Tag Archives: cognitive-science

Intuition. Love. The light on the wall.

As a child, intuition was like the lightbulb that pops up when a character gets an idea.   Some books talk about intuition and the difference between two parts of our minds.  Our rational mind and our emotional mind.  How do we get those light-bulb feelings?  Is that the same thing as a “gut” reaction?  There are entire books written about each word of each of the above sentences.  For those interested, How we decide, and Stumbling on Happiness are both good reads.  For the super enthusiastic, that want to learn about decision making and are willing to watch a short clip, I’d highly recommend this TED talk.

What we do know is that part of what makes us human is the ability for our brains to jump to a conclusion about something without really even thinking about it.  I look at you, and I know I’ve seen you, but I haven’t yet figured out how.   You ask me who sings this song, I tell you, but I can’t remember when I heard it, or how I know. Or, regarding love, you meet someone and you’re drawn to them.

What the hell does that mean anyways?  I’m drawn to them?  I don’t know but I love it when it happens.  For no particular reason, I know where the light is on the wall.  What do I mean?  Well let me tell you a little story.

There have been repeated experiments with intuition and decision making.  One of the better examples of the anomaly of intuition involves a blind woman and a flashlight.  A medically blind patient who cannot distinguish light from dark, is asked to face a wall.  The scientist shines a light on the wall and asks the woman to point at the light.  The scientist typically has to calm the patient down, explaining that no they are not trying to offend them, but they would like them to try to find the light.  Want to know what happens?  The blind patient finds the light.  Not every time, but more than what is left to chance. (statistically significant)

Whats the point? How does this relate to love? Love is like intuition.  We don’t know why it happens, but when it does we can spot it from a mile away.  A blind person could spot it on the wall.
We’ve all heard the magic of marriage.  “you will just know when its right.”  What?  How will I know?  When will I know?  We don’t like this answer — it feels like leaving one of the most important things to us up to chance.  “It’s ok honey, you’re time will come.”  Right, Ok.  I agree it’s not just chance, we have to work at it.  But point is, we work for an indefinite amount of time until “the time is right.”  What happens at that moment?  For one the universe has aligned in your favor, and all of the Gods are blessing this moment.  For another, your gut is just telling you so.

  • “This one is a keeper.”
  • “I know you’re scared, but dammit, stick around, because this might be it.”
  • “Put yourself out there.  Love is worth it.”

You’re probably also fiddling with your hair, or if your a guy, your leg might be bouncing up and down.  Some people’s palms get sweaty.  Sometimes we blush.  Sometimes we just stop talking altogether because someone just stole the air from our lungs.  Maybe we want to run away.  But we’re happy.  We want to dig deeper.  Our gut tells us so.  These physical reactions are in fact our biological response to our gut telling us so.  This is the language of our gut when its talking about love, or at least interest.

We get a flurry of thoughts where our intuition, our instincts, our gut is just telling us it’s right.  For those of you who have found it, congratulations.  Hold on tight, because from what I’ve heard you’ve just finally reached the roller coaster and the ride is about to start.  For those who are still looking, don’t worry, I promise you, what will come will come.  OK, thats not that big of a promise, but I can say that if it is what you want, you are highly likely to find it.  Its just odds.  Half of the world is man and half of the world is woman.  You are beautiful, and you will find someone who agrees with me.  Your job is to be patient.

Stay hungry.  Follow your heart.  Listen to your intuitive mind.  Love will follow.