Doing THIS will come back to bite you

One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to  act solely on emotion when a big decision presents itself -- whether it's buying a car, deciding whether tonight is the night to have sex with your boyfriend for the first time, or moving to the other side of the country for a job opportunity.

Instead, we should aim to strike a healthy balance between the mind and the heart.

Most of us have encountered pushy salespeople at car dealerships, furniture stores, and other establishments. These individuals do everything in their power to sell their product as the best thing since sliced bread. Their goal is to have your emotions override rationality so that all you think about is how nice the leather couch would look in your living room, or how nicely the red BMW would complement your Mercedes Benz -- and not on all the money you'd have to shell out to get it.

Moreover, many men and women say they regret losing their virginity at such an early age. Some even lament rushing into sex with a date or partner they no longer see or talk to. When asked why they jumped the gun, they all respond with some variation of "I wasn't thinking straight." When one's hormones are in overdrive, it can cloud your judgment to the point that all logical thinking goes out the window. Those who are especially contrite have had to grapple with an unwanted pregnancy, STDs, or other undesirable consequences thereafter.

As a third example, many people switch jobs without thinking it through carefully. What happens here is that people tend to focus on what they'll gain from the new job -- better pay and benefits, for example -- but fail to consider the unfavorable aspects they'd have to contend with, like a longer commute. Much like the example I used earlier about slick salespeople cajoling us into buying expensive stuff, recruiters know they can reel us in by playing to our emotions. The grass isn't always greener on the other side, but our emotions lead us to think that way.

The moral of this story is pretty straightforward: snap decisions brought on by intense emotions can come back to haunt us. While it's impossible to remove them completely from the equation, they should be tempered by logic and reason. The key is for our rational and emotional switches to be activated simultaneously. Listen to your heart, yes, but also listen to what your instincts are telling you. Don't let reason kick in only after you've made an emotionally-charged decision. The two should go hand in hand.

Unfortunately, far too many people end up in hot water because they use only their heart to guide their decisions. By melding emotion and reason, however, we are much better positioned to arrive at more favorable outcomes.

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