Updated: Sep 28, 2019
One thing I struggled with a lot when I was younger was making decisions. Now, not so much.
Decision-making still comes easier some days than others. There are days—for me usually Tuesdays—when simple decisions seem overly complex. On these days, I used to do one of two things: procrastinate or ask someone’s advice.
“Chris, which shirt?” I asked my husband last Tuesday. Then I caught myself.
I never used to catch myself. I would sometimes dwell over silly decisions, such as what to wear or eat. Nowadays, if I catch myself changing my shirt for no good reason or being indecisive about what to eat for dinner, I know that I need to do one of two things: write or meditate. If nothing else, I need a deep breath.
Meditation, at its core, is really just a self-study of the brain. What drew me into the practice, in fact, were all the big promises attached to pop-news articles about the cognitive benefits. What kept me were the (very) subtle but consistent results.
The frontal lobe is responsible for executive functioning. It enables us to recognize patterns, practice self-control, to concentrate, and to make decisions.
A few ways to exercise the frontal lobe include exercise and deep breathing—anything that gets oxygen to the brain. It also includes games that test our ability to recognize patterns. Conversely, challenging ourselves to try new things (break patterns) is a way to rewire. I put together a short meditation/visualization on how to trust intuition.
Here’s where the big guns come in. The big guns meaning fiction. To envision what it must be like to live another’s life is an exercise that can stretch us to expand reality and think about the world in new, more dynamic ways.
“Um, that one,” my husband said. He pointed to the one nearer him. I’m pretty sure proximity was the only reason, but because I had caught myself and caught the fact that to ask another person what I should wear is sluggish mental behavior, I thanked him.
Sometimes what we dwell on says a lot about our psyche. It's not necessarily about the thing itself but the action we find ourselves repeating. Self-observation provides simplistic but profound formulas for living our best lives and countering all the bullshit that stunts our ability to think, be, and show up optimally.
Last Tuesday, I wore a green, button-up shirt instead of a purple pull-over. This is unimportant. More importantly, last Tuesday, I caught a useless thought cycle and pushed past it.