Which is best?
This question can drive you crazy.
We live in a world that values rational thinking to uncover truth. Yet many of us will spend our lives making decisions based solely on our gut feelings. Where does this schism, this hypocrisy, originate?
Arguably, rationalizing everything may not even be a good thing. But neither is assuming something is true just because we feel that it is. Both are dangerous roads to be on. In the end, truth is all that really matters, and both are paths to it.
Taking all this into consideration, we begin to recognize that some things are objectively observed and shown to work – analysis and reason play the largest role here. But some things are subjective, and take training and mastery to understand. This is where intuition plays a role. Intuition does not equate to assumption or guess work.
Imagine you are a hockey player. In a moment on the ice, you have an intuition to do a move to get around a player. You don’t think about it or analyze it, you just do it, believing it will work. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. But you see that it can work regardless and decide to pursue it on some blind faith: your gut feeling. You then take that intuition and you practice it. After months and months of practice, you head back out onto that ice and try the move. You don’t think about it, it’s become something you can do in your sleep. So when that moment comes, you do the move and it works.
This is what intuition is like.
Imagine you’re that same hockey player, but every time you step out onto that ice, you think about it. You try to rationalize every move in your mind. Things are moving so quickly in a hockey game, you can imagine that there is no time to be analyzing every move you could make.
I find as a general rule, rationalization puts your thoughts in the past or in the future. It takes you out of the present moment. We’re predicting, experimenting, analyzing, etc. before we make a choice.
Intuition puts you in the present moment. Only your relationship with your unconscious mind, mankind’s evolution, and your experiences play a role. They bring you to here and now and you “feel” your way to a decision.
Albert Einstein is famously misquoted as saying:
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
It’s a good quote nonetheless.
You see, we take in the world through more than our five senses. We have many other senses, like our sense of time, or sense of balance. Most of these are subtle and we don’t even know they are happening, but our mind is always interpreting this data and providing us with it’s best assessment and course to follow. This is our gut feeling, our intuition. It’s like a computer that’s analyzing data in the background from many different sensory inputs and just giving you it’s recommendation, without necessarily sharing all the data with your conscious mind to think about.
This is why it’s hard for other people to understand our gut feelings. The other person hasn’t had that same computation happening in the background. Until they see evidence, or better still, experience it themselves, they will always remain skeptical.
It’s the unconscious form of analysis.
I actually do believe that everything is quantifiable in nature. Even our intuition can be observed, measured, quantified. But we know so little about our intuition and have done so little research on it. Most people won’t argue it exists, yet we still have little to no evidence of its existence.
My hope is that in the years to come we change the way we analyze things. That we, like our intuitive minds, use a myriad of data inputs to determine truth rather than taking small, convenient groups of information and using companies with biases to test them.
So the question isn’t whether analysis or intuition is better, but rather that intuition is a more complex and subtle form of analysis. In order to understand it better, we need a better system to measure it.