Improve decision making with heart-brain communication
The brain is the powerhouse of the body.
Or so we thought…
The heart organ, it turns out, has a mind of its own. Research shows that the heart doesn’t just take commands from the brain—heart-brain communication is a dynamic, two-way conversation.
Scientists were mostly interested in learning how the heart receives signals from the brain, but later discovered that the heart has a complex communication system of its own that sends more messages to the brain than vice-versa, and it does so in four ways: via neurological (nerve impulses), biochemical (hormones), biophysical (pulse wave) and energetic (electromagnetic field) communication methods.
Furthermore, in the 1960s and 70s, psychophysiology researchers observed that the heart organ communicates with the brain in ways that significantly affect how an individual perceives and reacts to the world. In the 90s, pioneer neurocardiologist Dr. J. Andrew Armour coined the term “heart brain” to express just how intelligent and communicative the heart is.
Vistage speaker Vered Kogan encourages business leaders to take this science to heart. If the heart organ holds such fantastic intelligence, what role does it play in decision-making?
“Most of your decisions are made at the heart level, and then you justify them with your logical thinking head brain,” says Kogan.
Business leaders can leverage the science to improve their decision-making capacity. Kogan says that strengthening the communication between the heart and mind “allows you to access intuitive intelligence so that you can make choices with even more clarity and certainty.”
Kogan suggests leaders initiate a simple daily practice to begin to tap into the incredible power of the heart organ for better decision-making. At the beginning of each day, leaders should take a few quiet, reflective moments to ask themselves two questions:
“What emotion am I feeling right now?”
Notice: Are you feeling stress, worry, or a sense of ease or excitement? Take a moment to pause and concentrate on what you feel like as you face the day ahead.
“How do I want to feel?”
People desire to feel the positive emotions—joy, motivation, inspiration, gratitude, awe, confidence.
If how you feel doesn’t align with what you want to feel, focus on one positive emotion you’d prefer, and think of the things that make you feel that emotion. Do you want to feel inspired? Search your memory for moments when you’ve been inspired—perhaps a movie you saw, a moment in nature you experienced, or a public speaker who gave you more insight. Do you want to feel gratitude? Think of three things for which you are grateful.
“It’s important to set a clear intention about how you want to feel because that primes your brain and body to feel that way,” says Kogan. “These two simple questions are so powerful for strengthening the partnership between the heart and brain so that you can recognize and shift sublet stress signals before they become chronic and impact your health and decisions.”
Science reveals that the heart is more than a mechanical pump. It is an organ as intelligent as the brain. Business leaders would be wiser to become cognizant of how their emotional state affects their approach to the day and to decision-making. Doing this, says Kogan, “will allow you to be more resilient, to think more clearly, access your intuition, and get better results.”