Do you regard yourself as the type who can put emotion aside in the search for the best way to live your life?

Do you step back from personal situations, political controversy and dispassionately weigh the pros and cons of every situation before rendering a decision? If you believe this to be true, then you are, for the most part, delusional!

At least that is the conclusion reached by Jonathan Haidt in his recent book.

In truth we frequently feel first, then rationalize our feelings later. We like or dislike someone rather quickly upon encountering them, then try to enumerate the qualities that we find appealing or not.

It seems as if we lead first with our emotions, our logical mind comes in a distant second.

Think about the people you like, the political parties that appeal to you, the religion or belief system that you champion. Your attraction is felt viscerally or based on your upbringing or the opinion of those you admire, or a reaction to some deeply emotional interaction you have experienced.

This might explain how two equally intelligent, articulate and logical individuals can come to such opposing opinions on a whole host of different topics.

As poet Theodore Roethke said, “we think by feelings, what is there to know?”

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