It may not sound rational, but experts say emotions and gut feelings are more important than intellect in making choices. “We’ve never succeeded, never, in having people recognize the irrational influence of incidental emotion,” Lerner laughed. “Never?” Spencer said. “And then to make steps, no. Never.”
“Never” she says! Never say never, right? Actually, it is possible to make steps to avoid the bio-hoodwink — “the irrational influence of incidental emotion” — to an extent. Regarding all my decisions, perceptions, and actions as merely symptoms is a tool I use most (see Symptoms Point Of View). This, along with correlations, slows me down enough to help nip many irrational and hypocritical emotions in the bud.
This decision research matches my observation that how I feel drives how I act, just like any other animal. When a duck feels hungry, it goes and eats. When I feel hungry, I go and eat. The difference being, how I feel drives how, and what, I think. If a duck could think, it would do the same. As far as I know, we are the only species that thinks, and that is where the trouble begins.
Thoughts cycle back and influence how I feel. This easily turns into a neurotic vicious circle. Thought gets the impression that it controls and it knows. This is our difficulty, as chapter 71 puts it, Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty. Thinking gets me into a mess, and aside from getting a total lobotomy, I know of nothing that can help me avoid the mess except thinking, or rather remembering. That comes down to maintaining a constant background awareness of the blindness need and desire creates. Buddha’s Fourth Truth says, “There is salvation for him whose self disappears before truth, whose will is bent on what he ought to do, whose sole desire is the performance of his duty”. Maintaining a sense of priority — duty — does that best I find. And that requires constant review. (See also, The Decider).