Intuition literally means learning from within. Steve Jobs said, “Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect.” Many people think it’s a gift of the few, but it’s actually something that’s within each of us, though most of us were not taught how to use this sense. All of us know well that “gut” feeling when something is off, or when something is spot on. Like any other muscle in your body, you can learn to trust your inner feeling and it will become stronger.
In Start Right Where You Are: How Little Changes Make a Big Difference, Sam Bennett has written a book for “the overwhelmed procrastinators, the frustrated overachievers, and recovering perfectionists.” The handy book is filled with little changes that lead to big joy, small shifts that can change the world. In the chapter on cultivating your intuition, Bennett offers these ten tips.
1. Break Your Routine
Do something different. Do anything different. Take a different route to work, walk on the other side of the sidewalk, create a new sandwich for lunch from the ingredients in your fridge. Breaking up the monotony will help you to stay alert and aware in the moment, and this kind of vigilance helps you to notice when your intuition is tapping you on the shoulder.
2. At a Restaurant, Choose to Order the Very First Thing You See on the Menu
This one sounds scary to me, but I’m willing to give it a try. Bennett says that if nothing else, it’s nice to have more time for conversation and less time to silently obsess “about the calorie difference between the tuna salad and the Cobb.”
3. Take the Long Way Home
Skip the shortcuts. Let the car lead the way. Walk a different route. Take the train this time. Deliberately get lost, and see where you end up. Trust yourself and leave new footprints.
4. Keep a Notebook Beside Your Bed
When you wake up, record the images you can recall from your dream. Don’t try to remember the plot, Bennett says, since dream logic is too confusing to try to capture. But just a few images can be very telling about what is happening in your subconscious state. Get your thoughts out of your head and onto the page.
5. Try a Version of Automatic Writing
Set a timer, and get your hand moving. Write faster than your mind can think. Don’t worry about capitalization, punctuation, or paragraph structure. Don’t even worry about margins. Just write. Write everything that comes to your mind, and don’t tell yourself no.
6. Right-Hand/Left-Hand Exercises
If you are right-handed, try writing with your left hand and vice versa. In your notebook, let your dominant hand ask a question that you really want the answer to, and let your other hand write the answer, Bennett suggests. Ignore the bad handwriting; it’s part of the process. Keep the dialogue going until you feel satisfied.
7. Talk to Animals
Bennett says you can get quiet and communicate in thought pictures with the animals in your life. (I’m trying right now to communicate thought pictures to ask my dog to stop stealing the Fig Newtons off the counter.)
8. Connect with New People in Your Daily Life
If you feel drawn toward someone you don’t know, reach out in some way. Make eye contact at the grocery store and the gas station. Pay attention to the first thoughts that cross your mind when you meet someone new.
9. Truthfully Answer the Question, “How Are You?”
Take a moment to check in with yourself and give a real answer. But as Bennett says, be cautioned: this might lead to a real conversation.
10. Obey the “How Dumb Would I Feel?” Rule
This one matters quite a bit. Bennett says this rule kicks in when you pull into a parking space, realize your computer bag is in the front seat, and think, “Oh, I don’t need to put that in the trunk; I’m sure it will be fine.” Then you think, “I’m sure it will be fine, but how dumb would I feel if I came back out here and it was gone?” Pay attention to the thoughts that cross your mind. They seem fleeting, but sometimes they are that inner voice whispering.
“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.”
Tricia Lott Williford is a remarried widow, a writer, teacher, reader, and thinker, and the author of three books. Her newest book is You Can Do This. Thousands of readers join her each morning for a cup of coffee as they sign online to read today’s funny, poignant stories that capture the fleeting moments of life. She collects words, quotes, and bracelets, and she lives in Denver with her husband and two sons. You can get to know Tricia through her regular posts at tricialottwilliford.com.