From an early age, we are taught to be rational and expected to live reasonable lives. Often, we do things because they seem like the logical thing to do. At the same time, we are sure our lives will fall into chaos if we didn’t follow our rules.
What Being Reasonable Is All About
Being reasonable suggests doing what is right, based on a set of internal rules. These rules are self-justified because they came from regulations we have justified in the past.
Economists believe that humans are rational beings who make reasonable choices. When given a choice of one or two dollars, they figure people will always take more.
But this doesn’t seem right, and people often make decisions for a variety of reasons. At times they don’t even seem to care about the reasons that seem obvious to everyone else.
Reasonability comes from science, or so we think. We figure we understand the rules of science, and that they show us the right way to live. We sometimes even pretend that our scientific reasons are a sort of moral guide.
Science itself shouldn’t be a problem. But the way we work with it prevents us from seeing the world outside our own constructed boxes.
People who think they know science often set limitations on what is possible. These limits become even worse when we deny possibilities in our own lives.
Along with this, people often say that nobody has any common sense, but common sense isn’t so common. What makes sense to me, may not make sense to you. So what is common sense to me is not be common sense to you.
On top of this, our sense of responsibility comes from our knowledge and worldview. If we think we are reasonable, which we usually do, then we will act within our frameworks.
We should be careful about assuming what is reasonable for others. Because at times we can’t be sure about what is going on inside our heads.
Why We Try To Be Reasonable?
Our most strong motivation comes from our understanding of the world. We make choices because we think they will bring us where we want to go. Meaning our knowledge of a situation determines which decisions we can make.
At a deeper level, as children, we discover cause and effect. By seeing things happen, we build an understanding of the reasons why they happen.
Being smart exposes us to more knowledge, which in turn creates more rules. These limits create a stricter sense of what being reasonable means. The more we know, the more our choices are confined to our standards.
People who know less may make stupid choices, but for them, they are the best choices they can make. Not knowing the rules in some cases, may even be an advantage.
Being reasonable makes the most sense and sounds like the right thing to do. It is especially true when we ask for advice. We are often told to be rational, which usually means following the same old rules.
Sometimes We Should Be Less Reasonable
Being reasonable can stand in the way of our hopes and dreams. Doing what sounds right, at times can be the worst thing we can do.
As children, we have grand ambitions and dreams about what we can do with our lives. We also have hope and are sure we can make them real.
But often when we ask our parents or someone we trust for advice, they tell us to be reasonable. In other words, they say you can’t make money doing that. This lack of support in a way forces us to choose something more practical.
As we follow their advice, we make choices that don’t feel right in our hearts. After a while, we believe our choices made the most sense. Then we start to forget about our dreams and the other possibilities in our lives.
We rationalize that we need a house, car and vacation. Then we figure we can’t get those things unless we live a reasonable boring life.
With this in mind, we make choices that go against what feels right, but we tell ourselves, at least we get to eat.
Additionally, for something to seem reasonable, we often need to see it happening. It needs to be proven to us by the world. It is challenging to do something you haven’t seen before, which kind of makes it unreasonable.
At times being reasonable sets limitations and barriers to doing what we want. Those barriers may exist, and we shouldn’t forget that. But we also need to realize that they may only be preventing us from trying to do what we want.
At times being unreasonable is essential. Ask someone famous, and they were likely told the most sensible thing was not to try. But they ignored that advice and did something seemingly impossible.
Happiness And Magic
The real magic happens in the moment, which is to say it unfolds quick and without explanation.
When things happen, we try to explain them away with reason and science. Sadly, this approach takes away the mystery which is often what makes them exciting and fun.
As we get older, we forget how to find happiness in what we can’t explain. A great example of this is how children react to a surprise. They get excited and laugh, and they show emotion, but they don’t try to understand or explain.
Kids haven’t had the magic taken away. They still live in a world of mystery and unexplainable things. As adults, we should follow the lead of children and live happier unexplained lives.
Life can be more exciting when we stop worrying about why. Simple things can bring pleasure when they are not understood. We need to try to be open to the unknown and be ok with surprises.
By letting go of rationality, we can see things for what they are, which is often unknowable.
The Real World Isn’t Reasonable
If we focus too much on science, then we will have an explanation for everything. That seems reasonable enough, but can we be sure it is an accurate description of the world around us?
There are lots of things that we can not explain. Popular science gives us the impression that we know a lot about the world around us. But in fact, we know very little about almost everything.
The problem with sticking too hard to what we think we know is that it makes our world small. When we accept our ignorance, we open ourselves up to an expanding universe where things can’t be identified so easily.
Most of what is possible is outside the range of what we can know at any given moment. We can be open and accepting of this explanation, or we can demand proof before taking action. The second, more popular option will only hold us back from doing great things.
Being reasonable isn’t always consistent. The truth is that we don’t understand enough to be too sure about almost anything. Often what we know, is only reactionary, instead, we should embrace the unknown.
A Less Reasonable Life Can Be A Better Life
I am not suggesting you entirely give up on reason. Many real-world risks can and should be avoided. On top of this, throwing all caution to the wind is foolish. Life can always be improved by living well and making good choices.
But we should be careful not to confuse living right with living the best kind of life. Sometimes we need to make irrational choices if we want to be happy and do more meaningful things.
It’s rarely reasonable to follow your dreams, but your happiness often depends on it. At the same time, know that even when you fail, you get satisfaction out of the process. Plus knowing you tried will let you live without regret.
If you want a meaningful life, you need to be willing to step outside what seems reasonable.
While living a sheltered life may feel safe, it won’t force you to look outside of what you know. In the long run, a safe life will rob you of all the most exciting and significant potential happenings.
The best thing you can do right now is live a little less reasonably. Embrace the unknown, and it will bring you more than you would expect.
Don’t let reason get in the way of living the life you want to live.