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Twenty years ago, I drove with my parents through the desert of Joshua Tree National Park in America. The sun went down, and we started looking for a parking space. When we got to the first parking lot, I asked my father to continue driving. The next one “felt” better.
The next parking lot was only a few kilometers away, and we got out to admire the setting sun. A few more people were also enjoying this beautiful event. We walked around, and the other group came walking toward us. Immediately I recognized an old high school friend I hadn’t seen in nearly ten years. In the middle of the desert! What a coincidence! Or was it the result of my following my feelings, my intuition?
Intuition is also known as a gut feeling or hunches. It is often considered magical, but according to psychology, it is the ability by which hunches are generated by the unconscious mind that quickly searches through past experiences and acquired knowledge.
Daniel Kahneman talks about two systems of thinking in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”
The second system is slow thinking. Making conscious decisions and solving difficult math problems takes attention and effort. For example, we also use it to control our behavior when we are angry.
The first system is the quick thinking system. It contains quickly available knowledge, such as important telephone numbers or the capital of the Netherlands. System 1 requires little effort and is used to make quick decisions. For example, we intuitively quickly know how someone feels based on a facial expression.
This morning I had a hunch not to go for a run because my muscles were sore, and it was raining a bit, so that the steep paths could be slippery. Still, I went trail running. I tripped, landed six feet below, and got a wound in my head that needed stitching.
Sometimes you meet someone you’ve never met and have a hunch that something isn’t right. Gut feeling is not based on logical evidence or bias.
My wife once lost a ring in a stream. We searched for the ring for a long time, and just before we wanted to give up, I had the feeling of looking behind a stone. There was the ring!
Like my intuition to find another parking space, I’ve had countless experiences with this intuition. Sometimes I have listened to and acted on it; sometimes, I haven’t. Then it often doesn’t work out as well as my fall while trail running.
Everyone is intuitive, and we have all had an experience where we were guided by intuition.
Benefits of intuition
Intuition can help you in your life. It can help you with choices, it can protect you, and special encounters can take place. The key is to be aware of it.
Techniques to develop your intuition
1. Wake up!
The first step is waking up and becoming aware of our feelings. Life demands a lot of attention, and we are distracted by external events. Then we are less aware of our own body. Intuition is about integrating inner feelings with external events.
2. Gather experiences!
Intuition is based on experience. Gather experiences. Travel, meet people, read and learn. Be aware of the people and nature around you. Listen, look and feel when you meet people and walk barefoot on the beach. Don’t think about the things that went wrong in the past or all the problems you still have to solve in the future. Go full steam ahead and experience. Your intuition improves as you have more experience because you have more knowledge.
3. Keep a diary
Becoming more aware of your own body helps to have a notebook at hand and keep a diary. In the diary, you not only write down important events but also how you felt at certain moments. Were you happy, relieved, angry, scared, or nervous? Also, write where you felt that in your body. I often get headaches when I’m under pressure, my heart feels like I’m in love when I feel satisfaction, or my stomach hurts when I look up to something. I also write that in my dream journal.
Meditating helps to become more aware of your body and your thoughts. There are countless guided meditations available on the web and on Spotify. The key is to breathe calmly. I wrote about block breathing before. That is, inhale for five counts, hold your breath for five counts, and exhale for five counts. Repeat for about 2 minutes, and you will be more aware of your body and thoughts. It can also calm you down.
I contemplate daily, which helps me better understand my inner and outer experiences. In addition, I chant a mantra that helps me to get in touch with a universal loving force. That power helps me to listen better to my intuition and to act correctly.
5. Start the day with an intention
An intention can help you be more aware of your intuition. Recently, I heard a beautiful podcast. Rodney Jones was the guest, and every morning he asks the universe (God, spirit, the universal power), “What do you want to show me?” It’s about being open to those moments where you can learn and serve life the best.
It’s not always smart to act impulsively on an intuition. Test your intuition by thinking (shortly) about it, researching, or discussing it with others.
And sometimes, you have an uneasy feeling about someone you meet. Do not react immediately but be curious; try to get to know that person better by calmly asking questions and listening. Is your gut feeling confirmed? Then kindly say goodbye.
The quick check
If I have to make a decision quickly and don’t have time for this, I quickly check it with my body. I have a simple technique you can use alone or with someone else. You stretch out your strongest hand. While you are thinking of an option, with the other hand, try to push your outstretched hand down as it resists.
Do the same while thinking of another option. The best option is the option where it took you the most effort to push down your strengthened hand. Then more energy or power went through your body as you thought of that option. Try it if you are faced with the choice of eating a bag of chips or an apple.
7. Start your day with your WHY
The power of your WHY is that it enables you to do the things that give you a lasting feeling of fulfillment. Your WHY is your contribution that affects the world. It is positive, action-oriented, and generative.
-> Reading tip: Examples of WHY Statements
Pronouncing my WHY helps me elevate my mindset from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. It’s about letting your thoughts work together with your gut feeling. It allows me to work better with my intuition to take the right turn, no longer go trail running on a slippery steep path or keep searching for my wife’s ring.
Do you want that too? I can help you discover your WHY, or life purpose. Please read this article for more information about a WHY session, and contact me today for a no-obligation intake!
What experience have you had where you were guided by intuition? What do you do to develop your intuition? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article. and I are looking forward to reading from you!
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Great post, thanks! There’s a some strong evidence of the power of intuition on life and in business in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”. We refer to the intro chapter “The statue that didn’t look right” when we run training on hypothesis-based problem solving.
Thank you! I will put “Blink” on my fall 2022 reading list!