M5S1 Decision-Making, Mindfulness, and You

Module 5 Session 1 Mindfulness, Responsible Decision-Making, and You

April 2, 2019

CASEL defines their fifth competency of SEL, “responsible decision making”, as:

The ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms. The realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and a consideration of the well-being of oneself and others.

  • Identifying problems

  • Analyzing situations

  • Solving problems

  • Evaluating

  • Reflecting

  • Ethical responsibility

ethical decision making.jpeg

1.Reflection and Meditation on decision making

  • What is a decision you’re pondering recently? What are the ethical issues involved? Write about this for 3 minutes.

  • Now meditate

  • Now write more...what values are dearest to you? What values are needed in your life right now? What feels like the most ethical decision you could make in this instance, given the resources that you know you definitely have, and on the real-life timeline you’re working with?

2. Discuss

This fifth competency of SEL is its own group...linking the personal and the relational. Mindfulness embodied.

“Responsible” vs. “Ethical”

  • Social responsibility vs ethical responsibility

  • Eating meat to keep the peace socially vs. one’s ethical position about it

  • Being compliant for the sake of the whole, rather than our own wellness or our own values

“The gap between “ethical aspirations” and “ordinary ethical behavior”

Remember our definition of mindfulness...and your experiences with mindfulness (both long term AND your recent (just now) experience in meditation)

How can mindfulness affect decision making? Why?

3. Research

Gap between ethical aspirations and ordinary unethical behavior:

In many cases, decision makers hold high ethical standards, but fail to adhere to these standards. If lack of awareness is one contributing factor to this phenomenon, then the cultivation of awareness through mindfulness offers a possible avenue for curbing unethical behavior. Ultimately, greater mindfulness may enable us to close the gap between ethical aspirations and ordinary unethical behavior.

Appearance and identity as “Ethical”:

This indicates that more mindful individuals are less concerned with creating an outward image of themselves as ethical by, for example, buying products or joining clubs that signal these characteristics to others. Though we did not predict this relationship, it is consistent with the notion that mindfulness promotes a focus on internal versus external rewards; one interpretation is that while more mindful individuals care more about being ethical, they care relatively less about appearing ethical. Mindful individuals might also have a higher preference for authenticity, thus diminishing the importance of crafting a particular image to manipulate others’ perceptions of oneself.

Mindfulness improves decision-making because:

  • We tend to make decisions first and then rationalize them later (and trick ourselves into remembering the order differently!)

  • Even simple decisions are complicated

  • We are drive by sensations

  • We are all biased

  • We can be more open to multiple perspectives

  • Our brains can deceive us into making things that are really WANTS feel like NEEDS

  • Not making a decision is a decision -- we are good at rationalizing non-action

We closed with a short mindful breathing moment and a friendly reminder to KEEP PRACTICING DAILY :)

Excerpts and inspiration from this session came from: