Why Being Irrational Will Benefit You
Emotions are the key to our success
For the longest time in my 20's believed that being rational was the essential thing in life. However, when I looked around, many decisions made by people close to me to the world govt weren’t always reasonable, which irked me. I would beat myself over when I would give into my emotions or urges. Like eating the cake when I was losing weight.
Our brain’s rational part, the prefrontal cortex¹, is small compared to our limbic system, also called the lizard brain². It’s the emotional part of our brain, the one that makes you do irrational things like waiting to start a task till the last minute or when slow internet pisses you off considerably. It’s also the part that reminds you when you are hungry or shouldn’t pick the fight with a bouncer at the bar.
Many folks try to conquer their lizard brain instead of working with it. Some even think it’s a liability from our ancestors instead of an asset. I believe, differently, being irrational allows us to make confident choices and live a more “human” life. In the long run, the bit of irrationality benefits us more than just being logical all the time.
Do you want to do a startup?
According to Investopedia, 90% of startups fail. I’d argue it would be wise to join a successful company to create wealth and affect change. Yet, despite that, the number of startups is increasing each year. Why is that? One reason is, people betting on such irrational ventures has grown, but that’s not all. Folks realize that to make real innovation. It would be best if you took risks.
Think about it, would a Tesla in its current form be possible at an existing car manufacturing company? The answer is probably no. It would have been a massive departure from how they operated till now.
Startups are all about significant risks and big rewards. Founders who signup for them is irrational, especially for ambitious ventures. You can’t change the world without taking some risks after all!
I believe a complete rational entity would rarely ever start a company. Even when they would, it would be a proven play instead of doing something entirely new. It takes the limbic system in our brain to bet on something new.
The rational part is still quite an essential tool. It allows us not to be swayed in emotions and make poor choices or take nonsensical risks. The logical feature will enable you to execute a plan with some chance of success and lesser side effects of failure.
The Meaning of the Universe
Have you ever looked at the night sky? Did you ever realize how small we are in the sea of cosmos? It could make you question your worth or the problem you are trying to accomplish.
No matter what you or I would do in our lifetime, it would have almost no impact on the universe. All things we hold dear would eventually be lost in time.
In front of such nihilistic thoughts, it’s our irrationality that keeps us going.
Just looking at the universe from an analytical lens, so many things become meaningless. Why does anything at all if there is no enormous payoff? Especially, in the long run, all of us will be dead anyway. If our ancestors thought like this, none of us would be here. It was our thirst for exploration, to know the unknown, that got us where we are right now.
The Human Side:
We are not perfect, but we still belong in the world. In fact, over the years, the world has become more inclusive. Yes, the journey hasn’t been easy but compared to centuries ago, we are more open to diversity³. Also, we don’t throw away those who aren’t perfect. We think of ways to bring them to the world and make them feel a part of it.
In a purely rational society, the drive to perfection would override everything. The goal would be to conceive more and more perfect beings without any defect, those who don’t fit the bill would be discarded right off the bat. Many of our creative pursuits might be deemed unnecessary.
Our humanity is not always about survival of the fittest. That’s why a parent loves their child no matter the shortcoming, that’s why many of us think about preserving other species, and that’s why we do acts of altruism where the ROI might not be worth it.
So what it all means?
As I argue, our success is because of our emotions, passions, as much as rationality. Yet, we take the former for granted and many times consider it useless. In arguments, we are often so obsessed with the logical point that we forget the emotional angle altogether, leading to a rift.
We aren’t rational; a large part of us is emotional and behavioral, which has led to a lot of success in global maxima. We need to be more inclusive/mindful of people’s emotions and beliefs when we interact with them. Perhaps showing kindness and just listening to them would be enough for their emotional counterparts to see the rationality of the argument.
After all, in this brief moment that we are together, it’s better to be kind.