Well, of course your head needs your body in order to survive. But you may not realize that it also needs your body for decision-making. Here’s why.
Your mind alone doesn’t know what you want. Facing a menu, a choice of activity, or a life decision, it has no idea where to start. It may know what you “should” want, or what you’ve wanted in the past, but it doesn’t have the tools to sense your needs and desires at the present moment.
Your body, on the other hand, does know that. Your gut knows whether you want chicken or fish right now. It knows whether you feel like going out or staying in tonight. It knows whether you’re happier in the city or in the country. Your body is where you experience the sensations of hunger, desire, contentment, disgust, longing, emptiness, fullness, joy, etc.
The secret to good decision-making is for your mind and body to work as a team. Your brain has to listen to your heart about what it’s longing for, to your body about what it’s hungry for. Your mind can then figure out how to get what you want. If you’re hankering for an apple, your brain knows to look in the fridge or go to the grocery store. If you live in a city but find you really miss living somewhere more rural, your brain can figure out the many steps you’d have to take to make the move.
None of this means the body should call all the shots, though. Your mind can and should weigh in with offsetting factors. If your taste buds are asking for chips, your brain can point out that some olives would actually keep you feeling full longer and better fit your long-term health goals. (Occasionally you can indulge cravings that aren’t so healthy—you just want your brain to guide your body so it doesn’t happen all the time.) Similarly, if your body is tempted to jump into bed with that hot stranger, your mind can point out the damage that would do to your marriage.
So paying attention to your body’s input isn’t about indulging impulses. Instead, it’s your brain checking in regularly about what’s going on in your body so you can learn what you need to feel joyful, in balance, “right” within yourself. Start to notice the information coming from your gut and your heart (including what feels good after you’ve made a choice). What you learn from your body will tip you off to what you need today—and to the changes you might make to be happier in the future.