I’ve spent too much time trying to make decisions. And you know what – deciding isn’t really any fun.
I’m always happier when I flow through life using my intuition. I’d really like to be making zero decisions and living intuitively all the time.
“…we are largely better at doing than we are at thinking…”
― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder
This led me to ask myself, how do I get better at living intuitively? How do I train my intuition?
To jump ahead for a moment, the simple answer is: you get better at what you do often. You can train your intuition by acting intuitively, by using your intuition in any way at all really. But I was kind of stuck, I was used to making decisions – or trying to make decisions – and I was out of touch with my intuitive self. I needed something more specific, a usable, understandable technique that would improve my intuition in a noticeable way.
At the same time that I’ve been thinking more about intuition – over last few years – I’ve also become more and more athletic. I was always very active but until recently I didn’t pursue anything with goals or training, or even on much of a regular basis.
“To realize the body’s potential for flow is relatively easy. It does not require special talents or great expenditures of money. Everyone can greatly improve the quality of life by exploring one or more previously ignored dimensions of physical abilities.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness
And here’s the thing: once I started being more athletic, I started to notice an improvement in my intuition. The more time I spent doing things with my body, especially authentic physical activities that get me into flow, the more I noticed this effect of improved intuition. I started to think about what the connection is between athletics and intuition – how does being athletic improve our intuition?
This is the answer that I’ve come to: When you’re engaged in authentic physical activity (especially outside), your body is responding automatically – intuitively – to the environment, to the situation as it comes. As you practice this intuitive movement, we train our physical intuition, simply by being active outside.
And then – here’s the magic – the mind observes this, sees the body doing its thing, sees physical intuition happening, sees that the body goes where it needs to go without having to be told where to go, and learns that this is possible. Our mind learns how intuition works – and that intuition does work – by observing the intuitive movement of the body.
“…wu-wei is probably best rendered as something like “effortless action” or “spontaneous action.”
― Edward Slingerland, Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity
If we are active and in flow on a regular basis, the mind has plenty of opportunities to see that spontaneous, effortless action of the body leads to good results. It just works, all by itself, without having to make decisions. The next step is that the mind sees this and says, “hey, that seems to be working for moving the body, let me try that for myself. Let’s try some spontaneous, effortless thinking and see if that works just as well.” And (for the most part) it does go well, which reinforces the mechanism, making it more likely that the mind will allow itself you to go in that direction in the future, to allow intuition to happen, instead of going into more of an analytical, decision-making mode.
We can train and improve our intuition by being physically active (outside). The connection between athletics and intuition is so powerful that I now see that as the central theme of my work.