Friday, 25 September 2015


When I am on form I can make good solid decisions but when I am feeling a bit low or stressed my decision making capacity reduces substantially. At these stressful times I am tempted to just not make decisions at all.... which if you think about it (and also hubby says) deciding not  to decide is a decision in and of itself! So I guess we are constantly making decision to do this or that or not do this or that the case may be. 
Today I am in a "not sure what job to do first" mood... I have lots of things that I could be doing and perhaps should be doing but I am struggling to decide.....

A few days ago I came across a tweet with an article by Time magazine called "The four rituals that will make you happy according to neuroscience"  and it shed a little light on decision making and a few other things. These four ritual behaviours that we can do, will  stimulate and effect parts of our brain to create the effect of happiness.

Number one ritual was Ask a question...  The example they gave was to ask the question "What am I grateful for? ....guess what my last post was on? You got it Journalling and gratitude.....

" The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine…"

"One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex." 

It is great when the universe somehow brings you news and reassurance that you are on the right track... I've felt for some time that the practice of gratitude helps, but now I have scientific proof too!

The next practice was on Labeling Emotions... when we are feeling sad and blue or angry or fearful, if we can identify the emotion and label it, then it has a way of stimulating the part of our brain that  reduces the actual emotion... how clever is that? Isn't our human body and mind just brilliant?

 "…in one fMRI study, appropriately titled “Putting Feelings into Words” participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant’s amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact."

Interestingly, once again another previous post was  all about this too.... see "what I learned from Inside out" on my experience of learning to label emotions. 

The third ritual was:- Make a decision! ...hence my comments earlier... decision making can be hard and we often want to make the RIGHT decision and not mess things up. Apparently according to neuroscience, just making a decision and not worrying about making the absolute 100% best decision, is good enough to put our brains at ease and  reduce worry and anxiety. Deciding, lets the brain feel like it is in control and has a stress reducing effect. Wow!  

 "Trying for the best, instead of good enough, brings too much emotional ventromedial prefrontal activity into the decision-making process. In contrast, recognizing that good enough is good enough activates more dorsolateral prefrontal areas, which helps you feel more in control…"

So guess what?  I decided to not worry about doing all the paperwork, or the garden, or booking the suitcases on the plane for the next holiday and I have decided to sit here and do something that I enjoy doing until I am in the frame of mind to decide to do something else. The  decision,  may not  be ideal and get all the things  done that need doing but it IS a decision and apparently that is good enough for now to reduce  any anxiety and stress and make me happy  : ) (until the next decision comes rolling along) 
I know that with every choice comes a consequence and sometimes we have to be willing to make a choice and chance getting it wrong, but I also feel that this is how we ultimately learn ... and  doesn't life have a way of pointing this out to us? At the end of the day if a decision is wrong... we can always change it. 

So what was the fourth ritual that can make us happy? Well I guess you will have to read the article itself to find out. Go on.... make a decision and click here!


Do you struggle  at times with making decisions?
What are some methods you use to overcome indecisiveness?

The Time article was written from information from Alex Korb's book "The Upward Spiral"

1 comment:

  1. Emotions are interesting to me and I enjoyed this post with the Scientific proof to improve our attitudes. Thankfulness and gratitude can be healing as we count our blessings. Naming those emotions can be helpful too. I learned a long time ago, to name the negative and tell it I don't want it. Then name the positive opposite and embrace it. I did this in prayer and have found it a tremendous help to keep my attitudes positive. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.


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