“Think, think! What do I do!?”
Sometimes we’re faced with decisions we have to make. And sometimes these decisions need to be made rather quickly, whether it’s over the course of a few days or a few hours.
And it’s really easy to get into the habit of thinking about something until it hurts. And when you don’t come up with an answer, it only further perpetuates the panic.
If you can avoid the panic, then you will make decisions that are more sound. If you try to make decisions while you’re under the duress of any intense emotion, especially panic, then you will most likely make a poor decision.
Sometimes the only way to solve a problem is by thinking, thinking, thinking until your head starts to hurt.
But other times, it doesn’t matter how much you think, you will never be able to predict the future and you’ll never be able to arrive at an answer.
It’s times like these when you have to rely on another, perhaps less documented, part of yourself…your gut.
What if for even just one of your daily decisions, you completely shut off your brain and decided to use your gut?
Have you tried that approach?
What if, when faced with a simple dilemma, you just did what you felt like doing with no questions asked.
It certainly consumes far less computational power than thinking does.
Plus, it’s a great way to tap into a part of your intelligence that you might not use on a regular basis.
And even though it’s not formally documented how “the gut” works, there have been plenty of visionaries, scholars, revolutionaries, and otherwise great people who have touted the unquestionable power of making decisions from the gut.
Perhaps not quantitative, but definitely qualitative. And worth noting.
So how do you make decisions from the gut?
Well it might take some practice, but generally your gut impulse happens separately – and almost instantaneously – from thoughts.
The gut feeling is an impulse that can’t be described. It can be evaluated with the thinking mind, but it cannot accurately be justified…the rationalization is always a hypothesis at best.
A gut decision is not to be confused with an impulse, or even a habit. The gut reaction occurs in response to something, often a question, and is easily overridden by the conscious mind.
What has helped me hear the voice of my gut is just to shut off my brain.
I’ll usually say something like, “I don’t know.” And then I’ll just keep that thought suspended in my mind while I ponder what I should do.
Then I’ll confirm it by asking myself, “Do I feel like doing that?” And if the answer is “Yes” then I don’t usually question it. I just go with it.
Sometimes I’ll question it anyway by saying something like, “Why do I feel like doing that?” And if the answer is “I don’t know,” then I’m usually convinced that it’s my gut talking and I just go with it.
Listening to the gut is sort of a risk-taking strategy. Depending on your level of risk tolerance, you may use the strategy for completely trivial decisions or even potentially life-changing decisions.
I use it for both. I like the adventure and the uncertainty. And I’d sometimes rather just make a flippant decision just because it’s at least an interesting strategy to live life by.
And I have to say that it’s worked out quite well for me.
I mean, I look around me at all of the decisions that people make on a daily basis and it is somewhat disturbing to me how nonsensical they can be, despite the enormous amount of thought that went into them.
Therefore, I have made the assumption that most people, even “intelligent” ones, don’t truly know how to make sound decisions…and I don’t know this for sure, but it is what my gut tells me. So let’s just go with it.
Life just becomes more simple when you save your mental computational power for large, complex problems with lots of moving parts.
And I also think you have to pick your battles in life. Sometimes you can expect to solve a problem by obsessing over it. Other times, you’ve weighed the variables over and over and there is clear answer.
In times like these, it becomes much easier to just make a decision – any decision.
Plus, the strategy has the added benefit of forcing you to become conscious of your decisions, even if you didn’t expend a lot of energy making them.
When you check in with your gut and admit that you don’t know what the “correct” choice is, you’re automatically tricking yourself into at least making a conscious choice, even if it’s not a particularly well thought out one.
Being conscious of your choices is often half the battle, especially when you consider just how many choices we make each and every single day that we are not particularly conscious of.
It is simply impossible – or extremely inefficient at best – to labor over every decision we make during the day. This is true in the same way that we receive millions of stimuli every day…our brains simply cannot handle all of that. So we end up filtering out over 99% of the stimuli that come in.
So when it comes to decision making, what ends up happening is your brain makes many automatic decisions for you.
But if you can learn to become conscious of other decision-making faculties of your being, then you can make low-impact decisions while having the added benefit of becoming more conscious of those decisions.
And, because you’re conscious of the decisions you’re making, you also become more aware of cause-and-effect dynamics.
This leads you to having more instances in which you make a gut decision and then find yourself eager to observe the outcome.
In a way, it’s sort of like gambling.
Making gut decisions feels risky because we have been trained to use our brains all the time…even though it’s totally not feasible and, arguably, much less effective.
I have found my gut to be a great decision maker. There are dozens of times that I’ve made a gut decision on a seemingly important matter and it ended up being right. Whereas if I would have used my brain in these scenarios, I would have never known the joy that the gut decision would have ended up bringing me.
I’ve finally come to the realization that my brain quite often makes stupid decisions. And many times it is worth it to not think about a decision at all and instead rely solely on my gut impulse.
This has nevertheless led me on some crazy, exciting, and memorable adventures whereas my brain would have had me doing the same old boring, worn out shit because, frankly, that’s what we’re all programmed to do.
We’re all programmed for survival rather than to thrive.
The brain knows fear…on a very deep, primordial level.
The gut, on the other hand, knows no fear. And I have found that fear is always something that holds you back from all of the wonderful things this life has to offer.
So to this I say “fuck fear” and embrace uncertainty.