...practiced Buddhist meditators deploy their brains with exceptional skill. Drawing on 2,500 years of mental technology—techniques for paying careful attention to the workings of their own minds—they develop expertise in controlling the flow of their mental life, avoiding the emotional squalls that often compel us to take personal feelings oh, so personally, and clearing new channels for awareness, calm, compassion and joy. Their example holds the possibility that we can all choose to modulate our moods, regulate our emotions and increase cognitive capacity—that we can all become high-performance users of our own brains.
(from Mastering Your Own Mind by Katherine Ellison - Psychology Today Online)
I have always felt that we have control over the emotional part of our brains, but it takes a certain strength of will, a special resolve, to actually overcome one's emotions and think about a situation rationally. I also think that although we ought to make decisions based on the rational parts of our minds, emotions are there to help guide us through that process.
What would happen if we made a conscious decision to fall in love? How funny could a joke possibly be if we thought about it critically before laughing? How could we grieve the loss of a loved one if we only considered it logically?
I understand that this article is not saying we should always control all emotion, and never react emotionally to a given situation. But, how much control ought we to have over that weird, irrational part of our brains which sometimes allows us to throw caution to the wind and experience life just for the sheer joy of the experience? I find it amusing that I've only recently begun to (occasionally) shut off the rational part of my brain and live based on how I "feel," and I'm really rather enjoying it.
I suppose emotions should be used to augment our experiences. I don't think it would be healthy or safe to live based on what your heart is telling you all the time. I don't think it would be healthy or enjoyable to live solely based on rational thought.
Once again, I guess the answer is moderation....and maybe I'll take up meditation just for the heck of it.