A topic I’ve been thinking about quite often recently. On a surface level, it is often regarded as a good thing. But to what extent?
I’m an overly honest & rational person. I admit it. I’m not sure if it’s of my own doing, or if it’s just in my biological programming. Growing up, I’ve often been told that I’m overly honest to a point of detachment. I don’t think that’s a good thing, but I also can’t deny its truth. I’m tempted to interchange the words honesty & rationalism, and I think they both lead to the same thing.
Being overly rational has both been an incredible blessing & a taxing curse. It helps you excel in life and at business, and also helps you alienate many people who get too close.
Let me explain that. On one hand, being overly honest & rational helps you navigate & solve problems at top speed. You’re not worried about hurting anyone’s feelings, you’re just focused on solving the issue at hand. On the other hand, the fact that you’re not worried about hurting anyone’s feelings, ends up hurting people’s feelings (surprise!).
Here are a few contradicting facts that make this very complicated:
- You realize that life is meaningless and that we assign meaning to it
- You then realize that if you assign meaning to life, you must commit to it. Otherwise, life becomes miserable with its meaninglessness
- Other people around you are living in their own simulations, and they may agree on some of your principles but may not live by others
- You are objective, therefore you set goals and navigate problems at top speed to reach to those goals. Doing so means you need to be “brutally” honest at times
- People around you may or may not be ready to take that. A big reason for this is ego
- Ego is a necessary psychological survival mechanism, and everyone has it. Those who are more aware of it get to better control it
- People who are more rational about their egos then are better people to work with, because beyond basic intelligence & motivation, the speed at which you can have the difficult, heartfelt conversations decides how fast you can move
- This is all fun & games, until you come to how these rational people might not do as well in their relationships, because, referring back to point 1, life is meaningless
- There’s so much suffering that we humans go through that no magnitude of rationale can justify. Like having babies. That’s probably a very irrational decision with little-to-no measurable upside, and all the downside for 18 years of time. But that’s one of the very few things that might make life meaningful
This whole post might make little sense, but it’s just my way of venting on the struggle of juggling my extreme rationality with the inevitable irrationality of the world I can’t ignore. My rationality tells me to not waste time on reviving a relationship that’s ought to die. My rationality tells me not to waste “opportunity cost” talking to someone who’s not willing to listen. My rationality tells me not to pursue goals with no clear benefits. But that all goes out the window when hit with how lonely of a world that is, if applied everywhere.
Yes, we’re biological animals who are wired to crave irrational things that once upon a time made sense, but the world we know today is a very different place. It seems like for the first time, we’re aware of our irrational vices and can choose to refrain from them, but for some reason, we end up surrendering to them with a shrug.
I love the rewards of rationality.. but I’m coming to think that -just like everything- without a little bit of chaos, life becomes more meaningless. This seems to be taking me to a place I keep going back to as I grow my wisdom tank: The Tension of Opposites.
At work: be as rational as you could be, but realize that you’re dealing with other social animals that are wired with irrationality, so be kind when possible.
In life: you are ought to be irrational in the extents you are willing to go for your loved ones, but reflect back rationally every now and then to make sure you’re not being pulled to mayhem.
Just my $0.02. Others might struggle with being overly irrational (also known as kind). Apply your own yin-yang balance. Be strict when it matters, be lenient when it makes sense, and vice versa.