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The next time you’re on the fence about something important, just give yourself a few minutes and you’ll know exactly which direction to take.
According to a new study published in the latest issue of the journal Psychological Science, one 15-minute mindfulness meditation session may be all you need in order to make smarter decisions. Not only will this practice help you focus on the here and now, but it will also counteract what experts call a “sunk-cost bias”—the type of behavior defined as when someone refuses to admit his or her mistake and continues to live in misery (i.e. wrong job, wrong home, wrong partner) because conceding would mean their effort was one huge waste of time.
"We found that a brief period of mindfulness meditation can encourage people to make more rational decisions by considering the information available in the present moment, while ignoring some of the other concerns that typically exacerbate the 'sunk cost bias,” stated Andrew Hafenbrack, lead study author and doctoral candidate at INSEAD (one of the world’s leading and largest graduate schools), as reported by ScienceDaily.
Researchers conducted a few experiments to test this theory. In one of them, study volunteers were divided into two groups and asked to listen to a 15-minute recording of a mindfulness coach. Group number one was instructed to practice a focused-breathing meditation, while the other group was told to focus on whatever random thoughts popped into their mind (which is the opposite of meditation).
Once the 15-minute session was over, both groups were asked to answer a list of “sunk-cost” scenario questions. (For example, “Would you still attend a concert, even though you were ill, the weather sucked and you were pretty much guaranteed a bad time?”). They were also asked if they primarily focused on the past, present or future during their 15-minute brain exercise.
The result: Group number one had an “increased resistance” to the sunk-cost behavior, which meant they made better choices. “This tool is very practical," said study co-author Sigal Barsade. "Our findings hold great promise for research on how mindfulness can influence emotions and behavior, and how employees can use it to feel and perform better."
This research adds to the other recently proven benefits of meditation (it can encourage a “measurable influence” on the brain and be used as a treatment for people who suffer from depression, anxiety and pain) as reported by TIME magazine.
Not sure how to get started? Stay calm—it’s easier than you think.