Logic vs. Emotion

When it comes to the big decisions, logic isn’t enough.

My dad was one of the most logical and practical people I’ve ever met. Every decision he made was thought through, costs and benefits were weighed, and more than that, he made decisions that not only benefitted him, but also the people he loved. He didn’t leave much to chance. He was a student of engineering and a doctor, so it made sense that he analyzed everything until the outcomes were almost predictable. Of course, there were still some variables he couldn’t anticipate, but life wouldn’t be life if there wasn’t at least a small degree of uncertainty involved.

I’ve tried to bring this logic-drive approach into my own life, and the results have been mixed. I’m not as smart as he was, and I know that, but I can’t help feeling like I’ve missed the main point of his approach, or at least one big factor. My dad was measured in a lot of ways, but there were certain decisions where he brought more than logic to the table. When he made the decision to become a doctor, his success was far from assured, but he threw himself completely into it. He was willing to take an unorthodox route to get to his destination, and even attended two years of medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico, in service of his dream. Being a doctor was his reason for being, and it was his absolute pleasure to do it every day. Logic must have played a role, but there was something else at play; emotion.

Logic is a good way to make the smaller decisions, and yet, when we use it to govern our lives, if we operate on 100% logic, it can let us down. I’ve made a number of decisions that looked good on paper, whether it’s been relationships, jobs, places to live, etc. Even if things went well for a time, I realized that my emotional needs were unmet, and I wound up feeling drained. We’re all looking for that approach we can use 100% of the time, and when it leaves us falling short, it can be frustrating. The most difficult thing to do is to tailor your approach to each particular situation, as it involves more thinking and analysis, and our time is finite. We want our decisions to be as simple and uncomplicated as possible.

I wasn’t always in-touch with my emotions, but I know that life without them is empty. I know that a gut feeling is something you should trust, that decisions should be made by you and you alone, as long as the people around you won’t be affected by them. You can consult outside sources, but you should have your decision made early on. You should feel strongly about the direction you’re going in. You should feel a conviction about it, and be able to defend it against people who will poke holes in it. You should be able to see it clearly, able to identify the flaws, while knowing that there’s a feeling inside of you that you can’t control, a feeling that’s pushing you in this particular direction.

Emotion is key, and yet, it can also let you down. Sometimes you reach inside, internalize your problem or question, and you hear nothing back. That’s been the most frustrating answer of all, and that’s when I’ve resorted to logic to make decisions. I will tell you firsthand that when you’re indecisive, when you’re not sure which way to go, that’s not a great sign. Logic is important, and not having a strong feeling can throw you off, but that should tell you right then and there that you’re not passionate about what you’re choosing, and that you may regret your choice.  You may wind up pleasantly surprised, but those moments in my life have been rare. When your choice doesn’t end up working out, you learn from the mistake, but I’d like to avoid as many as I can in a life that’s been chock full of them.

I’ve agonized over decisions, gone back and forth, and still not known what to do. Of course, the bigger decisions, the real life-changers, these take longer. You realize that the ramifications of your actions are huge, that the decision will change everything, and the last thing you want to do is rush it, knowing that it won’t be easily reversible. These decisions tend to take longer, but deep down, you should know what you want to do pretty quickly. You may not want to tip your hand to people you love, for fear of what they’ll say. You may want them to think that they’re part of the process, but you know what the right course of actions is, and you knew it a long time ago

The key is to find where logic and passion/emotions meet. You can’t have one without the other. When you make a big decision based on logic, it may make sense at the beginning, but you’ll realize that whatever you’ve chosen won’t work in the long-term. You may not be miserable, but you’ll walk away each day wondering if you’re doing the right thing, when you were so sure you made the right choice. Logic can take the human element out of a decision, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when you go where you thought you were supposed to, only to realize that you’ve hit a dead end.

If you roll off of pure emotion, then you’ll act too quickly, not thinking anything through. You maybe happy at first, and the passion can give you a rush, but when the passion fades, you may be heartbroken when you realize that the logistics of a situation don’t make sense, or aren’t to your liking. Rather than waiting to see what develops, you’ll move from situation to situation, chasing that next emotional high, and never giving anything a true chance to take root and blossom.

Decisions should be made where emotion and logic intersect. A little bit of each will help you to make a decision you can feel good about, two halves that will add up to a whole. When you subtract one from the equation, you’re going to end up disappointed, and feeling like something is missing. As people, we tend to overcomplicate things. Trust yourself and your gut, add a little logic in for good measure, and you can’t go wrong. Thanks for reading.

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