Ch1 L49: Summary (Part II)

  1. To pick up where we left off, emotions helped us learn and evaluate the world around us in a binary way. Things are either good or bad according to our feelings, and their intensity prioritizes our reactions [1]. However, emotions have shortcomings. They are blind to changes, amount, components and multivariable analyses; in other words, they’re short-sighted.
  2. We can see its examples in extremely emotional cases when we can hardly think [2]. If someone painfully breaks your heart, you won’t be able to trust them even if they truly change.
  3. When you’re emotional, you can spend hours playing video games, watching videos; or empty a fridge.
  4. If you’re in love with someone, you might ignore their flaws; on the other hand, when you hate someone, you might not see their strengths.
  5. Finally, you might sacrifice your long-term benefits for short-term gains when you’re emotional. For example, hanging out with friends instead of studying for a coming exam.
  6. Being emotional doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re stressed out or depressed. If you’re very happy, you might make mistakes. As we discussed happiness kills the stress we require to take things seriously and think about them [3]. For example, you have several daily tasks and accomplishing the first task gives you a great deal of joy and satisfaction such that you won’t do the rest of them [4]. Or when you’re very happy, someone might take advantage of you. That’s how flattery works: someone would give you good feelings, boosting your confidence, so they could ask you do them a favor.
  7. That’s why we need thinking to deal with such situations, simply to modify emotional decisions. The tricky part is that thinking must be strong enough to tame and control emotions; otherwise, they will drag you till they stop.
  1. Emotions can drag or enslave thinking. An example of this situation would be finding reasons for doing something wrong. Let’s say you’d argue to justify why you smoked.
  2. We should also know that thinking is a slow and taxing process, so the brain is reluctant to do it due to minergy [5]. That’s why we accept and implement others’ solutions to solve our problems sometimes without evaluating them [6].
  3. So, what should we do to rationally tame our emotions? There are two main strategies: Firstly, we need to be aware of the economy of energy [7], how much we gain, spend or waste daily which is my opinion the most difficult challenge of all time [8]. The reason, as we now know, is when we don’t have enough energy, our confidence will plummet, we’ll panic; consequently, we’ll stop thinking and use the autopilot system [9].
  4. This is a meticulous process. Because sometimes we think that we’re gaining energy, but in fact, we’re losing it. For example, we use social media because socializing assures us that we have others’ love or support [10], but if we compare ourselves with others [11], not receiving enough likes, for instance, it will lower our confidence and drain the energy. So, it will be a waste of energy [12].
  5. In my opinion, if we just minimize the waste of energy, we will have enough energy to deal with the necessary tasks or projects.
  6. Secondly, we discussed that our brain works with habits [13], so we can make thinking habitual. If we don’t experience things in a cursory manner and slow down the process to think about its elements and to relate them to the similar ideas to create a bigger picture [14], we’ll train the brain to ponder ideas more deeply.


[1] Link to the previous post

[2] Even if when we’re emotional, we can think to some extent, since they’re intertwined. But I brought up the distinction between emotions and thinking to bold the whole process of making a decision. Daniel Kahneman, in a slightly different context [Link], called them system I and system II.

[3] Link to the 6th post where we discussed the happy hormones for the first time.

[4] This process is complicated because sometimes the success in the first task can boost your confidence to do the rest with more effort.

[5] I created the word minergy [Link] to explain our tendency to use minimum energy to get things done. Because for millions of years our brain and body evolved to survive through the scarcity of energy. That’s why Professor Sapolsky said that if you told a guy who lived in Sahara, that you ran almost 42 km to exercise, they’d think you’re crazy. Speaking of Marathon, he also mentioned that it’s a stressful activity and harmful to our body. [Link]

[6] We discussed why we’re reluctant to think in the 16th post. Link

[7] The most important thing is our energy is limited. Sometimes we think that if we play video games, check the social media and other things, we’ll have still enough energy to get back to tasks which in my opinion is a wrong idea.

[8] That’s why Socrates’ advice as a pearl of wisdom is “Know thyself” [Link]. Because we need to know about how we regulate energy daily and our strengths and weaknesses which affect our confidence. Earlier we discussed the dangers of overestimating or underestimating our power. Link

[9] Again I refer to Daniel Kahneman’s masterpiece, “Thinking, fast and slow”: “People who are cognitively busy are more likely to make selfish choices, use sexist language, and make superficial judgments.” Link

[10] When we evaluate our energy, as social animals, we count on others’ energy or support. That’s why our confidence goes up as a member of a group and as Maslow said in his famous hierarchy of needs [Link], we need to be loved and belong to a group. Link

[11] Again that’s why self-awareness is very important. Roland Barthes [Link] has eloquently described it as follows “But I never looked like that!’ – How do you know? What is the ‘you’ you might or might not look like? Where do you find it – by which morphological or expressive calibration? Where is your authentic body? You are the only one who can never see yourself except as an image; you never see your eyes unless they are dulled by the gaze they rest upon the mirror or the lens (I am interested in seeing my eyes only when they look at you): even and especially for your own body, you are condemned to the repertoire of its images.” [Link]

We can use this metaphor in the realm of mind. We know ourselves through some experiences and others’ feedbacks. That’s why our expectations can be set by others if we’re not strong enough to set it by ourselves.

[12] I recommend you to think about and list the daily activities you have and honestly evaluate them. The benefit of writing is slowing down the process, so you can think about them more profoundly. This experience will hopefully help you cut down the activities which are nothing but a waste of energy.

[13] We studied the role of habits in several posts, starting from the 5th one. Link

[14] That’s how concepts as the building blocks of thinking are created. Link

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