Happiness – an argument for emotion over reason

Happiness – an argument for emotion over reason

In a recent column by one of Australia’s leading economic commentators, Ross Gittins writes about the following…

There’s a famous case in neuroscience of a man whose brain was damaged in a way that stopped him feeling emotions. He was a living example of homo economicus – the completely rational calculator of what course of action would suit him best.

And, in fact, he was very good at carefully itemising and weighing the pros and cons of every choice he faced.

There was just one problem: he could never make up his mind. He would just go on weighing the pros and cons forever.

See the point? Being able to coolly and carefully evaluate the choices we face is a valuable skill. But to motivate us to pick one option over another – to make us care about one more than the others – we need our emotions.

As the very words suggest, motivation comes from emotion. And if motivation is a good thing then emotion must be good, too.

Saatchi and Saatchi, the British advertising agency, likes to repeat the conclusion that “reason leads to conclusions; emotion leads to action”.

To read the rest of Ross’ column – click here

But the reason for referring to this is not to spark your interest in economic decision making but to invite you to consider that there’s a pretty good chance that something similar is going on when it comes to happiness.

Logic and good decision making will only get us so far in the happiness game; in addition, I suggest, we need to learn to understand and appreciate all the various imperfections that go along with all the various human emotions (good and bad).

If action leads to happiness then we can learn to use emotions to lead to action (which will then take us to happiness).

Your thoughts?