Mindful Tuesday: The Election Edition (Or How to Make Wise Decisions)

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Here’s a special Tuesday mindfulness edition in honor of the midterm elections. Also, I didn’t have time to write a blog post on Monday so that may have also played a role in this.

As I prepared to vote, I thought about how important it is to make mindful decisions. And how difficult that can be. Many people only listen to their emotions when making decisions or refuse to pay attention to information that doesn’t fit their beliefs. Many also don’t do the research to see if the “facts” actually have any evidence to support them.

I’ve always been one of those people who does very thorough research before making any major decision. But as we’ve gained access to more information than is possible to sort through and with much of that information suspect, I’ve had to rethink my decision making strategy in order to maintain my sanity.

Specifically as it relates to politics, I’ve become quite disillusioned. I’m sure many can relate. It seems the more I listen to so-called “grownups” debate, the more it sounds like third graders fighting over a ball on the playground rather than actual conversation. It’s embarrassing. Also, it’s amazing how many people confuse bullying for leadership.   

Despite this, I still believe in making my voice heard as best I can, including through voting for those I think are the best possible candidates and propositions that best serve us. Ultimately, it’s up to us to sort through the bs and find what grains of truth we can in order to think critically, go with our gut, and make wise decisions.

Now I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but I am going to share how I make mindful choices in hopes that you’ll do the same, especially when making decisions that affect all of us:

I keep my morals, values, and priorities at the forefront and ask myself if the decision I’m making is in line with those.

These may shift over time but it’s really important to be clear on these in order to even begin making a decision.

I still do research.

But I limit it both in quantity and quality. I try to only look at reputable, unbiased information with evidence to back up opinions. I also look at where the information is coming from. I want to know who has a stake in the information and decision and where my values line up with theirs. Particularly when it comes to elections, always follow the money folks!

I listen to others’ opinions with an open mind.

Even when I vehemently disagree. Especially when I disagree.

This isn’t easy but it’s incredibly helpful in making decisions. Sometimes they make a point I hadn’t thought of. Sometimes they direct me toward information I didn’t know. Sometimes I see creative solutions that just might make everyone happy. Sometimes they just reinforce my opinion even more. But at least I now have a more sound opinion.

P.S., Word to the wise: When trying to convince someone else of your point of view, remain calm, cool, and collected and give legit evidence to backup your point. Calling someone a poopy head just makes you look like a fool. And use any anger you may have to craft a sound, intelligent argument rather than simply screaming like a maniac.

I do the best I can.

There may not be a “perfect” choice and nothing is permanent. So if I (or we in the case of elections) make a decision that doesn’t work out so well, I (we) can make another choice. This time with more information gained from the previous one. Fatalism does nothing for us.

Sometimes I choose not to choose until I get more information.

Often, when a decision is difficult, we don’t have enough information to make it. If that information isn’t available and there aren’t any consequences in not making a decision, it’s also okay not to make a decision. Although, I suppose that in and of itself is making a decision.

Particularly, when it comes to voting, you don’t have to vote for everything. If you really can’t choose or as happened to me this election, can’t find any information on some of the candidates, leave it blank. Let (hopefully) more educated people make that decision. Or throw a dart.

I’ll leave it at that. Happy voting and further decision making to all!