Making Good Decisions

I was out running for exercise on a recent Sunday around 7 a.m. It was a little warm—this is summer in Mississippi, after all—but I was fine.

A lady pulled over in her car to inform me that I was crazy for running in such hot weather. I kindly thanked her for this valuable information and told her to have a great day. The woman's appearance left no doubt in my mind that she would benefit from an exercise program. As she drove off, I noticed her license plate: "NUMB1RN." It confirmed my suspicions. As a nurse, she knows that exercise would be good for her, but apparently, it wasn't what she decided to do.

I inform my patients of the importance of eating healthy and exercising, but few patients take my advice on the first visit. The most common excuse is that they don't have time.

We subconsciously prioritize things using multiple variables and often have many components to the process. We are emotional creatures. In many instances, we "think" with our heart or feelings instead of our brains, and we fail to apply rational decision-making to the challenges of life. We go back to bad relationships, eat unhealthy foods and stay out late when we know we should be resting.

For most adults, luckily, decision-making become clearer as we mature. We finally realize that the bad relationship is not going to get better and leave, for example. We understand that staying out late makes us less productive at work. Through experience, most of us learn to make better decisions. The exception may be our own health: Most Americans never learn the importance of living healthier until it is too late.

Mississippi is making strides to become healthier. For example, during the last session, the state Legislature passed a law to allow local authorities to financially support farmers markets, and numerous organizations have programs to make healthy changes to school lunch options.

Individual Mississippians are trying to make changes in our culture as well. Educators are stressing the importance of making healthy choices with youth. Most restaurants now provide healthy menu selections. Every weekend, you'll find walks, 5Ks, marathons, bike events and numerous healthy sporting events where just about anyone can participate. Numerous TV and magazine ads turn our subconscious minds toward living healthier.

We are making strong attempts toward becoming a more health-conscious society, but to become truly healthier, we have to make better decisions based on our awareness and follow through with actions.

Decisions are a combination of multiple factors, including learned information, past experiences and emotions. By reading this article, we hope readers will become more cognitive of the decision-making process. You can limit the impact of factors, such as emotions, that cause you to make decisions not in your best interests.


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