourself and bring those long-term or intangible goals to reality.


Contact me to learn more about improving your resiliency and life-expectancy, and for making better choices.  Let’s make a plan to upgrade your vitality today!

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