Twelve Minutes of Mindfulness Can Help You Avoid Bad Decisions

Bad decisions can be avoided if you just take 12 minutes to be mindful of your thoughts. It may help you to control your impulses to pick up that piece of cake.

Bad decisions—we've all made them, but we'd prefer not to repeat them. It can be anything from eating a piece of cake to choosing a bad partner during last call at the bar. Impulses arise in the moment and it's hard to take control. But Tom Jacobs of the Pacific Standard has found a study that concludes taking 12 minutes to be mindful of yourself might free you from the motivation to pursue that cake and one-night-stand.

Esther Papies, a Utrecht University psychologist who led the study, says that:

“Mindful attention keeps strong temptations from developing in the first place.”

If you know you're itching for some sweets, you can pause and turn your attention to these impulsive thoughts. This mindfulness allows you to dissect and recognize your feelings before they grow into an action plan to track down candy or comfort food.

In one experiment, the research team took 114 university undergrads about to walk into the campus cafeteria one-third of them took a 12-minute mindfulness course. Before they sat down to eat, two groups viewed images of healthy and unhealthy foods, but in one group researchers we told to “simply observe all their responses” and notice “how they arise, and possibly dissipate, as passing mental states." The second group was observed by researchers “closely, and in a relaxed manner.” A third group didn't see any photos, but were asked to scale their hunger.

Those who took the mindfulness course consumed the same amount of calories, but made more healthy food choices (i.e. salads over chips).

“Mindful attention led to healthier choice patterns among all participants, regardless of their chronic dieting goal.”

The same idea can be used when sexual desire strikes. If you're itching to have sex, anyone who is available starts to look appealing. You have stars in your eyes when you look at someone across the room, but once you take note that your impulse is nothing more than just that—an impulse--the magic starts to fade.

“...when participants were instructed and trained to see that their experiences were mere thoughts, constructed by their own minds, the stimuli themselves became less attractive, and resisting them became easier.”

Before you make a decision you may regret, it might be best to take 12 minutes to step back and observe. The cake will still be there and the guy or girl across the room might be, too.

Read more at Pacific Standard

Photo Credit: Evgeny Atamanenk/ Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less