In the heart v/s mind match, is safe to say that there isn’t a clear-cut winner and in most circumstances, one can only strive to balance the two decision making capabilities that govern our existential experience.
One usually associates the mind* with pragmatism, whereas the heart rests close to the free-loving soul and therein lies the difference between the way that we decipher how we feel about a given circumstance.
Do I wish to marry this person?
Am I happy with my current lifestyle?
What do I really want to become when I grow up?
There can be differing answers to all these questions from the heart and the mind. Based on the limited statistical sampling that is yours truly, I have found a few comparisons between the two. I certainly do not wish to generalize for all but I would encourage you to ponder over this based on the uniqueness of your own life stories.
The heart can remember the good that the mind may forget. The heart naturally forgives whereas the mind may resent. Humanity and spontaneity emerge more from the heart; dwelling on negativity and calculated thoughts, the mind.
Thus, a basic conflict arises. This is not to say that the heart is more positive in nature than the mind but as centuries of literature and art have made us believe, love is an emotion that takes birth in the heart, whereas our human mortality plagues us to develop fearful thoughts in the mind. The heart and the mind are also quite collaborative with each other. Anger and jealousy in the mind can promote hatred in the heart, and loving peace in the heart can lead to a more positive mindset.
I cringe when I chance to read a “X number of things to do before you turn 20, 30, etc” kind of bullet point list. Suggesting the reader to leave everything and follow their heart is as misguided as telling them to mindlessly work in a robotic and soul-crushing job so as to retire by a given deadline. Both are extreme ways of living.
The ultimate reasoning is to balance the heart and the mind as both merit their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, post-heartbreak, the mind can serve as an immense source of rationality to move on. But it is heart that can make us believe that we are still in love on account of rosy retrospection. One of the reasons why we may continue to love a person who hurt us (romantic interest or otherwise) is because those memories of loving and bonding are eternally etched in the heart. Perhaps, we shared tender secrets, hopes, and fears about ourselves solely with this person, thereby establishing a soulful connection and whether we like it or not, the heart remembers this for eternity. If there had been a certain negative influence in our life, the mind will help us reach the conclusion that we are better off without that person or thing. The heart, however, can still overpower this rationality by virtue of our fragile emotions. In such a case, it would be wise to listen to the mind and this is how positive thinking can help us overcome deadly addictions. But in other instances, such as leaving a terrible workplace or expressing our affection to a loved one, it would serve us well to listen to our heart.
Coming to original question, which one is best to pay heed to at any given time- heart or the mind?
That answer solely depends on you 🙂
To help you decide, I will share five points of wisdom from one of my favorite speeches. These words belong to acclaimed cartoonist Bill Watterson (of Calvin Hobbes fame).
1) Having an enviable career is one thing, and being a happy person is another.
2)In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive.
3)Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake.
4)A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.
5)Reading those turgid philosophers here in these remote stone buildings may not get you a job, but if those books have forced you to ask yourself questions about what makes life truthful, purposeful, meaningful, and redeeming, you have the Swiss Army Knife of mental tools, and it’s going to come in handy all the time.
6)Your preparation for the real world is not in the answers you’ve learned, but in the questions you’ve learned how to ask yourself.
Here is the full text of his speech: http://web.mit.edu/jmorzins/www/C-H-speech.html
*In our mind, it is important to note that there are many complex layers, namely the consciousness that we can hone with meditation, as well as the subconscious layers that are not within our direct control, all of which affect our thinking.