Reason Versus Intuition

Emotion and intuition are “built in” mechanisms for decision making. Feelings like fear, anxiety, and empathy, tell right away something about a situation, and what should be done about it.

In contrast, one can of course use reason. Weight carefully all the factors involved, and analyze possible outcomes.

For big matters such as careers and relationships, it seems that reason would be the best choice, since what one “feels” like looks a bit too primitive and simplistic a method to rely on.

Not so, according to some prominent public figures:

Sigmund Freud: “When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves. In the important decisions of our personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature.”

Steve Jobs: “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Jim Carrey: “My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant, and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

Of course, these are people who “made it” doing what they love(d), so they are biased. Not everyone who wants to be a comedian (or entrepreneur, or psychologist) does well, including those who have chosen their professions by gut feeling. What is true is that in order to succeed (whatever that means), a lot of challenges should be overcome, and we’re more willing to work hard if we like what we do. And “to like” is a feeling.

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