To be reasonable, you must be able to reason. Our ability to reason is what makes humans humane. And when we abdicate our frontal lobe cortex’s responsibility to interact as adults with others, we devolve into our reptilian brains. And nothing good happens in the Jurassic Park parts of our perceptions.
But reasoning does not come easy. It is so much easier to react. Self-discipline and emotional regulation take work. A recent example of 'anger is one letter away from danger' happened at the most recent Oscars, where Will Smith walked on stage, slapped Chris Rock across the face, and then proceeded back to his seat, where he screamed obscenities at the host. This fight or flight response degrades all of us and shreds the fabric of humanity.
Here are some top ways to ensure your ability to reason is in top form, so you don't ruin your life in a moment of rage or run with the masses off the cliff.
Be Humble: My dear friend and mentor, Dr. Ken Blanchard, has one of my favorite quotes: “Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. It means you think of yourself less.” When you practice humility, you yield the stage to others to hear their voices. You also open your ears to other points of view. I also encourage everyone to read and study Brant Hansen’s book, Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better. This book did more to help me tamper down my sense of self-righteousness than anything I had ever read. When we think we are correct, we feel entitled to act in specific ways. The problem is, none of us is God, so we don't know the other person's motives, and none of us is perfect. That's why we leave the vengeance to Him, because we have selfish little pea brains that think we are right.
Offer Forgiveness: This is all but dead in the age of cancel culture. We even cancel people who are no longer on this earth even to explain their actions or offer an apology! This pith piety is the ultimate in false humility. When we believe ourselves to be morally superior to others, we feel justified in withholding forgiveness and grace. Nothing is uglier to the core than our unwillingness to give others mercy and grace. When we refuse to forgive, we surrender our ability to reason because we refuse to put ourselves in others' shoes. My father, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, had some very un-tremendous things happen throughout his life, from childhood until his last breath. Then, knowing that an unforgiving heart would condemn him to a life of bitterness, he decided to let it go. You can read more about this in his book, Forgiveness is Tremendous.
Exercise Thinking: Reason is rooted in thinking. When we think, we harness the power of our minds to understand and form judgments through the project of logic. F. Scott Fitzgerald has one of my favorite quotes on this topic, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” When we don't exercise our mental muscles and rely on lazy thinking, we regurgitate whatever verbal vomit we digest onto others. The only way to build excellent critical thinking skills is to exercise and train your brain through the process of reading. Reading helps you think logically, teaches you new things, and helps you unlearn old things. Although I grew up with a bibliophile of epic proportions, I never really loved reading. It wasn't until I arrived back home in 2009 and read the little life-changing classic, Books Are Tremendous, that I genuinely understood their transformative power.
Reason is the fabric that holds humanity together. Work to develop your ability to reason and watch what happens in your spirit and soul. Authentic communication happens inside first and then flows out of us. Let’s continue to refine our marvelous minds so that we can be tremendously reason-able.