How to Improve Your Gut Instincts Book sense and common sense are two totally different things. You need both.

By Michael Mamas

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It is remarkable to witness how undeveloped our ability to feel has become. For a time, I trained chiropractors to feel what is underneath their hand. I would give them a ball and ask them if it was hollow or solid. If hollow, I'd ask how thick the wall was. From there, I'd have them set their hand on a fellow student's body and ask what the tone of the body felt like. Were the muscles tense or relaxed? If tense, what was the nature of the tension? Was it like a shield? If so, how thick was the shield and what was beneath it? Or perhaps the tension was like a twist or strand of fibers wrapping or pointing in the direction of another part of the body. If so, I asked them to follow that and get a feeling for the landscape of tensions throughout the body.

At first, nobody could feel anything. I've come to realize that this isn't just true of actual physical touching, but also for the intuitive felt sense -- common sense -- in life. Common sense is becoming increasingly rare, and without it, we can justify essentially anything through intellect. And sadly, people do.

Related: Rewiring Your Brain to Become a Better Leader

In the field of investments, we can generate limitless charts and formulas. But the wise investor knows how to balance one variable against the other through an inner feeling, or common sense, intuition. The way to cultivate that ability is to learn to feel things in our hands and in our hearts. The ability to do that in any field bleeds over into all other fields.

Knowledge and expertise are usually thought of as something we acquire from the outside through education, experience or other forms of learning. But real knowledge is an inner experience -- accessing real knowledge that dwells within you. It's your gut. Some might say that inner knowledge is just a feeling that you develop for something over time. It's viewed as almost incidental to gaining knowledge through conventional learning. But by keeping our attention on conventional learning, our intuitive abilities -- or inner knowing -- tend to fall behind.

Inner knowing is something that can be cultivated through a proper approach. It's the development of the ability to think with your gut -- to feel what is right in front of your face. Sadly, this has become inaccessible to most.

Related: Study the Data But Then Trust Your Gut

We do well to start asking ourselves how we feel about a particular situation or opportunity. We then need to identify the nature of those feelings. For most, the predominant feeling, initially, is fear to trust your feelings. Don't deny that. Acknowledge it, but move forward anyway. It's good to talk about it with other people, whether they're experts in the field or not. This helps you to reflect on the matter. Sometimes another's foolish perspective can be the most helpful because you can quickly feel how wrong they are.

Feelings are honed over time. What's important is that we don't deny, suppress or ignore what we feel. Instead, we identify and name those feelings, as well as nurture our ability to discern those feelings.

Really good business people are all about feeling. Think of how Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs functioned. Great business people have a great deal of knowledge about the facts, but they know that how they feel about those facts is what makes all the difference. Through the years, they've honed their ability to feel. They are not afraid to trust what they feel. They can tell if a feeling they're having is an emotional bias, a distortion or something that makes sense to them deep inside their being. In short, they develop common sense, and they don't hesitate to rely upon it.

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Before humanity was so dependent upon the scientific approach, intuition was relied upon and therefore developed more fully. Today, the objective approach is what many believe in and depend upon. But in the future, the intuitive aspect of knowledge will likely be more fully recognized and developed. Integrating the two is extremely powerful. We can then have our feelings, but substantiate them with facts. As the informational approach develops further and further, the intuitive aspect is given more and more stable ground to stand upon. One must not be discarded in the name of the other. It is a matter of balance and integration. To accomplish that, our attention must be placed upon both intuition and facts.

Michael Mamas

Founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality

Dr. Michael Mamas is the founder of The Center of Rational Spirituality, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the betterment of humanity through the integration of ancient spiritual wisdom with modern rational thought. From personal issues to global trends, Mamas helps individuals and organizations develop a deeper understanding and more comprehensive outlook by providing a "bridge" between the abstract and concrete, the eastern and western, and the ancient and modern. Mamas has been teaching for 35 years and writes on a variety of subjects on his blog, MichaelMamas.net.

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