Mastering the Non-Logical Arts
I remember the exact moment I became a scientist.
“Stand up, take out a quarter, and we’ll play a game.” I can still hear my Psychology 101 professor speaking.
“What are the chances that when you toss that quarter, it’ll be ‘heads’ 10 times in a row?” he asked, standing in front of 500 students in our cramped lecture hall.
Impossible, we agreed.
We flipped our quarters, and anyone whose coin landed “tails” up had to sit down.
After round one, half the class sat. Another round, and 100 more students took their seats.
When the final toss landed, not one, but three people saw “heads” 10 times in a row. Impossible!
“There’s nothing mystical about this,” Dr. Ennis said. “It’s only the law of probability.”
For the next two hours, he showed us that events that we see as supernatural are nothing but random coincidence.
I was converted. From that day, logic and the scientific method would be my guiding light.
I closed myself to knowledge that wasn’t peer reviewed. Alternative healing? A divine hand? Forget it.
I spent a decade having an answer to every question but knowing very little. I had an ironclad grasp on reality, so why was I unhappy most of the time?
Dr. Ennis’ lecture was a pivotal point in my system of belief; a conversation with my fiancé last year was another.
She and I were debating the afterlife, she taking a non-logical position that the scientist in me worked to debunk. As I argued, I realized that I didn’t believe a word I was saying. My true belief aligned with hers.
I’d been working to cultivate my intuition for years, but in that moment I saw clearly how my dogmatic fixation on pure rationality had cut me off from my happiness. I needed to double down on my journey into the non-logical arts—to start trusting my gut and to have faith in a force/energy/universe that is infinitely more intelligent than intellect.
I haven’t abdicated rationality; I’ve only balanced it with more “heart.” Logic and science have taken me and our society far forward, but not very far in the context of a mostly unknown universe. I’ve decided to embrace what works, even if there is no logical explanation.
Enter the Non-Logical Arts
Malcolm Gladwell opened his brilliant book, Blink, with a fascinating illustration. The J. Paul Getty Museum was about to acquire a rare and expensive Greek sculpture. But when experts checked its authenticity, each had to look at it only for a moment to declare it a fake.
The experts didn’t need forensic investigation to arrive at the truth; they just knew it in their gut. How? Our subconscious is vastly underrated, and though scientists have only begun to understand it, they agree that it’s powerful.
I’m about to show you the entrance to a vast well of knowledge, but we won’t have time to fully explore its depths today. Here’s the door and some maps to help you travel further, if you choose to.
“I believe in intuitions and inspirations … I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am.” —Albert Einstein
“Get in your head, you’re dead.” —Tony Robbins
Intuition is our inborn skill of using unconscious emotions to make decisions. Neuroscientists know that most of our decisions are made unconsciously, despite complex mental gymnastics to rationalize our decisions after we act.
Feel a nagging fear, anxiety or that something is off? Your intuition is speaking.
Intuition used poorly can make us send that scathing email or eat the third piece of cheesecake, but overall it wants us to be happy, and with practice, we can use it to compliment our logic and make better decisions faster.
Researchers can now measure intuition scientifically, and they’ve shown what masters of intuition have known for a long while: that it can be improved with practice.
Steve Jobs called intuition “more powerful than intellect.” Albert Einstein called it “the only real valuable thing.” Why not develop yours?
How to Develop Intuition
- The HeartMath Technique: This practice will put you in a state of coherence, where body, brain and emotions align and work better together, strengthening your intuition. It’s easy:
- Place your hands over your heart and focus your attention on that area. Imagine your breath flowing in and out of your heart. Breathe slow and deep.
- Call up a positive feeling like gratitude or love.
After as little as 60 seconds, you’ll be able to access more of your intuition and creativity.
- Quiet your logical mind: You can do this through meditation, daydreaming in the shower, driving alone or listening to music. When you give your higher brain a rest, you can hear messages from your unconscious. Pay special attention to your dreams—your intuition will send you messages while you sleep.
Who’s Mastered Intuition?
- Tony Robbins: He teaches a version of the HeartMath Technique that he calls Heart Breathing. He explains that, when we align our heart (intuition) and mind (logic) we make better decisions and find new solutions to problems.
- Steve Jobs: “I began to realize that an intuitive understanding … was more important than abstract thinking and intellectual logical analysis,” he told his biographer. Jobs was known not for being a number-crunching analysis machine, but rather an intuitive, if temperamental, leader. Through his unorthodox leadership, Apple’s valuation is now hovering around $1 trillion.
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” —George Bernard Shaw
“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” —Elon Musk
Faith is often lumped in with organized religion, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s simply a choice to adopt a mental state that says, “I am absolutely certain of this outcome,” even when the odds look grim. Faith is Winston Churchill declaring, “We will never surrender.” It’s you stating, “My business will succeed,” and never doubting that truth.
Tony Robbins calls faith “certainty,” and he teaches that it is “created within you, and not in your environment.” You can choose right now to fix on and achieve your goal without waiting for external conditions to align.
Develop unshakeable certainty and you can do anything.
How to Develop Faith
- Visualization: Each morning, practice developing a vivid, detailed vision for your life. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and imagine every detail as if it’s reality: the view from the house you live in, the way your body looks, the dollar amount in your bank account. Feel intense gratitude because these things are already on their way into your life.
- Mantras: Repeat phrases of the outcomes you desire. “Money comes to me freely and easily,” or, “I choose to live in a beautiful state.” Just make sure you do it with feeling—getting emotional about what you want is the fastest way to reprogram your brain. Do these in those otherwise idle moments: while driving, walking or doing the dishes.
These two practices will tell the Reticular Activating System (RAS) in your brain to be on the lookout for opportunities to manifest your desires.
- Surrender: Let go of controlling your entire life and you’ll find that the universe has a way of delivering—not always what you want, but what you need, and usually something better than you hoped for. When I loosened my grip on So You Want to Write?, revenue started to flow.
Who’s Mastered Faith?
- Elon Musk: The man took on not one but two impossible challenges and is winning. With Tesla, he will virtually eliminate vehicles as a source of climate change. With SpaceX, he’s lowered the cost to send a payload into space by 86% and is on track to put humans on Mars by 2024. You don’t set out on missions like these without faith.
- Jen Sincero: At 40, she was broke and living in a converted garage. But Jen decided to change her mindset and become certain that she would be rich. That included borrowing $85,000 to invest in a business coach when she couldn’t afford a movie ticket. She’s now a multiple best-selling author and coach. When you have an unshakeable belief in the outcome you have set for yourself, you’ll keep you motivation high and demolish any obstacle.
3. Serendipity & Synchronicity
Serendipity encompasses those happy accidents that produce favorable outcomes, like when you find $20 in your jeans pocket. Synchronicity is a close cousin, and refers to coincidences that seem to be related: You’re talking about a friend, and they call you at that exact moment. These are not just things that happen to you; I’ve observed that these are events that can be invited into your life through practice.
For a long while, I tried to explain away these forces as meaningless coincidences, but life continues to show me that there is an order to the universe that can’t be explained rationally.
How to Develop Serendipity & Synchronicity
- Follow your signs: Last month, a dragonfly crash-landed on the patio beside me. At that exact moment, I was writing about Gabrielle Bernstein, who in her book, The Universe Has Your Back, uses the dragonfly as a sign that helped her make a decision. Old me would have laughed this off, but in that moment, I honored the sign and immediately put on her audiobook. In the first chapter, I found a key piece of information that I needed to solve a problem I was working on. Was this the universe speaking? Was it my powerful subconscious remembering where to find a solution? Or was it a completely random coincidence? I’ve decided that the answer is unimportant. Signs deliver messages, even if I don’t fully understand how or why.
Serendipity and synchronicity have brought an abundance of good fortune into my life, and I’ve learned that the more I listen to and trust these messengers, the more they show up in my life. Sure, it sounds crazy, but you’ve got nothing to lose by trying it for 30 days.
Who’s Mastered Serendipity & Synchronicity?
- Gabrielle Bernstein: She’s written six books that argue that if you simply let go and surrender to the universe’s will, it will send you all the love, joy and abundance you need. All you have to do is listen for the signs.
- Michael Singer: As a ponytailed, Birkenstock-wearing hippie in 1970s Alachua, Florida, all Michael wanted to do was meditate in the woods. In this spiritual quest, he made a radical decision: to let go of personal desires and follow any signs that life sent him. This act of faith created massive serendipity and led him to extreme heights of success. By honoring life’s flow, he creating a thriving spiritual community, launched construction and software companies, and became the CEO of a billion dollar company, WebMD. His best-selling book, The Surrender Experiment, is a powerful endorsement of these twin non-logical arts.
When we put rationality on a pedestal, the results aren’t great: rising global temperatures and mass extinctions to increase the GDP a quarter point; damaging our relationships because we’re right and they’re wrong; working 60 hours a week to “build a better life” and ending our time on this planet realizing we never truly lived.
Logic is one of humanity’s greatest assets, but we function better when we also lean on the non-logical gifts we’ve been given. Have faith, and you’ll see.
Photo by Marinka_kartinka/Shutterstock.com
Michael Pietrzak is a mindset and habits coach to entrepreneurs. He founded So You Want to Write? Inc., which helps writers improve and get published. Michael is passionate about weightlifting, great books and playing guitar.
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