Love, Will, or Reason: What Is Your Approach to Life?

Given the realities inherent in the human psyche, there are three ways of approaching life in this world. No one exists entirely within a single stream, but each mode has its own distinct set of characteristics. For the first approach, I have used love as a substitute for emotion since people who choose the feeling life emphasize love above all other emotions.

The Three Ways of Life: Love, Will, and Reason

Your authentic self will determine which approach to life you favour. (Image: Thomas Cotterill)

The way of love is a life dominated by instinct with its accompanying emotions. Rewards in this mode of existence arise almost exclusively from emotional gratification and the experience of sensual pleasure, which prompts a sense of eagerly desired physical happiness. It is a crudely conceptualized, non-intellectual, irrational, bodily approach to life, with little manifestation of will, a sort of corporeal drifting from one source of satisfaction to the next. Life lived in this way is often haphazard or even chaotic. People in love with falling in love epitomize the type.

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Janusian and Synergistic Thinking

Creative people are famously unstable, both emotionally and in their thinking; the artistic temperament is moody, and creators openly tolerate polarities in ideas and viewpoints that others reject, and then try to bury. Oscillations between two distinctly different modes of thinking may account for a lot of this instability and openness. Creators are more skilled in the combined use of two kinds of thought processes: linear thinking, which is verbal, logical, sequential, and analytic; and non-linear thinking, which is associative, more image oriented, non-sequential, and non-logical (but not irrational).

The two-faced Roman god Janus

Janusian thinking is the combined use of logical and associative thinking. It can make a creative person appear unstable.

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Are Creative People Less Sane?

Are creative people less or more sane than ordinary people? Creative types are unusually sensitive to the nuances in tone of voice, body language, innuendo, and so forth. They notice more than does the average person; they are perceptive. Regrettably, this ability has a drawback in that it means creators are more vulnerable. Already at risk simply because they are who they are, creators often have a hard life, which, being sensitive, they feel keenly. If their work does not sell, they may suffer poverty. If it challenges accepted views, it may attract enough opprobrium to diminish their self-confidence and dislodge their sometimes-precarious self-esteem. For these reasons, a creator may develop a set of psychological difficulties that resemble insanity. Yet in spite of this, creators retain their special ability with nuance. They remain better equipped to test reality than more ordinary types who, at least on the surface, appear much saner. That sensitivity to nuance, to subtle differences confers upon the creator a remarkable ability to see what others overlook. Those who see more understand more.

Man Woman Yin Yang Symbol

Creative people tolerate awareness of polarities and contradictions rather than trying to bury one side or the other. This can make them seem unpredictable. (Image: public domain.)

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Androgynous Minds Generate Synergistic Thinking

I have written elsewhere that the most creative among us possess the power to combine linear conceptual thinking with non-linear associative thinking. This ability to unite the two thinking modes works the creative magic that sets these people apart. A person who heavily favours one mode of thought over the other will inevitably lack outstanding creative powers.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge claimed that a “great mind must be androgynous.” (Image: Wikimedia)

Just such a situation exists in the minds of ordinary men and women. It is unfashionable to say so, but the fact remains that, overall, men favour a preponderance of abstract, conceptual, linear thinking while women prefer a greater reliance on associative non-linear thinking, source of the old-fashioned, and misnamed, “women’s intuition.” Therefore, being normally one-sided, most of us are limited in our creative reach.

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