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Can Bonsai Promote Better Decision Making?

Involving nature to uplift those looking to improve their mental health has always been a popular home remedy, maybe a given. But it can be that simple. Isaac Newton would be very impressed with our ground-breaking studies in the sciences, however, he was on to something when he said: "Nature is pleased with simplicity. And nature is no dummy".

Studies assessing psycho-physiological stress concluded that people subject to natural views or immersing themselves within natural landscapes (rather than urban) showed: decreased stress, improved mood and better performances on attention tests. Impressive, eh.

So where does improving my decision making fit into all of this?

Firstly, its important to know that you can learn to make better decisions, despite what hindsight may lead some of us to believe, and using the art of bonsai as a practical application can allow you to minimise the emotional intensity in the decision making process. Emotions will play a fundamental role in making the most optimal decisions but what we're looking for is the ability to maintain emotional control.

Working with bonsai, such as Ficus or Elm with their s fast-growing nature, can assist the two main types of emotions associated with decision making:

1) Incidental Emotions - Those emotions which sit in the background, unrelated to the decision

As we've discussed, studies suggest that being hands on with nature can help reduce stress. Making decisions when stressed can be high risk, unpredictable; stress is an emotion that's hard to bring under control and should be minimised.

2) Integral Emotions - Emotions triggered by the decision

This is where we can really utilise the daily needs of some types of bonsai as a way to emotionally adapt to the situation. What we're looking to do here is bring our emotions under control and minimise any emotional biases (whether the bias is known to you or not).

Research suggests that even just 10 minutes between choice and decision is enough time to bring integral emotions back to a more neutral state. A study in 2013, looking at the use of anger with decision making, concluded that triggering an angry emotive response in participants negatively influenced their immediate decisions. However, when this decision was delayed by 10 minutes, it reduced the impact the anger had on the decision process.

So we know that time delay can help regulate our emotions and improve our decision making. We also know that the time with our bonsai can help reduce stress and in prove our mood. Coupling this together can aid us in really understanding the decision we're faced with and give us the setting to evaluate the repercussions of your options.

So where should our mind be, exactly?

The answer to this lies with our bonsai. Research shows that even just switching from emotionally-charged tasks to neutral ones (such as watering, pruning or just observing your bonsai), you can improve your emotion regulation and increase your resilience to stress. Take a moment for your mind to catch up, and away you go.

The art of bonsai can be such a wonderful thing <3