Life is like a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue...
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Over the course of a good education, we learn to subject our beliefs and judgements to critical scrutiny. When reflexive, errant thoughts arise within our minds, we know how to combat them within ourselves and bring them in line with reality. We call this process, this collection of corrective metacognitive tools, “critical thinking”.
But when feelings arise within us, we have been given no such toolkit, no similar standard by which to judge whether these feelings are in need of correction in the first place. At best (or, perhaps, at worst), we can apply often vague, sometimes contradictory religious prescriptions of which emotions are good or bad, or perhaps evil. The precision with which we wield reason and logic may seem more taunting than inspiring, a nirvana beyond our reach.
There is a path to these elysian fields. When we recognize that our feelings
are not in fact some representation of some "truer" self,
but in fact are a kaleidoscope formed of naive, primal drives,
we can tease apart each of these colors and,
looking at them one by one, discern their purpose.
Translated from flutters of the heart
to context-specific goals,
they become strategies no less amenable to inspection
than any rational plan.