The very essence of instinct is that it’s followed independently of reason – Charles Darwin
Think. Think again. And think some more. Which school do we want to send our child to? (Like we have a choice, given the scarcity of good institutions, and the challenging, and many a time inexplicable selection processes by these institutions) Which job offer should I accept? (You have more than one? People on an average have 0.00073 job offers) Which movie should I watch? (Like it matters. The prices of coke and popcorn alone will diminish your experience significantly, and even Robert Downey Jr’s shenanigans are unlikely to help you recover from this mini financial crisis) What color should I have my apartment walls painted? (White is best and then hand your child some crayons for creativity) Which business deal should I go with? (They all end in chapter 11) Who should I have on my fantasy sports teams? (Read the advice given by experts and then do exactly the opposite) Should I surprise my wife? (You need to understand the difference between surprise and shock very clearly) Which car should I buy? (Buy a few parking spots first and then a car. You can’t lay the eggs first and then build a nest)
Should I enroll in that gym? Should I pursue my passion for cooking on the side? Should I tell him that I really like him? Should I backpack in Tibet? Should I carry a knife to the Black Friday sale? Decisions decisions!! We live in a ‘modern’ world where every decision is calculated systematically and assessed several times. And then there are statistics to back them up. Logic and evidence are the keys to all decision making. However, is a deliberate and computed approach always necessary towards every step we take in any direction during our lifetime? Even if it is necessary, is it always the more effective method? Just like all living beings, we have a ‘gut’ feeling, an instinct, that serves as a primordial compass within our consciousness. It is more evolved in some than others, which is largely because some of us pay more attention to our instincts than others. Just like anything else, instinct has to be honed over time by letting it take precedence in certain situations.
Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself – Oprah Winfrey
I am not against reason and deliberation on matters. On the contrary, I have always favored a well thought out approach towards most things in my life. I love logic and order (To the extent that if I am involved in a debate with someone, I get so engrossed, that I continue to debate long after the other person has taken a quilt, dozed off, and has been snoring for an hour). However, there have been key situations in my life, both big and small, where I have let instinct take over and I am glad I did. I went to college in the USA as a computer science major and after having taken a class in economics, I instinctively took it up as a second major. Fourteen years on, my career has been deeply rooted in finance and economics, which I care for more than computer science, although the skills acquired due to the latter have served me well. I was a temporary contractor in my first job at an investment bank. With my US visa due to expire shortly, I was desperate for a full-time role that would sponsor a work visa. Through some recommendations, I interviewed with a company that was willing to sponsor me, but I turned it down on a gut feeling as I was not comfortable with some of the processes the company had adopted. The following month I received a full-time offer from the bank I was contracted at. My wife was known to my family long before I met her and when we started dating, I had a lot of resistance from them. They didn’t have good reviews about her for various reasons but my instinct told me otherwise. We have been married for almost nine years now, and everyone has admitted that their assessment was inaccurate. My logical brain was telling me to go with the family that I had known my whole life, as opposed to a girl I had known for less than two years. Instinct prevailed over reason. A good decision prevailed over a bad one.
Art is not the application of a canon of beauty but what the instinct and the brain can conceive beyond any canon. When we love a woman we don’t start measuring her limbs – Pablo Picasso
(We only measure the length of the shopping receipt).
The Neanderthals survived purely on instincts, and this gene is still prevalent in us today. Instinct can be life-saving as much as life-changing. Not everything we do can be based on instinct, and reason must prevail in many situations (You don’t want to jump into a river on instinct and then realize you can’t swim). However, some of us tend to overanalyze every situation, which leads to inaction or the wrong action. Sometimes, despite a lot of forethought, we are unable to come up with reasons. Just because we can’t come up with a reason at the time does not mean it doesn’t exist. Time is of essence. Sometimes our heart knows things our mind does not, and we need to trust that feeling.
Do we help a homeless based on logic? Do we hug a friend in pain because we have spent two days deciding to do so? Do we think twice before being rude? A lot of us have accomplished a lot in life based on our upbringing, education, experience, and abilities. And we must acknowledge the significant part played by the profound analysis and reasoning we have used in the process. However, survival, love, hope, faith, courage, integrity, honesty, empathy and passion are all driven by instinct, straight from the heart. And these are human traits among others that impact all aspects of our lives in a deeply meaningful manner.
Let’s not overthink everything. Let’s give our gut a chance to unravel mysteries about ourselves and show us a path that we truly want to and are meant to walk on.
Everything I do in life is framed through the view of a businessman. That’s my instinct. If I go into a pharmacy to buy shaving cream, then I’m going to look for the best deal on shaving cream – Donald Trump
(This is why I say don’t overthink your purchases at the department store, and you may become president one day).
So who you ‘gut’ inside you?