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Feelings: what's the point of rational thought if emotions always take over?

Feelings and reason are better friends than we believe

They feed and reinforce one another. The best rational decisions take feelings into account.

If you want to go on a diet for example, the best option is not always picking the one with the smallest calorie intake, but the one that you like the most and can stick with.

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Feelings: what's the point of rational thought if emotions always take over?

Feelings: what's the point of rational thought if emotions always take over?

https://theconversation.com/feelings-whats-the-point-of-rational-thought-if-emotions-always-take-over-128592

theconversation.com

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Key Ideas

Reason and emotions in decision making

Decision making is a complex process, that engages both reasoning and emotions. Even the most emotional person uses rational thought when deciding, and even the most rational person is affected by emotions when making decisions.

Still, we often tend to highlight the negative role of emotions in decision making.

Being entirely rational

It may seem like life would be easier this way, but evolution has supported the development of feeling and thinking exactly because we need them both.

Feelings handle our desires and needs now (immediate decisions when danger is imminent), while rationality is preserving our interests and wellbeing in the future (we would lose interest in anything that doesn’t provide us with instant pleasure without it).

Feelings and reason are better friends than we believe

They feed and reinforce one another. The best rational decisions take feelings into account.

If you want to go on a diet for example, the best option is not always picking the one with the smallest calorie intake, but the one that you like the most and can stick with.

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Self-distancing

The act of increasing the psychological distance from your own subjective perspective when assessing events that you experience.

Is an external perspective that you can use when th...

Benefits of self-distancing
  • It can help people cope with difficult events from their past.
  • It can  help people deal with socially distressful situations.
  • Useful because of our tendency to display high levels of wise reasoning when we give advice to others, but not when we decide how to act for ourselves.
  • It reduces decisional biases and improves decision-making during times of information overload.
How to create self-distance
  • Use self-distancing language:  refer to yourself in the second or third-person.
  • Try to view the situation from an alternative viewpoint, that is different from your own.
  • Try to visualize the perspective of  someone you admire, and then ask yourself what would they do in that situation.
  • Try expressive writing: write about your thoughts and feelings when you’re trying to analyze an event that you’ve experienced.
Our emotions are short-term biased

Our emotions are obsessed with the present moment because it’s difficult to look past our immediate fears and anxieties. And this prevents good decision-making.

The sweet spot in de...

“Risky” behavior you should consider
  • Propose “moonshot” ideas, knowing that 90% of them will get shot down, but that if one of them gets accepted, it will be a huge boost to your career.
  • Be excessively bold in your dating life, stating exactly who and what you want.
  • Buy difficult books expecting that most of them won’t be useful to you, but also that, occasionally, one will completely change your life.
  • Say yes to every invitation knowing that most of the events/people will be boring, but that occasionally you’ll meet someone really interesting.
Optimizing life for fewer regrets

Most of us are afraid of messing thing up. But we rarely ask, “Would I regret that failure?” If the answer is “no,” then that is absolutely a risk you should pursue.

Sometimes, the right decision becomes crystal clear when put into these terms.

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Intuition as a tool

Emotions and intuition are not fallible tools that always need to be ignored or even corrected by rational faculties,.

Intuition is the result of a lot of processing that happens in the brain...

Predictive processing framework

Research suggests that the brain is a large predictive machine, constantly comparing incoming sensory information and current experiences against stored knowledge and memories of previous experiences, and predicting what will come next. This is described in what scientists call the “predictive processing framework”.

This ensures that the brain is always as prepared to deal with the current situation as optimally as possible.

The two thinking styles
Intuitive thinking is described as automatic, fast, and subconscious. Analytic thinking, on the other hand, is slow, logical, conscious and deliberate. Analytic and intuitive thinking are not opposites. They are complementary and can work in concert.

Even groundbreaking scientific research may start with intuitive knowledge that enables scientists to formulate innovative ideas and hypotheses, which later can be validated through rigorous testing and analysis.

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"Good" Decisions

  • Logical decisions tend to trump emotional ones, since emotions can sometimes make us biased or see things in an inaccurate light.
  • Thought-out decisions tend to trump ...

Step away from the problem

Distancing yourself from a problem can help you face it in a more objective way. 

Instead of remaining in your own frame of mind, consider yourself as an outside observer, such as a friend giving advice or a fly on the wall. Removing yourself in this way helps you filter out some of your cognitive biases and lean you toward a more rational decision.

Give yourself some time

Accuracy and reliability in decision making tends to increase if you first give yourself some time to decompress and collect yourself.

This may also help you remove yourself from the problem, knocking out two of these strategies at a time.

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Sadness and Cigarettes

Our moods and emotions play a powerful role in our behavioral choices and health.

Extensive studies show that sadness is related to tobacco use, with people wanting to puff away mor...

Emotions lead to feelings

Being aware of the constant dance between emotions and feelings could improve your decision-making ability.

  1. Every feeling begins with a stimulus.
  2. The stimulus leads...
Focus on the resulting feeling

We need to understand how any particular emotion (root cause) will translate into a feeling (symptom).

The six emotions are broad categories, while the feelings are specific to describe what is going on in our bodies. For instance, disgust (emotion) may result in 'loathing' or 'detestable' feelings.

When you have to make a decision, always track your feeling to the resulting emotion to find the root cause.

Develop a working awareness
  1. Name what you are deciding.
  2. Name all the feelings you are experiencing in connection with the decision.
  3. Identify the root cause of the feelings you are experiencing in connection with your decision.
  4. Identify the emotions connected to these feelings.
  5. Process the emotion.
  6. Consider if you want to make a decision from this emotion or change course.
Tradeoffs
Every decision we take, has a tradeoff, an opportunity cost. Instinctively we try the all-out approach, resulting in failure.
The real problem lies in our judgm...
Striving for Everything

A tradeoff is inevitable in almost every decision we take, as we usually forego some opportunity or benefit in our choices.

Many people strive for everything and believe there are no tradeoffs.

Focussing on less can get you something but focusing on everything may get you nothing.

Having "Everything"

We seem to think that the people around us have everything in life.

Tradeoffs in others take time to become apparent. Everyone lets go of something, making a sacrifice, to be able to focus, investing time and energy in what is important to them.

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Decision-making errors

Most decision-making errors boil down to:

  • logical fallacies (over-generalizations, comparing apples and oranges, circular thinking)
  • limiting beliefs (underes...
Confirmation Bias

If you already have an opinion about something before you've even tried to figure it out, chances are you'll over-value information that confirms that opinion.

Think about what kinds of information you would expect to find to support alternative outcomes.

Attribution Bias

The “fundamental attribution error,” is when we excuse our own mistakes but blame other people for theirs.

Give other people the chance to explain themselves before judging their behavior.

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Analogy

An analogy is a comparison that asserts a parallel between two distinct things, based on the perception of a shared property.

Analogies appear in metaphors, similes, political...

An analogy is a tool

Analogies are arguments that operate unnoticed. Like icebergs, they conceal most of their mass and power beneath the surface.

Analogies are also used in innovation and decision making. For instance, the "bicycle for the mind” that Steve Jobs envisioned as a Macintosh computer.

The importance of a good analogy

Using analogies help us to communicate effectively. For example, Warren Buffett noted "You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out,” meaning when times are bad, hidden weaknesses are exposed.

Lack of awareness of an analogy's influence can come at a cost. The ability to construct a good analogy can help you reach your outcomes.

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