The Heart of Decision-Making: Emotions

decision-making emotional intelligence emotions


Emotions are not mere byproducts of our lives but are actually the driving force behind our choices. They serve as our internal compass, guiding us through life's intricate web of decisions, big and small.

Many of our decisions are made to support our emotional desires. We pick a career, spouse, or friends that we hope will make us happy. We choose activities at certain times to help us change our emotional state.

For me, when I am feeling sad, I want to listen to sad music or even watch sad movies. (My go to for a quick moment of sadness is the scene with Bing-Bong from Inside Out). It is counter to what I would assume, but feeling more sad helps me get through my own sadness.

I wish I could say that logic was the key to making good decisions. While logic provides valuable insights, it's our emotional connection that often leads us to our final answer.

**The Impact of Emotional Brain Damage**

Additional insight on the emotional power of decision making comes from research in neuroscience. How do we know that damage to the emotional centers of the brain can have profound effects on decision-making? The answer came from studying people with brain damage in very specific locations.

Antonio Damasio studied people who had damaged their frontal cortex. The result was a loss of their emotional lives - they felt no emotions at all and even show no sign of normal reactions that derive from emotional response. These same individuals found that making decisions in everyday life was impossible. They had no guideposts for how to narrow down options or pay attention to long term goals. Their guideposts were missing, and their decisions suffered.

This case underscores the crucial role emotions play in our capacity to prioritize and make decisions. Our emotional centers help us weigh the potential outcomes, navigate ethical dilemmas, and connect with the human aspects of our choices.

**Nurturing Our Emotional Intelligence**

As we journey through life, nurturing our emotional intelligence is paramount. Understanding your own emotions, motivations, and the effect you have on others will provide you with so many benefits. It empowers us to make well-informed decisions that resonate with our true selves. It allows us to cherish the joy of vibrant wildflowers, make choices guided by the heart, and form connections with the world around us.

The lesson here is that emotions are to be listened to, not hidden. They are the shortcut to making better decisions so don't try to minimize them or discount them. Even worse would be to judge them in yourself or others, because that will cause more complex emotions to build up.

Listen to your emotions, choose your behaviors. The choice comes from the emotions, not in spite of them.

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