I recently got into a discussion about the appropriate use of emotions in making important decisions with my daughter Brittany.  Several points that I have never written about or which were touched on only briefly in prior posts were discussed in our conversations.  I think you will find our conversation on this topic useful as she raised some questions that I’m sure some of you also would raise if you had the opportunity.

My first note to Brittany

I’ll start with a note I sent to my daughter Brittany recently after she had said something about the importance of considering our emotions when making a decision:

Here’s the thing about reason and emotion.  What makes sense rationally will continue to make sense forever.  The logical answer doesn’t change from day to day.

On the other hand, what you feel today you are unlikely to continue to feel forever, no matter what the feeling is.  Feelings come and go.  What makes rational sense does not.

Also, you have no control over your feelings; in other words, you are not sure what is causing them, where they came from, how long they will last.  It doesn’t make sense making decisions (especially on something that will have a big impact on your life) on something as ephemeral as emotions.

If you do what makes sense and it doesn’t work out, at least you can say: it made sense at the time.  If you ignore what makes sense and act totally on your feelings and it doesn’t work out, you are likely to feel like a fool for acting on your feelings after the feeling is long gone.

Love, DAD

Britt’s comments and my response

Here is Britt’s response to that note and the email I sent her (my response to her is in red and in parenthesis):


Very nice note. I think everything you are saying makes sense. I will, however, add that sometimes emotions are just as important as logic. Sometimes our emotions tell us how we feel about things, uncover what we actually want or can act as roadmaps to help us better understand ourselves.

(By definition, our emotions tell us what we feel about things, but they are unlikely to tell us what we actually want. Emotions are automatic and unconscious meanings we give to meaningless events.  For example, they have us get angry at things that never happened, for example, someone not doing what we asked occurs to us as they don’t love us, which has us get angry, when that is not what the person meant at all).

I know you disagree with this, because feelings are only caused by the meaning we give to meaningless events, but unfortunately, logic doesn’t always lead us making decisions that will fill our lives with joy.

(That’s true.  We can certainly make mistakes using logic to make decisions.  But the chance of making a decision that serves us well in the future is more likely using logic than emotion.)

By logic, I might not make many of the decisions that have made me extremely happy or provided me with invaluable learning experiences. It was not logical for me to move to San Diego (after we graduated from college) with no money rather than living with you guys or Erik’s (Britt’s fiancé) parents while we made money. But this is the best learning experience I could have imagined. Plus, we would be stuck somewhere we didn’t want to be, living with none of our own space, and we would probably be far worse off.

(Actually given how responsible you are and your ability to have things turn out for you, moving to San Diego made perfect sense.  You could have predicted that it would be an incredible learning experience and that you would have been unhappy living with us for many months without privacy.)

Flying to Europe without a schedule was completely illogical. I went to Europe and did not see the Sistine Chapel! Who does that? But, I got to experience complete freedom. I can think of countless examples where I acted out of emotion and not logic and I am so grateful for those choices. If I followed all the logical paths I could have I would not be who I am today.

(You can visit Europe with or without a schedule; neither is the logical thing to do.  It depends on your preference and given your preference for “freedom,” it made sense to do what you did.  Given your values and what was important to you, not seeing the Sistine Chapel and going where you felt like going every day made total sense.  Perhaps you were doing what you felt like doing at the time, but you knew you were acting consistently with your values, not with emotions you didn’t understand or that were inconsistent with your values.)

That does not mean that people should not consult logic. Acting without thinking is never smart. But, consulting logic and emotions and taking them both as valuable guides is what I believe.

(Almost all fear is the result of unconsciously-created meaning and rarely is there a real threat to your life.  Taking the fear as a guide to action will rarely prove useful in the long run.  Wanting very much to do something tells you nothing about whether it is good for you or not.  That feeling of desire is the result of a meaning you created unconsciously and probably came from beliefs you are unaware of and which are never “the truth.” 

(If you can trace your feeling of desire to a consciously created value, that’s useful information.  For example, if you consciously value spontaneity, then traveling without a schedule and specific plans is consistent both with your feelings and logic.  If you aren’t aware of the source of the feeling and the meaning that caused it, then the feeling tells you nothing you can use to make a decision, especially an important one.

(I know that strong feelings feel like “this is me,” especially if you are emotionally kinesthetic and identify with your feelings.  Nonetheless, we have feelings; we aren’t our feelings.)

But, I just want to suggest, that maybe while logic stays and emotions generally don’t, sometimes emotions and feelings might be more valuable than you think. That’s all. Love you lots and talk to you at 3. Xoxo


(If you start with your feelings and then check and see if they make logical sense—and if you know where the feelings came from, that’s fine.  Making decisions based solely on feelings and ignoring logic is a long-term recipe for disaster.  Love, DAD)

Britt disagreed with my response.

Shortly after Britt read my response she called me and said: “I disagree with you totally.”  She went on to argue the points she disagreed with and ended the conversation by exclaiming in frustration when she couldn’t convince me of her point of view: “You’re in a box the size of a pea!”

Was Brittany right?  Was I not being open to another point of view?  After a lot of careful reflection, I don’t think so.  But her comments made me realize that I hadn’t responded to all her questions and disagreements as completely as I could have. I hadn’t presented my case as completely as possible.

So here are a few of the points I hadn’t covered completely in our exchange of notes:

1.  Britt said that she trusted her intuition and I wasn’t taking that into account.  Although it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between emotions and intuition, there is a big difference between them.

Intuitions are usually experienced as information (which can cause a feeling).  Intuition is thinking something is true without conscious evidence, or expecting something to happen, etc.  The intuition is generally in the form of a thought that seems to be true, such as, going on this trip is going to be a disaster or we ought to decline this party invitation as we probably won’t have a good time. The prediction-like quality of an intuition can be experienced as a feeling, but it clearly is very different from a specific emotion like fear, anger, and guilt. 

2.  As I’ve written before, we can choose our values (which are merely a type of belief) consciously knowing they are not “the truth,” but nonetheless deciding that they are how we want to live our lives.  So we can consciously decide to value telling the truth, respecting other people, and not harming others.

Once we have done that our emotions can tell us if we are living consistently with our values.  In such a case, we know where the emotion is coming from and can decide to give validity to the emotion because it is based on a consciously-chosen value belief.

That is totally different from an emotion that automatically arises from an unconsciously generated occurring/meaning, which is turn is primarily caused by beliefs we were not conscious of forming and which are never “the truth.”

3.  The next point I made, which is related to the prior one, is that if you take the time to find the source of your emotion and conclude you consciously agree with it, then you can use the emotion as a guide to action.  In such a case however, you are not really being guided by the emotion but the meanings and beliefs that generated the emotion that you have consciously identified and carefully considered.

4.  Here’s what might have been going on with Britt and others who sometimes want to hold on to their emotions so desperately.  As I wrote in an earlier post, we often want our emotion to validate our occurring.  In other words, if an event occurs to us as dangerous and we feel fear, in some way we want the fear because it validates our emotion of fear.  Similarly, if we say someone wronged us and we can’t do anything about it and we feel anger toward that person, in some way we want to experience anger because it “proves” that our appraisal that we were wronged is valid.

5.  Nothing I’ve said is meant to invalidate emotions.  I am not saying emotions are bad or even irrelevant.  I am only saying that emotions, as such, should never serve as the primary basis for making a decision.

This post is unlikely to be the last word between my daughter and me on the relationship between emotions and logic/reason and when (if ever) it is appropriate to rely on emotions when making decisions.  I’m sure that many of you still have some questions about my point of view.  But this is a good start.

Thanks for reading my blog. Do you agree or disagree with the points I made in this post?  Why?  Do you have something to add?  Your comments will add value for thousands of readers.  I read them all and respond to as many as I can.

I’ve written several earlier posts about emotions: why negative ones are unnecessary, how they are the result of the meaning we give meaningless events, etc.




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Copyright © 2012 Morty Lefkoe

Use this information to improve your life

The next time you notice a decision of yours is being influenced by a strong emotion, do the following:

1.  Ask yourself if you are having an intuition about what you should or should not be doing, in other words, a thought with information, or is there a very specific emotion like fear, anger or guilt?

2.  If it is a clear emotion, determine what meaning you have given the event that is causing the emotion.

3.  Notice if some part of you wants to hold on to the emotion to justify some meaning you have given the situation.

4.  If you make a clear distinction between the event and the meaning, the meaning will dissolve along with the emotion it has caused.


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  5. Shaun February 8, 2013 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Whilst i can understand Morty’s point of you, my gut feeling agrees with Brittany on this one. I can’t put my finger on it but I think she is still young enough to be in touch with that which is beyond logic but our emotions are an indication of.

  6. Chris December 31, 2012 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    As usual Mort’ you have some valid points, but man has Brit got your number!
    Emotions make us who we are, logic is learned via experience we do not do a thing with out BELIEVING it FEELS better in doing what ever in the moment that it occurs. The trick is to be conscious of your feeling. Take a second with your decisions and note if logic and feeling are lined up, if it feels good do it, if it feels even slightly ‘off’, check all data using logic and then decide.

    Emotions are guidance about what we are thinking, (creating) right NOW.

    . . . LOGIC was experienced in the PAST, period!
    Always consult you logic, but to have it rule instead is fatal!

    The irony is this whole conversation is driven by FEELINGS of emotion, logic tells us it has nothing to do with us individually, so forget it.
    But we feel better in the involvement.

    Every opinion is relevant to the individual who perceived it, there is no right or wrong . It is all a matter of perception.

  7. Senturk December 28, 2012 at 6:23 am - Reply

    I am agree with you Morty, and also with Brittany in a way too.

    I think we should always consider our emotions with our sense if they make sense or not. And I also think that intuitions are similar in a way but also different from emoitions, and they can claim an opposite action than the emoitions;
    For example, it the case of making a desicion to go european trip, I am sure one would feel fear to do so. But his intuition may says to him, it will be a good opportunity to experience wonderful things and a kind of adventure. And intuition makes sense at his point but the emotion(fear) doesn’t.
    And I think making this kind of a trip despite of our fear makes this experience more valuable, in the sense of overcoming our meanengless fear:)

  8. Lon December 22, 2012 at 12:37 am - Reply

    Also, I just thought of this: when I’m doing the LBP on myself, I know when the belief is dissolving based on my FEELINGS, not on logic. I can tell myself logically that the belief should be gone, but that means nothing unless I feel it lighten up and disappear. When I hit on a really good alternative explanation, something shifts in a FEELING way – now yes, of course we’re using a logical process to get there, but the feeling is what tells me it’s shifted. And I do trust that.

  9. Lon December 22, 2012 at 12:31 am - Reply

    Morty, I think there needs to be more distinctions made in the realm of “feelings” or “emotions”. If I decide to quit my job based on feeling angry about some incident, that kind of feeling isn’t going to last, and certainly isn’t a good guide for a decision that affects my life seriously. And my temporary anger doesn’t seem profound or to lead to any bigger picture, it’s just something that grips me briefly. But the other day, I was walking in the park, and suddenly stopped in the middle of some trees. For some reason, my heart felt very open, and I found myself talking to the trees, thanking them for their great energy, and for producing the oxygen we need to live, and for just being there, year after year, beautiful and strong. And there was a part of my mind that said ” that’s not rational, trees can’t hear me, I don’t need to thank them”, and that seems very rational and logical. But the fact is, I had a very powerful experience standing there and thanking the trees, and I went home and shared it on Facebook, and some people responded and seemed to get the feeling, too, and posted about the power of gratitude, and I felt quite good that evening. Now if I had only listened to rational logic, I would never have had that experience. So I think there is a distinction to be made between a reactive, emotional state like anger, fear, anxiety, etc., and this other kind of feeling/emotion, that can lead to powerful and beautiful experience. I don’t know what to call this type of feeling, but it’s a qualitatively different experience, and feels more “heart” oriented and opens something up, rather than closing me down. So it’s not logic or rational, but it’s not stuck, negative emotion, either. So what is it?

  10. Olivia December 21, 2012 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    Until few years ago I didn’t have a clue about feelings and what vital role do they play in decision making. I believed also that one makes decisions based on logic and facts. I started to see things differently when I was first introduced to innerbonding.com. Here I learned that we have feelings for a reason. They communicate to us what is right for us. To learn what our feelings are trying to communicate to us we need to be tuned into our body and be open to learn with each and every feeling. We need to be tuned into our body sensations. My body, my feelings let me know what is a good decision for me, what is logical for me. My feelings let me know minute by minute if I am on track or not in my thinking and my decision making. Another person can’t possibly know what is good for me. Even if the other person is a loving father or a mother. I always can take their suggestions into consideration but the final decision comes from how the decision feels in my gut. It is about 4 years when I was first introduced to innerbonding.com and since then I never felt better or more peaceful every moment of each day. The decisions I make are right for me. I feel content and confident. And it is all because I am tuned and pay attention to my feelings. I assume that this is what your daughter is also doing.

  11. Franc December 21, 2012 at 10:21 am - Reply

    It is great challenge and it takes courage to put on the screen discussion that you have with your daughter but with respect to privacy, I hope that you asked Brittany for permission to publish her thoughts on your post. It definitely sprouted some very interesting comments and thoughts.
    I completely agree with everything that Elizabeth wrote so far and I admire her wide, balanced approach. I would add saying that “women are different and so are men” what makes this topic so interesting, when women more often “feel about something” while men usually “think about something”. Between emotions and logic I would definitely like to choose a good balance with great respect and love of both. Thank you for your post and Mary Christmas!

  12. Barbara December 21, 2012 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,
    That was quite an exchange between you and Britt, and I agree with others that it’s wonderful that you two can do that.

    Sadly, it seemed to be that you have established a position, and spent the conversation defending it instead of considering that there might be place for a balance between the two – heart and mind.

    If you look at the new biology, in just the past few years we have learned

    1. The heart has more neurotransmitters than the brain, and experiments have shown that the heart “knows” before the brain does. In one experiment, where something negative or positive was flashed on a computer screen, the heart responded even before the brain could see what was there. Interesting, huh?

    2. The heart has more electrical power than the brain by a scale of 5.

    3. The heart has more magnetic power than the brain by a scale of 100.

    I grew up in a religion that taught the “heart is treacherous”, but I wonder if the heart gets a bad rap from that generation and now our children are more open to a spiritual balance that doesn’t create a hierarchy of what’s better and worse, but that seeks cooperation, synergy and balance.

    Just a thought worth sharing…

    Love your posts, Barbara

  13. Paul December 21, 2012 at 9:10 am - Reply

    I agree with Morty here, and the basic approach he outlines is the one I’ve embraced in my life for more than a decade. I’ve also run into similar resistance when sharing this approach with others, because they get the impression that I’m discounting emotions, or trying to make them irrelevant. However, I mean nothing of the sort, and I also think Morty suggests nothing of the sort.

    The way I have explained myself is that emotions can provide very good information about ourselves and circumstances. As the first line of defense in the world, emotions are valuable in alerting us to imminent danger. Fear is critical in responding to a physical attack or a dangerous accident. Empathy and love are important for responding to other people, especially in ways where we can help them and enrich our lives. But, as I think we have all experienced, our emotions often lead us astray, or are manipulated by other people, sometimes systematically.

    In his work Morty has outlined clearly how our survival emotional responses become associated with events that are not actually threatening to our survival. Whether it’s public speaking or someone being angry at us, through beliefs formed in early childhood and conditioning we may respond to these circumstances as if they are life threatening, even when they are not. In this way emotions are not necessarily helpful, and indeed can lead us to make decisions that are not actually in our own best interests, and don’t lead us to what we actually want out of life.

    However, if we are able to find the source of our emotional response to a situation, then that emotion becomes information to help us identify the belief that causes it. Then we have the opportunity to deal with that belief, and perhaps eliminate it if we choose.

    I don’t think Morty is advocating that we ignore our emotions at all, nor do I. Rather I think we should be sure that they bring us what we want out of life, and that they do not cause us unnecessary pain, anguish or lead to decisions that prevent us from fulfillment. Feelings of love, passion and pleasure help us identify the things we want to do, the people we care for and the path we wish to lead. Feelings of displeasure, pain and anguish help us identify the things we do not enjoy, the path that is not correct for us, and the people we should not expose ourselves to. This is not an argument to embrace “cold hard logic” above all else. Instead, your emotions should be part of the equation, but not the whole equation.

    I do not see how attempting to understand why we feel something is either harmful wrong. If it were the case that most of us had emotional responses nearly all the time that we felt were utterly appropriate to the situation, and did not cause us any suffering, pain or undesired results, then there would be no problem with relying on emotions to make decisions. But the fact that any of us is reading this post and these comments I think is a strong indication that our emotions have not been so reliable. Given this unreliability, how do we know when we should let our emotions guide our decisions, and when not?

    But when we are able to analyze and understand our emotions, then use them as information, we greatly increase the likelihood that we will make decisions that are consistent with our own values and desires in life. That is the point. We choose our path, based upon what makes us happy, healthy and fulfilled. It’s not what is logical to someone else, it’s what’s logical to us, based up on what we truly want from life.

    • Morty Lefkoe December 21, 2012 at 9:53 am - Reply

      Hi Paul,

      Thanks for taking the time to contribute to this conversation. You summed up my point of view accurately.

      I never said emotions are bad or should be ignored. I only said that emotions, as such, are not a reliable guide to action. If we figure out what causes them, then that information could be useful.

      It’s interesting that my post has led to so many long responses. This is obviously a topic that people have a lot of strong opinions about.

      Happy holidays, love, Morty

  14. Kundan December 21, 2012 at 12:52 am - Reply

    Hi Morty!
    While I agree that emotions should not be the primary factor in making a decision, I do see a value in emotions that you’re missing – the emotional guidance scale.

    Our negative emotions tell us that the meaning we give meaningless events is negative, limiting and indeed harmful, and harming us and possibly, others – indeed, they are supposed to feel bad – just like touching a flame burns us, and indeed heats us and causes us some discomfort even before we reach the flame, our negative emotions are telling us that we need to change the meaning we give meaningless events – so, in that sense, our emotions are indeed actually very useful.

    And if we are feeling really happy, content and ecstatic, then clearly, we are thinking positive things, things that benefit us and does not harm anybody.

    I do agree with the commenters above though that maybe it would have been better to ask your daughter questions and actually be more interested in what she has to say, instead of just giving your response to her.

  15. Dave December 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    In response to Costel, what if you have no higher self?

    In response to Elizabeth, what if emotions DON’T have intuition behind them? What if there is no good reasoning behind emotions?

    Now at this point most of you are probably thinking that I’m trying to argue that what Costel and Elizabeth (and by proxy, everyone else who’s shared similar thoughts) are wrong. That’s not it, actually. A lot of people like to hang on to things because they validate the idea they have of themselves (as Morty pointed out in a previous post.) I’ve found that when you’re trying to figure out if something is true or not when you’re absolutely certain it is true (of course, I suppose it takes a crazy kind of person to doubt their own certainty, right?:)) the best way to find out is to consider what if it WEREN’T true.

    The thing is, most of the time what happens is you get a REALLY strong emotional reaction. As Elizabeth pointed out, many times there is an agenda that is not apparent. Most of the time the knee-jerk response people have to their beliefs being challenged is anger, which is a simple urge to lash out, to destroy the things that threaten us. (By the way, I 100% agree with Anemone.) The other most common response is disgust, which is an urge to avoid and shun things that can harm us. Then, of course, there’s outrage, which is a combination of the two. These reactive feelings support the meaning (actually I’m going to posit the idea that they support each other since feelings can’t exist without meaning and meaning has no drive or sense of importance without feelings) of “this challenge is bad and unacceptable.”

    But a challenge doesn’t exist without a threat. So what’s the threat? I’ve noticed that if you look behind the reaction (anger, disgust, outrage, etc.) you generally come to a totally different emotion. Guess what that emotion points to?

    If you’re bothered by the idea of there not being a higher self, what’s the meaning there?

    If you’re bothered by the idea that emotions have no reason, what’s the meaning there?

    If you’re bothered by the idea that emotions have nothing to do with intuition, what’s the meaning there?

    After all, you don’t have to feel anything about something for it to be true or false in and of itself even when you’re presented with contrary evidence. You do, however, have to have a feeling in order to believe that something that is true isn’t, or that something that isn’t true is when faced with contrary evidence. Morty’s whole point was that using emotions as the main criteria for making decisions isn’t beneficial in the long run, and that you should be aware of the values behind your emotions in making decisions, not the emotions themselves. Unfortunately, Brittany seems (to me, at least) to have taken Morty’s meaning to be, “People who have emotions make bad decisions and are bad people. The only way to make good decisions and be a good person is to be a purely logical person.” So, it seems to me, did a lot of others.

    My point here is that there are people who seem to me to take a very personal stake in their feelings. Perhaps that personal meaning you’ve taken on is holding you back in some way. Have you ever considered where it really comes from? Is it really something that you value, or is it something you’re afraid of? Let me give a quick example. Some people are nice people because they truly like other people and have compassion for them. Others are nice people because they’re afraid of being a bad person.

    Which are you? Which would you rather CHOOSE to be?

    Just a thought.


    P.S. You have some great insights, Morty! I love your stuff, and I love the attitude with which you approach things.

  16. mo December 20, 2012 at 11:40 am - Reply

    I recommend the book “how we decide” of Jonah lehrer

  17. Costel December 20, 2012 at 7:35 am - Reply

    Dear Morty,

    very interesting and profound topic to be considered, which, according to me, is also a milestone in understanding how people behave and live.
    What appears to me is that it would be useful to make a distinction between decision and choice.
    Decision is logic by definition and is always related to the past and is based on reason.
    Choice has nothing to do with logic and consequently with the past, and is beyond reason. Here resides the true power as a human being, the rare gift of God to all of us, because if we could do only decisions, we were nothing but mere machines :) ) . Please consider that the machines can not make choices !
    Therefore you are both right in your allegations.
    There is still someting extra about emotions, which I invite to be explored by answering one question: if you do not have emotions ( and some people are well trained in that unfortunately ), how would you know which of your goals and actions are in harmony with your true self ?
    Love and joy
    Harmony & Business Coach

  18. Anemone December 20, 2012 at 4:51 am - Reply

    My take on it is that thoughts and feelings are parallel information processing systems that make sense of sensory input in different ways and allow us to triangulate better on a problem. Both are essential to survival, since people who don’t have feelings make lousy decision makers, as do people who don’t stop and think, plus Nature tends to weed out time/energy consuming systems when they aren’t adaptive. Where things get complicated is in how the two interact, as we think about feelings, then have feelings about the thoughts and so on.

    At a primitive animal level, emotions tell us how to act (as Jason Linder was saying), e.g. move towards something that feels good, away from something that feels bad, or freeze, and that can be life saving when there isn’t time to think (though obviously not always e.g. deer in headlights). But then we start adding thoughts, including probably fairly accurate assessments (e.g. That’s a bear! It could be dangerous! – is that a fact or a belief? what’s the difference?) and inaccurate assessments (e.g. I’m not good enough) and things go from there. At its best, thoughts and feelings team up to give us the best possible information to make a decision; at its worst, they mess us up with all sorts of false beliefs that pull us in conflicting or maladaptive directions. Personally I don’t think it’s the feelings that are the problem, I think it’s the assumptions the feelings are based on. Feelings are fairly primitive, and just tell us how to act. I think it’s the more sophisticated thoughts that mess things up. For example, when people feel guilt, they tend to assume it’s a judgement, but on a pure action level, guilt just tells us to repair a relationship that matters to us – it says nothing about whose fault it is. The blaming is a cultural assumption, and not really logical. (Ditto for shame, and even anger in some people. Maybe all negative emotions?)

    I guess I figure that at their core, feelings are pure logic on an animal level, but we don’t understand them well and misinterpret them all the time. And then we blame the feelings.

    You don’t have to believe that feelings lie to use the Lefkoe system, you can also believe that what we believe about feelings is the lie, and that feelings themselves just aren’t sophisticated enough to lie. I suppose it’s just a belief either way. ;)

  19. Sazali December 19, 2012 at 7:26 pm - Reply


  20. Elizabeth December 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    A thinking part may have an agenda that is not immediately apparent. A ‘logical argument’ usually comes from a perspective. When I was in a debate society in high school I learned to argue both sides.

    It is foolish to assume that just because something is logical, it is also objective and unbiased.

    And emotions can have a wider, more inclusive intelligence behind them. Intuition.

  21. Elizabeth December 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    Sometimes you have to take seriously that when your feelings contradict your “reasoning” there may be good reasoning behind the feelings as well as the part that “thinks” it’s right.

  22. FR December 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm - Reply


    I believe that both you and your daughter are right. I think you hit on this at the end of your post. Intuition is very different than spontaneous (emotions) fear, anger, etc. I have used my intuition in business and in life on a number of occasions and it has often helped guide me to the right answer. To me intuition is ‘pattern recognition’. What drives my intuition is usually something I have either seen or experienced before. I believe this is what both you and your daughter were trying to say to each other. The key here is that I have also learned to reconcile my intuition with logic. In other words, if my intuition is guiding me one way and logic the other way, I often pause and consider the reasons for that – the ‘why’. There usually is a reasonable answer that ties directly back to my values. Love your stuff…

  23. Brandon December 19, 2012 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,

    I’m glad you wrote this post because it really got me thinking. I’m someone who has spent nearly his entire life making decisions based on how I feel about them; I’m just recently starting to realize that isn’t the best course of action.

    There’s still some gaps in my understanding however. I agree that making decisions based on what’s rational and logically is a good way to live your life but I’d like more information about how you ascertain what is logical and rational.

    For example, I may really want to become a movie star — but doesn’t “logic” tell me that my chances of that happening are slim so I ought to pursue a different career path. Even though me pursuing a different path isn’t what I want.

    Or, maybe you’re suggesting that me wanting to become a movie star isn’t something I want after all or may not want in the future. If that’s the case, should we just ignore our wants/desires altogether?

    I’d like to see a follow-up post with more suggestions about how to understand what is actually “logical.”

    • Morty Lefkoe December 19, 2012 at 11:18 am - Reply


      When I refer to reason I mean taking into account all the relevant information.

      If you want to be an actor and you know that you love what is involved in acting, it isn’t just that you want to impress others, then that is a relevant fact. And it is relevant that the odds are against you making a living at acting. So you might have to take all types of part time jobs to earn a living while you are trying to get acting jobs.

      That is all relevant information. If you have chosen to be an actor and are willing to deal with the probably (but which may not be true) consequences of that decision, then go for it.

      If you felt like becoming an actor and never checked to see the source of that desire (enjoying the process of acting or trying to impress others) and never looked at the possible consequences of that decision (having to do a lot of part time jobs for many years), that would be acting on emotion and ignoring reason. If you considered all this information in addition to feeling like you wanted to be an actor, that would be fine.

      Thanks for joining the conversation.

      Love, Morty

      • Brandon December 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm - Reply

        Thanks for clarifying Morty. We’re always told to be “rational” or “logical” in our decision-making but few people can explain what they mean by that. I think you did a good job summing that up in a way that makes sense.

  24. Elizabeth December 19, 2012 at 9:59 am - Reply

    It seems like this topic brings up a fountain of different ideas. It’s a classic debate. Our culture seems to be on the feeling side of the scale. Hence the popularity of a song like “Feelings”.

    The more posts I read, the more I see the complexity of this debate. How thoughts and feelings and values
    are intertwined. How important it is to tease out the threads and identify our beliefs, values, feelings, judgements,
    as well as “the facts” of the situation.

    I sometimes had trouble with decisions because the more I understood, the more I followed the lines of logic, the more difficult it was to hold all sides of the argument, let alone follow the threads of implications, the possible long term consequences of an action. The possible as opposed to the likely and the inevitable…which brings up the question of what can we control?

    I find myself often deciding on a course of action and then a rebellious part of me kicks in and I do the opposite.
    I have learned to outwit this part. I make a list. Then I prioritize it. Then the rebel decides to do number 10 on the list instead of number one. I am still on my list, but I get a really big kick out of doing the “wrong” thing,
    I enjoy myself, which then leads me onward to do the other things on the list with a feeling of freedom and enjoyment. Eventually I get to 1. but instead of being driven, I am driving.

    So thought and feeling are intertwined. I suppose I have a part that believes if I do everything the logical way
    I will lose my freedom. Does this relate to Morty and Brittany’s discussion?

    I would really enjoy anyone’s thought’s on this…

  25. Adria December 19, 2012 at 9:28 am - Reply

    Interesting post, and I believe you both have a point. I think there’s something to be said for the different ways in which men and women relate to their emotions as I think we are ‘wired’ differently. I see this playing out to some degree in the father vs. daughter points of views as well as the comments below, and I wonder if you have any thoughts on this? Thanks for the post which has inspired thought!

  26. Liz December 19, 2012 at 8:58 am - Reply

    Very interesting post. I grew up thinking logic was king and turned into a very logical, rational, level-headed young adult, makigpng all the ” right, logical ” choices. However, as I entered my late 20’s and early 30’s I realized that this way of living (taught to me by my dad) was making me ignore my emotions and leading to a lot of problems in my life. Totally ignoring what “felt right” and moving along life with my head, my feelings started to scream for attention causing anxiety and many physical health problems. Through therapy I started to listen to what my gut was saying, and it was all about emotions, not logic. So I have learned to listen to my emotions and it has become invaluable in treating my anxiety and helping my body stop making itself sick. The logical part of me is still there, so I do always try to find what is causing the emotion and I still think things through, but I am actually trying to learn to act on emotion more often and think less.. Sounds strange, but I am more happy and less anxious when I do. I’m not saying that one should act on emotion alone for major life decisions, but they play as important a part in life and decisions as logic does.

    In addition, I’d like to point out something else: when you try to make a logical decision, there are usually pros and cons to each possible choice. How does one decide which pro or con is more important? I suspect emotion helps you decide which is more important to you.

  27. Jon December 19, 2012 at 8:47 am - Reply

    Hi Morty,

    I’ve been following many of your articles for some time, but this is the first that has moved me so much to respond. I think your ideas are very much on the mark here, but what’s more, I think they are so valuable – because they go against a lot of so many messages that come to us from popular culture – and yet they are so practically important to making good decisions.

    Also, I feel your distinction between intuition and emotions is really enlightening and again, right on the mark.

    Throughout my youth, I think I gave too much weight to emotions in important decisions in my life, and I see how I pay a price for many of those decisions. But really, before I met ideas such as what you present here, I really did not know any better – I just assumed – and accepted the messages taken from popular culture about the importance of feelings – and didn’t receive many messages about the importance of reasoning, or ‘thinking’ to contradict those notions.

    As a final note, for those who might be interested in exploring these ideas more, there is a book I would like to recommend. It is called “Think”, by Michael R. LeGault. I have no association with this author or publisher – I stumbled on the book myself – but I think it is worth recommending and is absolutely about this topic.

    Thanks again for your potentially life-changing messages that you put out there for us, Morty!

    (As one last note, though it may not be necessary, I’d like to point out one place which I happen not to agree with you here on – which is where you seem to me to be saying that we can choose to value things such as ‘telling the truth, respecting others, or not harming others’ as our values, knowing they are not ‘the truth’.

    I’m afraid I don’t completely agree with what I understand as a relativistic attitude towards basic human virtues, which besides our reason confirming, also all the central founders of the major world’s religions have confirmed throughout the ages.

    I believe we must always guard against fanatical thinking, and the taking up of extremist absolute belief systems which are perhaps one of the most dangerous things to civilization today, but I have no problem affirming the truth of age old values such as telling the truth, kindness to others, and the like.

    Obviously we both agree that those things are good, but it seems that I accept the belief that there is something inherently good about virtues such as truthfulness, regardless of what meaning people do or do not give to them. Perhaps this comes down to a difference of belief about whether there is a benevolent creator of this world or not – myself affirming that indeed there is.

    Anyway, that’s another topic. I really appreciate your ideas and admire yours and Shelly’s work. Thanks so much!


  28. Heather December 19, 2012 at 8:26 am - Reply

    I think both Morty and Brittany are right. Emotions and feelings are fickle, and I believe they need to be checked out and corroborated with another source, logic or intuition, before making a decision. Different situations call for different approaches. Sometimes the logical answer is obvious. Other times we have only sheer intuition to guide at a critical moment.

    I also think Oranj pointed out something very important. While not every logical decision is based in fear, any decision made from a place of fear probably won’t turn out well, at least that’s been my experience. Decisions made with love for others and self at the forefront generally do turn out well though. And what are love and fear? Feelings and emotions. So it seems each piece has it’s place in the puzzle. We simply must determine what aspect is most important to us. As Ian Lungold used to say, what you pay attention to is what you become conscious of.

  29. Evgeny December 19, 2012 at 7:33 am - Reply

    Hi Morty, I respect you and I’ve learned a lot about limiting beliefs from you. but I agree with your daughter I think she is right and you are stuck with your opinions and this is the problem you are not willing to open up to her experience which is not a rational thing. you are trying to analyse it with your brain with those formulas that you created and may be you feel safe in this way. what is your problem to let go to put aside your intelectual guarding walls? Life is not only about analysing every event and making distinctions from the meaning that we give . there is something more powerful and exiting within us that if we try to analyse it we will miss it. i had a similare experience as your daughter also in Europe that changed my life just a couple of month ago. before that i used to stop and analyse every event that i’ve been threw or the once that i expected to go threw i felt good because i was in control of my life but after the experience in Europe i realised that i didn’t feel a live and thats different from feeling safe secure or in control and i understood that if i would continue to live like that for another two hundred years i would not feel a live. your daughter gave you a great opportunity to wake up but unfortunately you can’t see beyond your opinions try just once to open up and see what happens. some time we need a kick in the left lobe of the brain just to see that there is a life out there.

  30. Sky December 19, 2012 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Brittany, two thumbs up!
    Morty, I commend your persistence in defending your point!
    Logic has access to a VERY LIMITED amount of information we observe or can learn. It is based entirely on “what is” and does not take into consideration a possibility to create new opportunities.
    Intuition, on the other hand, taps into the Infinite Intelligence and directs one’s creative force. By acting on our intuitive nudges, we expand the reality and create new versions of it.

  31. Zero December 19, 2012 at 7:03 am - Reply

    But I have a question about our intuitions. Our intuitions also appears to us as feelings. It is nothing to do with rationality and may be even with experience. Although, in opposite to, lets say usual feelings, which definition is- they are all about meanings we give to meaningless event and consequently can not be precise, intuitions-feelings are usually tremendously precise. And here is my question. Where does the line lay between those two- simply feelings and intuitions-feelings? Or how could one distinct one from another?

  32. Oliver December 19, 2012 at 6:59 am - Reply

    A very interesting and challenging post

    I must say, that the first half gave me the impression that the responses were simply, ‘too mechanical’ (although on some of them, I did agree with…)

    On the other hand, when you explained yourself fully (on the 2nd half of the page), it seemed less, ‘mechanical’ and made more sense.

    From what I gathered, it’s down to how you define emotions, are they the same as feelings (and to some people, they are different) and the correct relationship between logic and emotions

    I have to agree that intuition, or a, ‘gut feeling’ serves us well (well, has served me well over the last few years anyway…). But you could argue, that a, ‘gut feeling’ is an emotion, not at all logical… yet I have followed my, ‘logic’ for 10 years, (and to no avail)

    Just an observation, but when I followed my, ‘gut feeling’ my life seemed to change for the better…so which is correct- the feeling, or the logic (or is it about getting a balance between the two?)

    Very interesting post, thankyou once again. It’s raised some good points;-)

  33. Samuel December 19, 2012 at 5:11 am - Reply

    Thank you for this great post.
    I think this such an important topic.

    I agree with you that emotion are subject to change and are absolutely not a good basis for making decisions.
    In my eyes you didn’t emphasize intuition enough in making decisions. Most people mix intuition and feelings all the time… it is also quite hard to distinguish the two. But we all have intuition all the time.
    When I ask my self to do or not to do something… I know the answer…. I know what will be good for me. But often I don’t know that I know.
    And intuition is talking to me all the time… but do I listen? Can I hear it?
    Intuition is higher knowledge that is send from (higher-)self to me.
    I would be good advised making decisions based on intuition only, if I could reliably use this source.
    But the voice of this source is often much quieter that emotions.
    Especially difficult is to distinguish between the inner knowledge: it will not good for me, don’t do that. And having fear. Both feels very similar… And I have to slow down, rewind, and check and listen very carefully to see who is advising me here.

    So again, I agree that emotions as you, Morty, define them, are not a reliable good source for decisions, because that don’t tell you who you are, but merely what you learned to believe. On the other hand, emotions as many people think is intuition, is a great source for decision making.

    That would my view of things.

    Thank you Morty again. I appreciate a lot you being so personal in you blog.


  34. Nate December 19, 2012 at 4:02 am - Reply

    Thanks folks for the great info! Below is my two thoughts.

    You may look at an emotion as part of an unconscious belief that has usually been around awhile. In fact the emotion and it’s connected meaning at one time seemed perfectly logical. I suppose you could create a whole system out of looking at emotions and trying to find the out of date logic that drives them.

  35. jason linder December 19, 2012 at 3:57 am - Reply


    Thought-provoking post. I admire your attempt to turn everything into logic. However, whether emotion should or shouldn’t guide action is irrelevant, as it does all the time. The more relevant question is how exactly are our emotions guiding our actions? Rational thought isn’t as constant as you claim either. It’s also fluid, based on the current state of the economy, relationships, the weather and such.

    The word e-motion is called emotion because it’s the strongest force that propels us into action. Latin word roots. Years ago a father shot his daughter who was simply hiding in th closet as a prank because he thought she was a robber. This was overtly totally fear driven, whether or not you claim operating from pure rational thought would be better. We have reptilian brains embedded deep into our central nervous system that you simply can’t bypass with belief or logic training. Our reactions our automatic, deeply programed in our biologiy. That’s how we’re built, emotions primarily guide us, not logic.

    The Lefkoe Method is simply amazing. Nonetheless, if you try it to every situation, all the time, so adamantly, you run the colosal risk of treating everything like a nail just because you have a hammer.

    • Morty Lefkoe December 19, 2012 at 11:26 am - Reply

      Hi Jason,

      You write: That’s how we’re built, emotions primarily guide us, not logic.

      I agree that that is how most people act. I wasn’t writing about what most people do, I was writing about what works best for most people most of the time.

      And using emotion as one piece of information (as I discussed in detail) and then relying primarily on information and reason, makes the most sense in the long run. Relying on emotion without thinking (as the father who shot his daughter in the closet did) will get us into trouble more often than if you add information and reason to the emotion.

      I never said to ignore emotions, especially if you figure out what is causing them. I just said relying on them as the primary motivation in acting is dangerous.

      Thanks for joining the conversation.

      Have a good trip to Vietnam (I think that’s where you’re going).

      Love, Morty

  36. charles Anderson December 19, 2012 at 3:51 am - Reply

    I totally understand what you’re saying. However, do you agree that most buying decisions are based on people’s emotions and not their logic? And if so, are you suggesting that emotions should be tossed aside when making buying decisions? You agree that we make mistakes using logic to make decisions. You go on to say, however, that the chance of making a decision that serves us well in the future is more likely using logic than emotions. Based on your conclusion, are you suggesting that the great majority of buying decisons, we make don’t serve us well?

  37. James December 19, 2012 at 3:50 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing. Guess it can be frustrating when someone close to you doesnt agree with your decision-making philosophy and frustrating for them if they think they are being limited in some way they do not want.

  38. Michael December 19, 2012 at 3:33 am - Reply

    Dear Brittany and Morty,

    What is your view on overcoming laziness? Working hard sometimes just feels too difficult or annoying, even though I logically know I should, especially as there are lots of other fun and easier things I could do. Even after eliminating related limiting beliefs (e.g. “I’m not good enough”), concentrating and putting in the actual effort is still hard. It’s basically an issue of consistently motivating myself to concentrate, which hasn’t been covered here very much.

    Best wishes,

  39. Marc December 19, 2012 at 3:09 am - Reply

    Well, this is certainly an interesting topic.

    Firstly, I notice that women (I’m speaking generally now) are more in touch with their emotions then men are. I can see how they would be more resistant to what Morty has to say on the subject. On the other hand, I notice that men tend to be less controlled by emotions and are more logical. So what Morty has to say would probably resonate more with them.

    I do agree however that emotions are a result of your thinking (ie. values and beliefs). Certainly if you’ve evaluated your thinking, then emotions are valuable. I don’t think that Morty is wanting to disregard emotions, but rather just understand them (i.e. what triggered them). I think emotions are an excellent guide to quickly tell you what you think of the current “occurring”. The question then is, is your thinking in error?

    I really liked what Yvonne (above) had to say about love vs fear. It seems to me that we can use emotions to discern how something resonates with us (ie the center of our being or spirit). For example acts of love, giving and kindness tend to resonate with everyone regardless of their beliefs, hence we “know” that these things are good for us. The thing we’re after here is awareness. Drugs might also feel good, but certainly aren’t good for us.

    I think logic is an excellent way to make decisions, however if we ignore emotions then life will seem dull and boring. We should use emotions to give life that extra spice, but we should understand where they come from.

  40. Yvonne December 19, 2012 at 2:45 am - Reply

    I totally agree with everything Laura has written above.
    Though I think your program has many benefits, it is, in my opinion, too focused on “head” and not enough on “heart.” (And I dont’t mean emotions when I say heart, I mean love.)
    You wrote: “What makes sense rationally will continue to make sense forever. The logical answer doesn’t change from day to day.”
    I disagree. What makes sense rationally constantly changes, because as you later say values or logic are simply beliefs. Those change. The only way you can truly guarantee that a decision is the right one is if it is made out of pure love.
    I know the difference in the state of being when action comes from love or from fear, and it is intuition, not logic that lets me know the difference.
    Sometimes, when I am driven by fear, logic can help get me calm enough to be open to love, but in my experience logic or reasoning has not yet produced the leap that shifts me out of fear. Being open to love does that, and that opening comes from something that is way beyond the logical mind.

  41. Oranj December 19, 2012 at 2:44 am - Reply

    Using logic as a guide is based on FEAR on the other hand
    and using emotion as a guide is based on LOVE driven attitude like whatever happens I will be fine etc. It is just difference between attitudes and both are right in their own ways!

    • Lucio December 19, 2012 at 10:42 am - Reply

      FEAR is not the same as being REALISTIC. Making logical decisions does not mean you’re afraid, it just means you’re using your intelligence and experience to consider possible outcomes and consequences of your actions, and act accordingly to what you think it’s best. Basing your decisions SOLELY on emotions is NOT “love” (I don’t know what has love to do with anything in this discussion), it’s just being lazy and skipping the necessary rational thinking.

      Good decisions are based in the GOOD information, and it’s true, sometimes our emotions are a reflection of our instincts and we have evolved to have instints that somehow serve us as guides to decide what we should do when we don’t have much information. But we’re not primitive human beings anymore living on the wild, we live in a modern world where we HAVE access to information, and we CAN use the information at hand to make the best decisions without leaving our primitive emotions do the job on their own. Emotions should always be taken into account because they’re telling you something, but are NEVER a better source of information than rational thinking.

  42. Joshua Cartwright December 19, 2012 at 2:36 am - Reply

    Very interesting post. I especially agree with the idea that we want our emotions to validate the meanings we give to events. However, as emotions tend to follow as ‘logical fate’ from the meanings we can’t be pleased if our emotions feel differently to the meaning they come from – because they won’t!
    I think perhaps your daughter would welcome the idea of due diligence – when she went away without any money presumably you would have rescued her if she had been unsuccessful! Thus, she could act on the feelings knowing that there was a ‘logical’ framework in place. I am heading to south america soon and there is a certain part of the city I feel I would like to see BUT logically I know the chances of me being attacked in that particular strip of street is really high. So my feelings will get ignored unless I take armed bodyguards!

  43. Sazali December 19, 2012 at 1:50 am - Reply

    Hi Morty. Very interesting post and I can’t help but agree with you. Most of us thinks that making decisions based on emotion is a valid act but few realize that it’s actually a decision made based on values or beliefs as you’ve clearly pointed out. And values/beliefs varies with as many humans there are on this planet (and the conflict that comes with it !!).

    Take respect (values) as an example. This may be important to one person until he bumps into others whose idea of respect is, probably, at the bottom of his values hierarchy. You can imagine the emotions that can come out of it if they find themselves confronted with each other.

    Yes, decisions made based on logic/rational thinking and in context with the big picture is the sensible way to go. Then we can validate/evaluate it with feelings and I think that’s where emotions can be of great value to us.

    If your daughter had “making decision by thinking it through logically before deciding” as part of her values, then probably she’ll have the appropriate feeling (and we won’t have this post coming from you, lol).

    I enjoy this post. Thanks.

  44. Laura December 19, 2012 at 1:35 am - Reply


    Your ideas about emotions and occurrences are generally amazing, but this idea that emotions should be tossed aside in decision making just feels wrong. The majority of our thinking is unconscious, and we often are strangers to our own thoughts and beliefs, the very fact that your program is predicated on. So what happens when you have evaluated all sides of a decision using only logic and can’t come to a clear answer? Emotions are directly in contact with our subconscious minds, and while they can direct us toward our limiting beliefs that trigger negative emotional experiences in us, they can also direct us toward our desires and values, which bring about positive emotional experiences. Isn’t this how we choose our own values anyhow? By deciding which ones “feel right” and bring about positive emotional experiences?

    It seems dangerous to me to continue defending your hypothesis of emotions to your daughter when you’ve never experienced the world through her eyes. Perhaps she is not as aware of her subconscious desires as you are, and she needs her emotions to help steer her in the right direction. While you suggested that you felt like you were open to her point of view, your actions suggested that you weren’t. You didn’t respond with questions about her experience with emotions and logic, you used your own experiences as a universal rule to guide you to share with her your truth. I love your program Morty and I think your ideas are beneficial 90% of the time, but in this case I think it could help you to listen to other peoples’ perspectives more before trying to change them, because not everybody shares your neurological makeup.

    Thanks for your post.

    • Elizabeth December 19, 2012 at 5:18 am - Reply

      I love your response!!! Even though I agree with Morty in a logical sort of way, there was something missing and it was the empathy element for her point of view. I think our emotions hold a lot of information about our values and beliefs and can be used as entryways into inquiring into those. Also there is a distinction between values and beliefs. Some beliefs are about reality and prejudice our thinking towards negative. (the ones that prejudice us towards positive seem to not have as deleterious an effect) are felt deeply and also have a cognitive element. They act as guiding principles.

      In any case thinking is often intertwined with feeling. When we examine thoughts or feelings deeply, there are mostly going to be elements of the other.

      When I have a reaction to someone at a gut level, it might be instantaneous, but the unconscious mind makes an assessment based on a lifetime of observation. Although I should not trust my gut feeling completely, I have found it to be mostly amazingly accurate when it comes to “getting” where people are. There is an intelligence at work, albeit it appears as a “feeling”.

    • Dean December 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks for offering a window into your lives. I liked Laura’s post (12/19: 1:35am) as it hit home with my experiences in offering logical advice.

      I have really shied away from offering up any advice to the female relatives in my life (my sister in particular) as I found these “emotional landmines” to be outside of my understanding. While I am coming from a place of wanting to help, my intentions tend to be misinterpreted and upsetting. I feel the reasoning in my logic is usually sound and coming from a good place. However, I tend to find myself rejected for awhile.

      It might not be a case of who is right, wrong, do you agree or disagree. Possibly, women just want the freedom to make their own choices and feel good about themselves. If they are unhappy and want a better understanding of what is making them unhappy, it might be an avenue for a logical discussion.

      Thanks for the post and for doing what you do. It helps me a lot.


    • Sheila December 19, 2012 at 3:19 pm - Reply

      Laura, you expressed perfectly what I couldn’t articulate. Thank you so much, as I was very frustrated trying to get Morty. I think he is awesome, but just did not seem helpful to his daughter. She is more of a heart centered person to me.

  45. stephen December 19, 2012 at 1:17 am - Reply

    Great post Morty – I really like the fact that you and your daughter have the kind of relationship where you can discuss deep & meaningful things the way you do. I guess this resonates with me because most of present (and seemingly never-ending) unhappiness comes from the fact that I have for all practical purposes “lost” my relationship with my children (whom I have not seen in 6 years now)

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