“Hence, in order to have anything like a complete theory of human rationality, we have to understand what role emotion plays in it.” – Herbert Simon, 1983, Reason in Human Affairs
Every decision, even the one that we perceive as very rational, is an emotional decision. Neurologists have discovered that people with damages to the emotional centres of the brain that impaired their emotions and feelings, lose the ability to make decisions and act even if they can list many reasons to do it.
Logic can help us find the reasons to act, but it’s our emotions that compel us to take action.
“It is emotion that allows you to mark things as good, bad, or indifferent.” – Antonio Damasio
Emotions and feelings transform what we experience into things we want to cultivate or avoid in the future. Anytime we perceive a cue, emotions tell us what the action or decision that will make us feel good is.
“You learn what to do in the future based on what you were rewarded for doing (or punished for doing) in the past. Positive emotions cultivate habits. Negative emotions destroy them.” — James Clear
I often got trapped in endless thinking trying to understand what the right decision is. I created spreadsheets, tables and complicated systems. All in the hope of making a rational choice. And it helps. Don’t get me wrong, the reasoning is essential in decision making. But it’s only when I take care of my emotions that I really move forward.