There’s a common misunderstanding regarding the relationship between reason and emotion. People think that, in forming a worldview or making a decision, you can be motivated either by deep feeling or cold, emotionless rationality.
In fact, reason and emotion are intertwined on a neurobiological level. For example, if you think about something terrifying that happened to you long ago, emotional parts of your brain activate and you secrete stress hormones. Or if you’re in an agitated, frightened state, you may suddenly make a decision that’s imprudent or even ridiculous.
How can knowing this impact your decision-making process? If you have an important decision to make, try to do so when you’re well rested and comfortable. Or if you feel agitated, try reflecting on a memory of a calm, happy experience. The reflection may help calm your nervous system.
For more fascinating explorations of big questions, check out our Instaread on Making Sense.