Have you ever said to yourself: “oh, I really wish I hadn’t done/said that, I just KNEW I shouldn’t have!” Or, have you ever met someone you immediately (for no apparent reason) either loved or hated? Exactly. Well, today I will be looking at a new study on gut feelings, discussed in a recent Science Daily article: http://tinyurl.com/3x4ljx.
Oh, first, the sentence on house-hunting hit home (no pun intended) with me: when I was house-hunting many years ago, I fell in love with the house that Stefano and I ended up buying, oh but that’s a very long story. Well, okay, in short, if I hadn’t ignored the realtor’s warnings, we would not be living here today. As it was, I followed my instinct and gushed on and on to the then-owners, two elderly ladies, about how lovely their house was. At the signing of the contract, the ladies confided to me that they were so fed up with potential buyers walking through their home and making negative remarks that, the very day we saw the house, they had decided to take it off the market. Then we showed up. As a result of my gushing, the ladies were confident that I would love their house (I do!), so they decided to sell it to us. Point is, I followed my instinct, and we were able to buy our dream house (although a castle in Scotland or Northumberland UK is a close second! ). Okay, enough rambling!
First, what exactly is a gut feeling? I suppose it could be described as a sort of intuitive feeling that we cannot rationally understand but that frequently leads us to make decisions, decisions guided more by emotions than by rational thought.
I am all in favour of following my gut’s “suggestions,” in case that weren’t clear. I recently wrote, e.g., about my gut feelings against starting chemotherapy back in 2005. Those feelings were later confirmed by more than one myeloma specialist. Well, I have tons of examples from my past, but I have digressed enough for now.
Getting back to the article, a team of researchers at Leeds University urges us to take our intuitions seriously. According to a team led by Professor Gerard Hodgkinson of the Centre for Organisational Strategy, Learning and Change at Leeds University Business School, intuition is the result of the way our brains store, process and retrieve information on a subconscious level and so is a real psychological phenomenon which needs further study to help us harness its potential. There are many recorded incidences where intuition prevented catastrophes and cases of remarkable recoveries when doctors followed their gut feelings.
But, quelle surprise!, science has historically ridiculed the concept of intuition, putting it in the same box as parapsychology, phrenology and other ‘pseudoscientific’ practices.
Intuition turns out to be the result of the brain drawing on past experiences and external cues to make a decision – but one that happens so fast the reaction is at a non-conscious level. All we’re aware of is a general feeling that something is right or wrong.
Isn’t this fascinating? Well, there are scientific studies on the brain-gut connection, I read a few this morning, but for now at least I merely wanted to introduce the subject, which is of particular interest to me since most of my best past and current decisions were/are based on gut feelings. How about yours?