I’ve been reading Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. I probably should have read it when it came out in 1995, because not infrequently, I’ll say to Daniel, Why do we have to have emotions? Feelings are just so problematic. Wouldn’t it be better to not have them?
Well, as it turns out, there are plenty of good reasons to have emotions, like it was a choice anyway. As described in the book, emotions are perhaps closely related with the ability to make decisions, which is known as the Somatic Marker Hypothesis. People with certain types of brain damage that prevent them from experiencing emotions in a normal way become incredibly indecisive. (I have to wonder what this says about the potential for actual AI too…)
Unrelated, but a seemingly overlapping set of research describes how people who deliberate a long time in decisions are typically less happy with their decisions. See: The Paradox of Choice.
So: 2 points for emotional awareness.
Obviously, it’s a bit ludicrous to ask why do we have to have emotions? Beyond the fact that it’s not really an option, they provide a whole bunch of important information that the intellect doesn’t really capture -or can’t capture.
But emotions are prone to imbalance, unlike the intellect it seems. Emotions are more like the body. We can become really imbalanced in our bodies through consumption and activity patterns, and we can become really imbalanced in our emotions in similar ways.
So if emotions are more like the body and less like the intellect, and we know we can choose a healthy diet and our bodies will reflect it- we get to the question I’ve been asking myself this week: What is this emotional diet I’ve been consuming for the past twenty years and how does it need improvement?