Mind and heart

This post is dedicated to my friend, to whom I posed one of those unfair “would you rather…” questions the other night.

I asked her, “Would you rather be in a relationship with someone who was really intelligent but didn’t have a lot of heart, or someone who was all heart but had very little intelligence?”

She said heart. “Because the heart,” she said emphatically, “is where emotional connection comes from.”

But that’s technically not true. The heart is just a blood-pumping machine. The brain is where emotion comes from. Everything we feel and think comes from our brain.

However, it would be obnoxious of me to belabour this point because I know, and we all know, what is meant by “heart.” We weren’t speaking anatomically; we were talking about intelligence—being cerebral, and emotion—having heart.

The heart is considered the emotional, moral centre. Love, affection, generosity, compassion, and even courage are considered the domain if the heart. Intellect, reason, perception, conscience, sense, and even will are considered the domain of the mind.

I decided to play devil’s advocate with my friend because it’s fun. I said to her, “You would choose to be with a stupid person? You wouldn’t be able to have a conversation! What would you talk about?” She replied, “We would talk about our feelings. It’s more important to not be with a cold asshole. If I want cerebral,” she continued, “I can read a book or watch Rachel Maddow.”

This concept of a ‘brainy’ person being cold is not an uncommon stereotype. Many people, when considering someone whose mind rules their heart, imagine a cold, calculating, elitist, socially inept neurotic. But, many people, when considering someone whose heart rules their mind, imagine a flighty, unbalanced, moody, unintelligent person who makes spontaneous decisions with little consideration of facts and is a slave to their emotions.

Yet a person whose mind rules over their heart is also reasonable, stable, thoughtful, well-meaning, truth-seeking, open-minded, and considerate. And a person whose heart rules over their mind is also considered passionate, spontaneous, romantic, vivacious, and true to self.

Humans are emotional animals; as I’ve said before on this blog, emotion tends to trump reason. But the mind is important because it protects us from simply reacting to stimuli. We need to process, reason, and arrive at good decisions. The brain is the reigns and the heart is the horses. We need the control.

But the fact is, I had offered my friend a false dichotomy. She shouldn’t even have answered the question because it’s not an either/or thing. Seldom will we be confronted by a person who is only intellect or only emotion. Her point, though, was that if you had to choose between someone who was extremely smart but emotionally cold, and someone who was warm and caring but not very smart, you should choose the warm-hearted person because that’s more important in a relationship.

And this is what got me thinking about the societal stereotype of very intelligent people being cold. I think very smart people can be warm and have good hearts. It all comes down to balance. Deciding what’s important to you, in what quantities, and then I suppose being lucky enough to end up with someone who has everything you need in the right proportions.

Mind and heart, balanced. Like someone who is sweet and kind enough to come over to your house late at night when your grandmother dies, bringing you food and staying with you, but who also asks you every time she talks to you, “What book are you reading right now?”—that’s a pretty awesome person.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I resisted the urge to skip to the end and write that the question was unfair because the question set your friend up to answer in an either/or manner…but you eventually got to it. So never mind.

    Yeah, that person you’re talking about at the end who’s going to come over with a shoulder for you to cry on and some comfort foods sounds amazing…where is she?? Actually, I’m her (LOL), but where’s the woman who’s willing to do that for me back? I’m having a difficult time finding her.

    – Fin


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