Decision making without critical thinking may seem ridiculous when you think about it. Because nowadays, thinking is something we do a lot of. To be able to think is valued in our society. In fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that most people only exist from the neck up!
But what about gymnasts, trapeze artists, top class athletes, mountain climbers and others who are involved in predominantly physical activities. These people make decisions, sometimes life or death decisions, without much thinking. Not that they can't think, but they simply don't have time to analyze, evaluate and reason. There is so little time between the input of information and the response, their actions, that there may be almost no mental cognition at all.
Another group in which this has been studied are elite performers. And this occurs in both physical performances and mental performances. It's almost as if there is no time delay between them taking in information and responding. Their systems are somehow organized for exquisite decision making without critical thinking. In fact this idea of decision making without critical thinking is often used as a marker for peak performance.
Most lay people consider that we actually think with our brains, that nervous tissue in our skulls. But remember that those nerves actually extend to the tips of your fingers and the ends of your toes. Now add in the fact that there are is a huge amount of nervous tissue in the gut and in the heart. And you begin to think that maybe it is possible that we're thinking with our whole system.
Most people are just not very aware of their bodies unless there is an ache or pain somewhere. Something that really grabs their attention. So how would they possibly notice the subtleties if their body was involved in decision making without critical thinking?
Another idea to add in here is the notion that we actually make our decisions emotionally.
Sure, we like to think that we make sensible, rational decisions. Our educational systems base their courses on rational decision making models. We want to know the steps of the latest decision making process because we want to know that we're making the best decision. We're warned about the dangers of letting our emotions take over, of decision making without critical thinking.
But what about when you hear somebody saying 'I know I really can't afford it, but if I buy it there will be this advantage and that advantage and I can justify it on that basis.' Hey, you may have even said something like this yourself!
What's happening is the decision-maker has already made up their mind that they want something (emotional decision), and now they use reasoning to justify it. This is the critical thinking part.
Many of the newer sales techniques make use of this idea that people decide emotionally first. Why would business people adopt this notion and pay lots of money for it? Because it works! They realize that if they utilize this natural mechanism, they will increase their profits. It's a very simple equation for them.
We have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. We have a decision making process in place. If this decision making process did not work, we just wouldn't have survived.
And the critical thinking piece is not necessarily a part of our decision making process. If one of our ancestors found himself face to face with a big cat, his natural decision making process would lead him to run away. If he was to engage in some critical thinking as to what the best decision might be, chances are it would have been the last decision he ever made!
But our environment has changed, I hear you say. We don't have to make such decisions anymore. And I agree.
But it does not mean that we should give up our natural process, that of decision making without critical thinking. As we've moved more into our heads and lost our awareness of our bodies, we've also lost our sense of ourselves.
Our ability to tune into natural rhythms is now almost nonexistent. Daylight extends into nighttime with our electric bulbs, and many people even start work in the morning before it has got bright. We heat ourselves up in the winter and cool ourselves down in the summer. And our physical bodies are paying the price.
We've got to the stage where decision making without critical thinking rarely occurs. Not because people don't want to, but because they can't. They're so unaware of their physical systems that they end up overriding the internal signals. The result, of course, is poor decision making and it's effects. Obesity, heart disease, lung disease, arthritis, autoimmune diseases as well as robberies, destruction and abuse.
When people relearn how to pay attention to their own internal signals so that they can go back to decision making without critical thinking, the relief is enormous. They make decisions that improve their health, their relationships and their performance at work.
They make different decisions about what to be doing in the world. Things that allow them to begin to have an influence on their lives in a way that's beneficial to themselves, to others and also to the environment. And they make decisions quickly and easily... decisions that allow them to have a life that is so much easier!
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