“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Many different philosophies and religions alike all have the concept of a divine gift. It can be called sacred inspiration, an all-knowing presence, following your heart, the word of god or simply intuition. This gift is often denied but is also incredibly powerful and wielding it properly can completely change the direction of life in an instant.
Over the past months, I have been reflecting on what is means to be truly calm and centered. To accept a certain loss of control in your own life and the changes it brings. To know deep in your heart that everything you desire is falling into place effortlessly.
And since then, my life has changed drastically. I have quit my job, started my own business, met the woman of my dreams, engaged her and now live with her in a cliff-side villa overlooking the ocean with an infinite pool in Bali. It sounds absolutely unreal, and it certainly still feels this way.
I could have never dreamed this amount of freedom and joy just a short year ago. I would have simply dismissed the possibility of this ever happening. What changed that made all this possible?
It was the observation, realization and unchaining of The Gift.
We get taught from early age to use our rationality as much as we can. We train youngsters to calculate, rationalize and bring forth arguments that support our choices in life. We indoctrinate children to attempt to control the external world with knowledge and skill.
What would we be without rationality? Rationality has brought great and amazing wonders to the world. Rationality was the catalyst for the industrial revolution that completely changed the way we experience day-to-day to life now. The positive impact rationality has on the world is undeniable. Without rationality, we would still be proverbial buffoons smashing into random objects.
And yet anxiety rates have increased substantially in western society over the past decades. In fact, the rates have increased more in wealthy countries where there is massive education as opposed to low-income societies without access to proper education – and it is in these very places that there is actual struggle to be anxious about!
Has our evolution from the buffoon to the scientist backfired?
Let me throw an idea into the world; It is rationality itself that is the cause of this anxiety. Or rather, the unbridled and unchained usage of rationality.
Using rationality as a hammer to solve all problems is no different than a buffoon smashing randomly into objects until it works.
The Faithful Servant
After all, the rational brain has been designed by evolution for survival and survival alone. It is a faithful servant that is a useful tool for solving many problems, but not much more than that.
Not only do we continue to find increasingly complex limitations in our faithful servant – by way of cognitive bias and widespread irrational behavior in humans overall – our faithful servant is not always our best friend when it comes to our personal development.
It is not designed for bravery, innovation, creativity, gratitude or even happiness. The faithful servant is very convincing when it comes to avoiding any kind of uncertainty and risk. If you ask your servant, the solution to any problem is to stay put and focus on your survival. Whatever you do, do not move!
And it does so even when the servant’s own arguments are irrational – like what happens with cognitive bias. At best, the servant is an unreliable advisor.
The servant shines when it is tasked with solving a finite-dimensional problem where there are a non-infinite amount of solutions – such as math, most forms of science and other formulaic equations. The servant is structural, analytical, detailed and linear.
What happens though – if you present it with a problem of infinite complexity? One of two things will happen – the problem with either get reduced by multiple dimensions (which will make the solution inherently flawed by definition), or the servant will attempt to solve an impossible and incomplete puzzle and be afflicted by analysis paralysis. It will consequently present its usual solution; Whatever you do, do not move!
Following this logic, the faithful servant has a very narrow scope of usefulness. One must take care not to become the servant, instead of the master.
It does not help that the counterpart of the servant is something indescribable. The intuitive mind is magical and beyond thought. Art and religion around the world have tried to describe the inspiring presence of the creative, unconscious mind. It is beyond thought, formless, infinite, shapeless and impossible to observe and measure.
Where does a new creative, out-of-the-box idea come from? How do thoughts arise? How come if you love someone ‘You just know’? If there is a rational servant in all of us, surely there must be an wise magician sleeping alongside it.
As such, the rational humanoid has quickly dismissed this invisible magician as hocus-pocus. However, whatever the magician is – and however you describe it – It wields the force that has shaped the world as we know it.
Let’s go back to the industrial revolution that brought forth untold progress. Was it truly the rational servant in us that sparked the greatest societal changes in history? Or was it the creative, generative power of the unconscious mind that brought forth the creativity to invent unimaginable machinery, innovate industries, lead people towards an uncertain future and challenge well-established scientific theories?
There is a powerful magician in all of us. One that does not know or need all the facts to make a decision. One that can guide us towards an uncertain future and allow us to take action where there is no argumentation to be found. One that can solve impossible puzzles of infinite complexity.
Call it intuition, the word of god, being in the flow, following your gut or following your heart. It is here where we make decisions from nothing. Where we ‘just know’. It’s listening to this little voice in the back of our mind what I call The Gift.
For these decisions come from a higher form of intelligence – our unconscious mind.
Our unconscious mind is much more powerful in achievement than whatever we can achieve with our conscious, rational mind. It can string together events, emotions, wants, needs and old forgotten memories into a constantly shifting masterplan to make your dreams come true.
There are a multitude of books and research on how successful people tap into this infinite unconsciousness in order to achieve their wildest dreams. There is no 1-2-3 steps rational pathway to success. The only ‘road to riches’ described so far by achievers worldwide is to use the power of the unconscious mind to create. (Some great books regarding this subject that I highly recommend are books like ‘Tao Te Ching’ and ‘Think and Grow Rich’)
If you want the impossible to happen – you must first realize it is not impossible. It is simply too hard for your closed mind to view the factual pathway. You must use the unconscious mind. If you want to make decisions that you are unable to regret, you must use the unconscious mind. If you want all obstacles in your way to be removed instantly, you must use the unconscious mind.
But through education and indoctrination we have been neglecting the unconscious magician to the point of a malnourished, weak advisor and overfeeding the rational faithful servant into an obese tyrant.
Where we can feed the rational mind with knowledge, understanding and facts, we must also in equal measure feed the unconscious mind with visualization, affirmations, creativity, mindfulness and dreaming. In the process we literally sculpt our dreams.
Once both of the advisors are well fed and strong, we must – on every occasion – decide which of the two advisors in the mind we should listen too. Like a council, they should both have their say but they also have their area of expertise.
The rational, faithful servant has wisdom in situations where all the facts are known. Math, calculating, learning, process, coding and ‘hard science’ are the arena of the rational mind.
On the flip-side, it is the unconscious magician that should speak when decisions have to be made involving the heart and soul. In these situations, the rational mind is only a burden.
If there are any unknowns, stand guard at the door of your mind to make sure your rational side is not trying to reduce the dimensions of an infinite problem. If so, listening to your rational mind is a 100% sure way at failing at finding the right solution. If you are lucky and pick the right and most important variable you might approximate a decent solution. You will, however, never have the exact right solutions, where all the stars align. Life will always feel like you are fighting against the current.
Notice how most decisions – especially the important ones – all include a high number of uncertainty. Life-changing moves involving love, happiness, creativity, chasing your dreams and where your heart is shouting to run into a different direction all call for an intuitive approach.
We are trained from a young age to avoid uncertainty and listening to our rational mind has become a habit that is hard to quell. This conflict between an attempt to control and the inherent uncertainty in important decisions is exactly why anxiety is so prevalent.
Ruin or Regret
Is listening to your intuition scary? You bet!
There must be trust in the unconscious, faith in a higher power, a commitment to your heart or a ‘fuck-it’ mentality.
Fortunately, making a decision from your intuition will never lead to regret. Regardless of the outcome, you will feel content with your decision. In the worst case, you will feel proud you followed your heart.
Following your rational mind, however, incurs a high opportunity cost. You will remain in the same place, afraid to show your true spirit to the world. You will always find a reason not to do something. In time, you will wonder ‘what if’. You will be anxious if the world inevitably throws a curve-ball in your plan. You will be unhappy that you are not doing what you know you should do.
When people die, they repeat the same regrets, time after time. Regrets like:
- “In hindsight, I wish I tried to start my own business and wasn’t so afraid.”
- “I wish I spent more time following my heart instead of my head.”
- “I wish I traveled the world when I was young.”
They never say:
- “I wish I didn’t try to follow my heart.”
- “Fortunately, I stayed put and lived in my comfort zone.”
- “If only I’d been more rational.”
You will be happier if you follow your intuition into ruin than if you follow your rationality into comfort.