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Gut vs. Heart

which to listen to?You hear the phrases "go with your gut" or "follow your heart" a good deal, but lately I've been wondering how to tell which is which? When is something a gut reaction versus a heart reaction? Ideally, you'd be tuned in to your gut/heart/whatever and be able to make decisions faster and with better results, but these reactions aren't always the same and don't have the same outcomes.

Getting You Into Trouble
One way they might be different is that following your heart might get you into trouble. Your heart might be pulling you towards something that horse-sense knows you shouldn't be going after. This is the kind of thing that ruins marriages, gets you buying too much house or car than you can afford, or eating bad food or too much of it. "The heart wants what it wants" as some neurotic New Yorkers say, but this isn't necessarily an instinct that you wanna follow. I'm not saying it'll always get you in trouble, but following your heart can definitely have some pitfalls.

Steering Clear
The gut, on the other hand, seems to keep you on the right path, or maybe tells you things you might not wanna hear. A gut reaction is the kind of thing that tells a woman that her husband's running around, or a guy that his company's going down the tubes. To further confuse the matter, sometimes these are things where you might say "deep down in my heart, I know such and such", but the point remains: the gut appears to be broadcasting the truth, whether it's pleasant or not. Malcom Gladwell's "Blink" deals with this kind of stuff, and is pretty good at helping you recognize how marketers exploit the follow-your-heart instinct to sell you crap (which the gut is probably saying you don't need or can't afford!).

So the trick is to tune in to these small beacons that your heart and gut are sending out, and then figure out whether to act on 'em or not. I don't really have an answer other than what I sketched out above, but it's definitely something I'm pondering on these days.