Should I Follow My Heart or My Mind?

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

What type of decision maker am I?

People usually have a tendency to make decisions with one over the other.
Before you continue reading through the article, ask yourself: Which one do you usually use to make most of your decisions?

Now, the next question should be: Which one is actually better?
In order to answer your question let’s see what research has found.

What do the studies say?

In earlier research most of the focus was on finding the ratio between who makes a decision with the heart and who makes it with his head. The outcome seemed to show an equal ratio between both were women were more inclined to the heart. (see also Controlling people's minds)

New research however is more focused on something more interesting, but before we get into this new research, let’s see what studies had to say about each type of thinking.
They found that participants who generally made most decisions with their head tended to have stronger general knowledge and better academic performance, and those with their hearts were warmer in social situations. (see also Should I trust my intuition)

Each type of thinking had its own unique advantage and of course disadvantage. The interesting bit is that you can’t really say that thinking with the heart is not really thinking with the mind. The reason for this is because when you get a gut feeling about something, it is due to the information your subconscious mind has collected about something.

More about the mind

The conscious mind is able to absorb 126 bits of information per second while your subconscious can absorb up to 2 million bits per second. That is a huge number, and when you get a gut feeling about something it is based on a lot of the information that you have stored. It doesn’t mean that your gut feeling is always right, but it is definitely something to put into consideration.

Another important factor to consider when it comes to matters of the heart is that you are a human being not a machine, and if you don’t put what makes you happy into consideration, you will live your life depressed and unhappy. When you have unfulfilled needs your mind will always be sending you negative emotions to push you to achieve them.

On the other hand of course, it is without no doubt that if you don’t think and plan before you take decisions; you are more likely to end up with wrong ones most of the time. This is what the new research was all about. (see also Why you should write a plan)

How do we handle it?

New research now put its focus on whether we can make the people who are inclined to make most of their decisions on one side put the other into consideration as well to integrate their thinking process.

To do that, they randomly assigned participants to two conditions, one in which people were surreptitiously led to think with their hearts and one in which they were surreptitiously let to think with their head.

The research proved it was possible for people who were more inclined to take decisions with their hearts to draw their attention to their heads which facilitated intellectual problem solving for them to reason through problems.

On the other hand people who took decisions with their mind were able to influence their emotions over rational factors and not disregard them when thinking about what they should do. Research has succeeded to prove that anyone can use both to integrate their thinking process.

How to use both?

If you are a person who usually prefers to make decisions with your heart, it will be of no harm if you think of things rationally as well. It is not one over the other; it is more about how to make a plan to satisfy your heart. (see also Why are some people so practical)

It is about making sure you don’t just put your present into consideration, but also making sure you don’t also hurt your heart in the future. This is why it is very important to use both your mind and heart when taking a decision. (see Conscious living tips)

If you take decisions based on just rational thinking, you may need to consider your psychological well-being in the future. It is very important to think rationally, but making sure you put your emotions into consideration as well when you think will insure a better decision for you and for your happiness.

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