The Surprising Science of How Feelings Help You Think: The Connection Between Emotions and Rational Processing


Hatched by Glasp

Jul 21, 2023

3 min read


The Surprising Science of How Feelings Help You Think: The Connection Between Emotions and Rational Processing

Emotions play a significant role in our everyday lives, influencing our thoughts and actions more than we realize. Contrary to popular belief, emotions are not distinct from each other, but rather exist on a spectrum, much like the colors of a rainbow. Additionally, the way we express and categorize emotions varies across different cultures. This raises the question of how emotions and language are related.

Emotion is not just a fleeting state of mind, but rather a functional state that affects our rational processing. It is a mistake to separate the rational and emotional mind, as they work in conjunction with one another. Emotions are used as a framework for logical processing, influencing how we evaluate information and the ideas we accept or reject. In fact, our unconscious mind often performs complex mental calculations that our conscious mind is unable to handle, resulting in gut feelings, hunches, and intuitions. This concept is reminiscent of the ideas presented in "Think Fast and Slow," where the mind is divided into system 1 and system 2.

Interestingly, our bodily states also impact our emotions and decision-making. For example, hunger can make us crave things that are not sustenance, while disgust can influence our acceptance of certain decisions without the need for extensive analysis. By being more conscious of our bodily and emotional states, we can gain a better understanding of our core affect and make more informed decisions. Research has shown that individuals who are more mindful tend to be happier and live longer. Therefore, incorporating mindfulness practices into our daily lives can have numerous benefits.

The connection between emotions and rational processing extends beyond individual well-being. Studies have demonstrated that people with better emotional regulation have significantly fewer heart attacks. This highlights the importance of emotional regulation not only for personal health but also for overall longevity. Furthermore, meditation has been shown to increase "executive control" in the brain, aiding in emotion regulation. By practicing meditation and other techniques aimed at enhancing emotional regulation, we can improve our overall well-being and decision-making abilities.

While emotions play a significant role in our lives, it is also essential to recognize the value of lifelong learning. Traditional educational systems often focus on a narrow window of time during which individuals are expected to acquire all necessary knowledge and skills. However, in a rapidly changing world, this approach is becoming outdated. Technological advancements and the need for constant skill refreshment necessitate a shift towards lifelong learning.

Universities and educational institutions must adapt to this changing landscape by providing students with foundational knowledge and up-to-date skills. By doing so, they can equip individuals with the future-proof skills necessary for lifelong learning, rather than simply preparing them for immediate job opportunities. Just as passports need to be periodically revalidated, diplomas could follow a similar model, ensuring that individuals stay updated in their fields. This would not only benefit individuals but also streamline administrative processes.

In conclusion, emotions and rational processing are intertwined, influencing our thoughts, actions, and decision-making. Understanding the connection between emotions and logical thinking can help us become more self-aware and make more informed choices. Incorporating mindfulness practices and improving emotional regulation can have a profound impact on our well-being and overall health. Additionally, embracing lifelong learning as the new norm can equip individuals with the skills needed to thrive in an ever-changing world. By recognizing the value of emotions and continuous learning, we can unlock our full potential and lead more fulfilling lives.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Practice mindfulness: Take a few moments each day to become aware of your bodily and emotional states. This self-awareness can help you make more conscious decisions.
  • 2. Incorporate meditation: Set aside time for meditation to enhance your emotional regulation and improve your overall well-being.
  • 3. Embrace lifelong learning: Recognize that learning is a lifelong journey and commit to constantly refreshing your skills and knowledge. Seek out opportunities for growth and development to stay ahead in an ever-changing world.

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