Friday, July 6, 2012

D20 - The rational life, Part 1

I try and live my life as a rational being and that is part of the problem.

Rational decisions are made with disregard to emotional skewing and represent the best decision to be made based on facts and reason.  Kurt Vonnegut wrote how, " is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn't meant to be reasonable."

Exhausted is exactly how I feel.  Frustration, sadness, lethargy are the emotional byproducts that fuel off exhaustion.  It is not a packed calendar, nor my mind being pulled in multitudes of disparate directions at once.  Years of working several different jobs has finely attuned my multitasking abilities, though like everyone I am not beyond the occasional late bill payment or forgotten commitment.  

The exhaustion I feel is the pressure of rationality.  To always justify to others and to myself that what I am about to do next is the most logical progression from where I am now.  Even for simple decisions - what I should do for lunch - the questions fly mad in my mind:  Is this the restaurant that you will be happiest at?  Does the price justify the happiness it will bring you?  If you don't have a lot of money, how can you justify spending anything on lunch?  A never ending volley of inquiries that necessitate all kinds of rationalization gymnastics to subdue.  

The side effects of this constant self justification are twofold, neither is very good and the second is more harmful than the first.  First, I fear over-rationalizing my behavior effectively blinds me to the difference between actual justifications for my behavior and self deception.  In short, I am so deft at the rationalization game that even I can't tell when I am playing.

Second, it has a paralyzing effect on my decisions.  Like the naively optimistic Candide who postulates that all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds, if I believe my actions to be rational, then I have made the best decision available, thus rendering all my other options irrational.  I am trapped in the rational path of least resistance. 

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