Head Vs. Heart
What’s more important?
Confusion is a very common thing in us. Almost every time, we are confused about something or the other. Not only in big and important decisions of life, but also in seemingly small and unimportant matters of everyday life. As a result, we often face this question: दिल की सुने या दिमाग की? Should I listen to my heart or to my brain? What’s more important? Head or heart?
Let’s sort out this riddle.
Head & Heart
We refer to head and heart as two separate faculties of our inner selves. But what do we even mean by ‘head’ and ‘heart’? Well, when we say we must listen to our head, we mean we should use our reasoning faculty, that is, our buddhi (intellect). And contrasting to this, the heart signifies our emotional faculty. But are they actually two separate aspects? Not really.
Both are functions of the brain. To be more specific, they represent the left side and the right side of the brain. Our left brain or the left hemisphere is responsible for intuitive, imaginary and emotional thinking, while the right brain or the right hemisphere is more logical, rational and concrete in nature. What we refer to as our heart is nothing but an overactive left brain, and when the right brain becomes more dominant, we become more matter-of-fact and rational in our thinking.
So, these are not two separate aspects within us. But because they differ from each other in their nature of function, they seem like different forces within us. They are both functions of our brain.
Emotion & Logic
We are more emotional in nature than rational. Although we like to think that we are very rational and logical creatures, the fact is, our emotions work more dominantly within us than our logic. This has an evolutionary reason for it.
Our emotions are regulated by the limbic system, specifically by amygdala in the middle brain. And our logical thinking and all the reasoning is carried out in the region called the prefrontal cortex, the part of the forehead. This part is most evolved only in us. That’s why we’ve been able to outperform every other living species on this planet. But in the evolutionary scheme of things, this is a recent happening. Compared to this, our middle brain is bigger in size. And as I said, our emotions are processed in the middle brain. That’s why, our emotions are more dominant in us than our intellect. But with training we can enhance our intellectual capabilities to unimaginable heights.
But most human beings live under the spell of their emotions.
Are emotions bad? Absolutely not. Emotions are actually a different type of intelligence! Today we all know about the concept of emotional intelligence, popularized by the psychologist—Daniel Goleman. Emotions have their own intelligence. We just don’t know how to harness that intelligence. That’s why we always feel like they are out of our control, and we suffer.
So, What’s Better?
None is better than the other. Both are equally important and necessary. We have to learn to bring a coherence between these two faculties. Without the one, the other cannot lead us to a comprehensive state of being. While logic gives us the ability to judge, verify, compare, and shows us the pros and cons of every situation to safely navigate this world and life, emotions give us the ability to taste life, to feel life in all its colours and richness. If we give more importance to one aspect, our experience of life will become lopsided. We will not feel life in its completeness. It’s not without a reason that nature instilled in us these two seemingly contrasting aspects. But they are actually complementary to each other. One enhances the other. One adds colour to the other.
The tragedy of the modern world is, we are overly judgemental and heartless. We have developed our intellect, but we’ve not bothered to enhance our emotional faculty. As a result, we’ve become selfish beings, insensitive to the pains and sufferings of others. All the time we only talk about power, profit, gains and benefits. As a consequence, the world has become economy-driven. There’s no place for emotions.
Yes, we need logic. That’s what makes us intelligent beings. But without emotions we are equally handicapped. Emotions are an integral aspect of our being. Without first developing emotions, dry logic can do no real good to this world. After all, we are humans, we don’t live by matter, we live by mind! Don’t we?
So, whenever you’re caught in this confusion between head vs. heart—listen to both! Only when you take them together, will you see and feel the complete picture of anything. Both must be equally developed. When reason is required, keep emotions under control. When matters of the heart become important, keep cost-benefit analysis shut down! Don’t be an emotional fool, be sane. But at the same time, don’t be a heartless intellectual, have feelings.
Thinking and feeling—both are our superpowers.
I would like to end this article with some quotes of Mark Twain:
1. Civilizations proceed from the heart rather than from the head. - Letter to Alvert Sonnichsen, 18 March 1901
2. You can't reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.- A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
3. The heart is the real fountain of youth.- Notebook, 1898
4. One learns peoples through the heart, not the eyes or the intellect.- "What Paul Bourget Thinks of Us"
5. It is in the heart that the values lie. I wish I could make him understand that a loving heart is riches, and riches enough, and that without it intellect is poverty. - Eve's Diary