"It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this. " Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970)
It's an interesting concept and one that I think is overlooked today, not only from a personal perspective but also from a professional one.
I used to work for a company that had ‘rationality’ as one of its core themes of employee attributes that needed to be aspired to. If you think about it, it's not a bad behavioral attribute to try and encourage in a firm as it builds stability and therefore long term credibility.
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, one definition of the meaning of rational is: “agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible"
What would happen to all our companies if all their employees behaved in irregular or absurd ways? Remember Barings Bank? Or Ratners perhaps? We don't invest in companies that we deem unstable, we don't buy their products; we simply don't trust them.
So this can also be applied to us as individuals in our ordinary everyday lives. If we behave in unreasonable ways then we send out a message that we can't be trusted either, we can't act in a responsible way so why ‘do business’ with us?
Being irrational lends itself to creating an unhappy and destabilized environment within our families and in our workplaces. Every action has a consequence so if we are in the presence of somebody who behaves without reason, we become uncomfortable and distressed ourselves.
The funny thing with irrationality is that it is a natural and human way to behave - in childhood.
We are a species that evolved over many millennia and developed a whole array of emotional responses to help us cope with our outside environment.
It would make perfect sense for a child to create random drama and excitement to gain attention from its mother, but it wouldn't make sense for an adult to do the same. It is a way of behaving that essentially concerns getting what I want regardless of those around me.
Let me explain further, think of a situation when you saw somebody behave without logic. How did it make you feel? Did you feel awkward or cringe?
It can actually make us feel embarrassed for the person exhibiting such traits or we can become irritated with them. Is this really an attitude that you want to advertise to others?
Think of the times when you've been an outsider or casual observer looking in on a situation. You may have been able to see several solutions to particular problems that those people were experiencing but for some reason that person was completely blind to them.
They continued to behave in a way that seems to have no logical point so in effect hinders getting the issue resolved; being irrational then only blurs the view to the solution.
When we see unsound and unreasonable behavior displaying itself, sometimes all we are witnessing is short-sightedness, selfishness and in some cases, avengement.
The person didn't ‘get his or her toy’ so he or she now displays infantile, counter-productive behavior in order to settle a score or something equally pointless.
Contribute to Overall Justice
Being rational creates a just society in general, how can we operate a fair and harmonious world if it is run by people who can only see what's in it for them? How could we allow self-centered individuals to get what they want regardless of the consequences to others? Our civilized community would just break down; we would be allowing injustice to prevail.
That's why we must strive to act in rational ways at all times, try to detach our emotions sometimes and think: What is the most logical step I could take in my next action or words?
The thing is, it's easy to descend into unreasonable behavior - it seems like the most straightforward way out so why not give it a go?
Well, next time you feel you are going to stress out and blurb out random and nutty verbal diarrhea, just count to ten.
You make much more rational decisions if you pause and calm down. When feeling relaxed and composed, have you ever read an email that you sent earlier in the heat of the moment and recoiled in horror at what you've written? Well, it's a bit like that, there will always be a ‘later on’ so best to get there with your dignity still intact.
You can also try and pretend you are having an outer-body experience and assess whether you would be embarrassed by your own actions. If the answer is yes then you know you're being a klutz; try to think instead: How would a calm and reasonable adult deal with this situation?
I'm quite sure the situation you're in that is distressing you is not as bad as you think anyway and contrary to what you might think, may be out of your control.
So, I think the best way to proceed if you're in a senseless mood is to try and alter your reaction to a particular circumstance. Perhaps it is the way you react to outside, uncontrollable conditions that is at the root of your problem.
Of course, this is easier said than done. You encounter a situation that you've subconsciously added to your instinctual nervous system that equates to fear so you flip out, flap around the place like a deranged penguin and generally make the problem much worse.
So it's going to take a little practice, just like improving your golf swing. You're going to have to consciously take small, repetitive steps to alter your actions. Just try to imagine water brushing off a duck's back next time you feel the storm coming over you.
What's the value of being rational? What's the cost of being irrational? These are two very good questions, I think the value is priceless; the cost catastrophic.
Everything you do affects somebody else, so please think sometimes before you act, it may save your integrity.
Anthony operates http://www.web-entrepreneur-solutions.com offering Web Entrepreneur Resources for E-Business Success.
He enjoys engaging with people to help them bring out their full potential in life.