Monday, 9 July 2012

Rational living: its advantages and disadvantages

If you ever thought that the benefits of acting rationally in life are self-evident, you are wrong. In fact, nothing can be further from daily experience. Irrationality and short-term thinking are preached constantly by the media and, to a great extent, by the ethical ideas that dominate our society.

There are many drawbacks to being rational, as there are many negative consequences of being good. Contrary to what you might believe, people who behave foolishly or wickedly are not stupid. They may be uninformed or short-sighted, evil or self-destructive, but not stupid.

There are great personal advantages to be drawn from behaving appallingly. Nobody told us at school and, around us, most will deny it, but I believe that it is better to face the truth. Consuming refined sugar and saturated fat might lead to health problems in the long run, but it can be a great treat right now.

If you are enlightened enough to think otherwise, this will bring about positive results for you and for the world. My point is that you should not assume that others will automatically recognize your good choices as valid. Rational thinking must involve the realization that most people will not understand it. What are the reasons behind this phenomenon?

* IMMEDIATE BENEFITS. Short-term thinking often entails immediate pleasure or enjoyment of some kind. Children prefer chocolate chips to vegetables because they taste better. In terms of eating pleasure, you cannot argue otherwise. Without developed mental skills, childish and primitive behaviour is all you get.

* HIDDEN DRAWBACKS. Many negative consequences of irrational actions are difficult to figure out. Human beings took hundreds of years to understand basic facts about nutrition and how it affects biochemical processes. In our days, discussions are still ongoing about why we have strong cravings for low-quality food. Good nutrition is all but self-evident.

* PERCEIVED LOW-COST. The crucial contribution of economics to human thinking is that, when it comes to complex problems, no conclusion should be drawn without studying the complete picture. The acquisition price of an item can be judged cheap or expensive only if we consider its lifetime benefits. In the short run, you can save effort if you don´t brush your teeth. This is the sort of cheap omission that may bring you considerable long-term harm.

Even nowadays, when internet access has become commonplace for educated individuals, irrational thinking remains widespread in our world. It is undeniable that, on many occasions, foolish choices are encouraged by our social environment, but for a wise man, this should be no excuse.

Rational thinking and good ethical choices bring about enormous benefits to society, but we cannot expect that, for every decision, individuals consider all possible consequences for third parties around the world. The great news is that advantages to society are automatic.

Luckily, the main beneficiary of rational thinking is the individual who makes correct decisions, frequently in opposition to his immediate social environment. Acquiring wisdom takes substantial effort and difficult short-term choices, but constitutes the only solid foundation of personal happiness.


[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by nicolee_pikita under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]