When faced with choices, some people are guided by logic, others are guided by feelings (intuition); but most people are guided by a combination of both.
The actual proportion of feelings and logic put into the decision process varies from person to person, and even for the same person it's not the same all the time.
How does this matter? What's the difference between people who use more intuition and those who use more logic? Well, those who use intuition and feelings to make decisions tend to be happier than the logic folks. Give intuition a try if one of your goals is to be happy and you don’t seem to make progress as fast as you’d like to .
Right. So where do I start?
If you don’t know how to use intuition, or if you think you don’t have any, you should know that it's actually an innate skill which you somehow forgot. That’s good news. It can be re-learned, and the more it’s practiced, the better it gets.
Intuition is closely related to feelings. When faced with decisions, each option has a different feeling attached to it. The skill is to recognize the feeling attached to each option. After that, the decision is easy.
The best way to explain this is with some examples.
Example 1: Should I go for this new job offer?
You just got a new job offer – to make the example easier, the offer is final, non-negotiable. There are only two options: accept it or decline it.
Your logic is cluttered with facts that make it difficult to choose. It pays better, but you have to move to a new place. You will have a better status (title), but you might just get that in your current job in a couple of months anyway. It’s a big name company that will look great on your résumé, but you've become close friends with people at your current company. All these facts: money, friends, hustle, status, environment, future opportunities, ethics – fight in your head. This creates stress, and you're afraid you might make the wrong decision and regret it later.
Instead of thinking so hard about it, balancing advantages and disadvantages, try another approach. Sit down, take a deep breath and try to clear your head. Then think about the whole situation, how you got there, why you got there. You may find that the situation is the result of several wrong decisions – it doesn't matter now. What matters now is how it can change. Think of each option, and as you think of it, mentally take a step back and notice your feelings as you contemplate that option. Most of the times, one of the options has feelings of easiness, tranquility, relief, maybe even happiness or courage. The other option feels like urgency, rushing, confusion, uneasiness, stress, and anxiety. The decision is simple – go for the good feelings.
For beginners however, there is a pitfall: to mistake the lack of courage for easiness and relief. At the same time, stupidity (trying to fix things that are beyond fixing, or simply not worth your energy investment) must not be taken for courage. Don't worry though. After you practice a few times, you will easily and effortlessly distinguish between the real courage and the fake one. Practice with small decisions at first, until you've built up some skill. When in doubt, give yourself some more time. Minutes with yourself are worth more than hours with friends.
Most times, things will be clear as to what option feels right. But sometimes, no matter how intently you listen to your feelings, all options seem to generate the same unhappy outcome. You may be tempted to choose “the lesser of two evils”. Well, sometimes you may have to do that, but other times there is also another way, which you can't think of right now. Like, for example, if you really have trouble choosing between the two jobs and you feel both like a necessary evil, maybe you should consider changing your career. Maybe it’s too early for the new job, so it's best to stick to the current job until you've sorted things out. Or maybe you should choose the new job, as that will give you more time to sort things out. Intuition based choices are always subjective (and always right ), and they are your decision alone. No matter what friends say, if your heart says otherwise, you have to be brave enough to do what you feel it’s right, and have the courage to assume responsibility for your choice.
You never regret feelings-guided choices, because:
- you did what you thought was the right thing; maybe your logic said the other thing was right, but you thought it was better to be guided by feelings, so you ended up doing what you thought was the right thing after all, right?
- if you had done differently, nobody can guarantee that the outcome would have been better.
Example 2: Outrageous choices
Sometimes intuition will show you outrageous choices as being right. An extreme example would be "don't take a shower today, go on that date stinking , cover up with lots of perfume or something, or call and postpone for tomorrow." You might think this is too stupid, and take the shower anyway. And then you slip in the shower and hit your head and end up not going to the date anyway, and with several stitches to remind you the lesson for a couple of weeks.
Intuition knows more than logic. These are precious "a-ha" moments that help you build trust in your intuition, and teach you to go for it no matter how stupid it seems.
Example 3: Should I go out to the pub with friends tonight, or see that new movie I bought yesterday?
Again, step back, breathe and think. Which of the thoughts gives you easiness and tranquility, and which of the thoughts gives you uneasiness, confusion, urgency? If none of the two particularly appeals to you, ask yourself why that is. Maybe it’s the wrong movie? Choose another. Or the wrong friends? Drop them. Or is it that you’d like to go out, but are kind of short on money right now? See how you can change that. Or you aren’t short on money either, but just don’t like to pay four times the supermarket price for a beer? Call friends over to your place. Or, maybe you are fine spending money (that’s what it’s for after all, isn’t it?), and you enjoy the company of friends too, but would rather go out with that girl that’s been on your mind? How about calling her? Maybe you want some time for yourself to figure out what you want, no movie, no friends, just you meditating. Find what feels right for you and do that.
A subjective process
Intuition is a subjective process. Choose the options that have feelings similar to:
Avoid the options that feel like:
By practicing, you get better and better and within weeks or even days you will start to see things differently. Your state of mind will change. You'll learn that choices that feel right are the ones that bring happiness in your life, not the ones that sound right.