The reason why the world seems to make bad decisions

The Road To Mental Wellness > Mental Health > The reason why the world seems to make bad decisions

What can be the reason why the world seems to make bad decisions. The answer may be rooted in these very ancient, human things.

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As I stroll my way through life, I often hear “Everyone seems to be making poor decisions. ” Don’t they?

I mean, I see people on motorcycles speeding wearing shorts and flip-flops. A phenomenon I didn’t see when I was a younger man. I don’t care what anyone says, there are things that are just so blatantly obvious, that you just don’t do them.

Other colossal missteps I see people take include: Speeding down the highway at ridiculous speeds; having their dogs sitting on their owner’s laps mere inches from the vehicle’s airbag; and not paying close enough attention to world events before making a financial decision. Just to name a few.

Let’s face it, these are some really troubling times we’re living in. With all the division, war, and pandemics, we are all operating on high alert.

And it’s this, “high alert” that I want to talk about. Can it be, in fact, true that we are making poor decisions?

Well, I believe the answer is, yes. But it’s not because we’re becoming dumber. Rather, it’s rooted in our neurology. I know, I know, so are dumb decisions. But hear me out.

However, in this post, we will go under the surface of the modern-day phenomenon to which I’m referring.

While our intellect may not be taking a hit, our sound judgment is. As you may know, our judgment has a lot to do with our reasoning abilities. So, then, what’s up with this type of impairment?

The Science

I think it’s fair to say that no matter what side of any modern-day argument you lean on, there is a lot of anxiety produced by it. So, whether you’re a vaxx supporter or an anti-vaxxer, for example, there is one thing both have in common – charged emotions.

Having charged emotions is not good because it renders us useless in a sense. How? Well, our emotions are regulated through our prefrontal cortex, the front region of the brain that makes you, well, you. This of course, includes your ability to problem-solve and reason. However, when we are living in high-stress environments, such as modern times, our stress response takes over.

This stress response is what is known as our fight, flight, freeze or fawn response. In a nutshell, it saved our butts from being eaten in our ancestor’s times. Controlled by a region of the brain known as the amygdala, two almond-shaped structures located deep in the brain (one for each hemisphere).

The reason why the world seems to make bad decisions - Illustration of the brain showing where the Amygdala is located.
Figure 1 – location of the Amygdala – The reason why the world seems to make bad decisions

Learn more about the brain

In simple terms, the amygdala is the producer of anxiety, and when you’re always anxious, you’re emotionally charged – and being emotionally charged on a constant basis, like we are today, shuts down your prefrontal cortex. When this occurs, it diminishes our ability to make rational decisions. Or if you will, we listen to react, not to listen to the other point of view.

I believe that it’s this constant barrage of angst that is helping to fuel the mental health crisis. For instance, doesn’t it seem to you like there are more and more people exhibiting poor judgement? I refer you to the motorbiking fella wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, a helmet and some flip-flops. Sadly, I see this on a regular basis.

While this is one example, I feel like I see it everywhere.

What we need to do is calm the globe down and start looking after our people. In other words, the powers-that-be must make the common folk a priority. A modern problem that immediately comes to mind is the rise of inflation. Inflation is killer for the everyday John and Jane, not because it’s necessary to “cool the economy,” but to ensure the shareholders keep getting their dividends.

Just imagine how quickly the world’s mental health woes would ease if our leaders took steps to lower the pandemic of greed and heighten the quality of life for all…?

Finally, we need those in power to actually work for us to end poverty, solve the housing crisis and regulate a fair wage (let’s rid the world of the barely-minimum wage). Furthermore, when we are all doing well, so too is our mental wellbeing.

You and I can do something now.

Does the problem seem too big to take on? Do you find yourself saying, “I’m only one person; what can I do to change the world?” Well, the good news is, you can do a lot.

Firstly, you can start by reading 5 ways to maximize your mental health.

And secondly, my advice to you is to take on the world, one person at a time. Thankfully for us, helping others isn’t really that hard. All it takes is for us to stop saying, “I should mow my neighbor’s lawn for them. Or “I should take in my mother’s trash bin from the curb;” and just acting on what we think. These small gestures of kindness can mean way more than you know. So act on those ideas. Be warned, be sure that you balance it all out so as to ensure your mental health is enhanced.

Despite the thoughts we have that say, “I need to take on the entire world,” this is simply not true.

I, for example, learnt this by authoring my book, The Road To Mental Wellness. I realized that I could help people one-on-one – while at the same time, help as many people who bought and read it.

You can also, for example, just listen. Even though listening seems like an innate thing we do, it is in fact, a skill that requires practice. Mainly, hearing other’s concerns consists of two things. Actually listening, and correct feedback. In other words, we need to work at it.

How? Well, it all starts with understanding that being a good friend, partner, or parent, starts with this: when it comes to the art of listening, please keep in mind that this brand of interaction doesn’t require you to reciprocate. At least not in the sense you’re used to.

Example of supportive communication

Doug, your long-time buddy comes to you and says:

“I have been feeling really low as of late.” He goes on further to say, “I have no energy, and everything is such a chore.”

In this case, our tendency may be to say, “Well, so am I, and I just suck it up.”

All you have done is pushed Doug further in the depths of despair. Think of it as your holding Doug from falling off a cliff and you decide to let him go because you started to feel a slight discomfort in your hand.

In psychological terms, that’s what you’re doing when you say things like “So do I.”

Say this instead.

“That must be so tough for you, to be so tired that it takes so much effort for you to do things. What can I do to help?” See, by parroting back what they said – like shown in this example – will open up the dialogue for solutions that center around Doug, not you.

Now, you’ve given him the floor to chat about it more.

Tip:

It’s okay if you feel like you’re over your head. Just be honest and say something like, “I don’t know how to help you, but I can help you find someone who can.” This doesn’t leave them alone to struggle. From there, you can be a “logistics supporter.” Offer to take them to their appointments, make a list of mentalhealth professionals, doctors etc.

I bet by now you are wondering what this all has to do with the reason why the world seems to make bad decisions. Well, in short, if we all do our part to ease the suffering of others, we can alleviate the overall stressors of the world. Lower levels of stress, make it easier for us to make better decisions – both individually and collectively.

Give it a try and let me know in the comments.

In crisis? Go to Crisis Services Canada

Front and back cover of the road to mental wellness - 8 sings your relationship is hurting your mental health.
Find out more below – Written for therapeutic release, published in hopes it helps you.

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The reason why the world seems to make bad decisions Copyright, 2022

Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental health blogger, S speaker, writer, and published author; He is also the host of the mental wellness podcast, #thewellnesstalksHe has also appeared in the i'Mpossible's Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental health talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental health advocacy organization; Sick Not Weak.Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental wellness journey while helping others along the way.Educated as an addictions' counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years, working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.His new book (2021), “The Road To Mental Wellness,” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one's life; right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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