8 Ways to Build Your Problem-Solving Intuition

8 Ways to Build Your Problem-Solving Intuition

Here are eight ways to build your natural ability to use intuition.


You’ve heard the terms mother’s intuition, gut instinct, and women’s intuition. For eons, intuition was viewed as mumbo-jumbo—something that some people gave credit to, but that scientists didn’t take very seriously. In recent years, intuition has been the subject of serious study, and it turns out it’s a valid phenomenon. Intuition means “using unconscious information in our body or brain to help guide us through life, to enable better decisions, faster decisions, and be more confident in the decisions we make,” wrote scientist Joel Pearson, the author of a research paper published in the journal Psychological Science that affirmed intuition was real and measurable. Want to tap into intuition to solve your own problems? For this week’s Healthy Habits, here are eight ways to build your natural ability to use intuition.

  1. Set time limits. Intuition is strongest when swift decisions are called for. Don’t dilly dally... just do.
  2. Practice body awareness. Internal clues from our bodies—such as an increased heart rate or sweaty palms—are more likely to be noticed by people who regularly practice meditation, yoga or other mindful activities.
  3. Sleep on it. Incubate solutions while your brain is most creative: When you’re asleep. Paul McCartney wrote “Yesterday” in his sleep. Albert Einstein came up with his theory of relativity during a dream. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote one of the most famous poems in the English language, “Kubla Khan,” after a weird night’s sleep. Who knows what you’ll come up with?
  4. Try martial arts. In some forms of martial arts, there’s a belief that practitioners can become aware of a field of energy that surrounds them, which can be sensitive and receptive of the extension of other people’s energies.
  5. Focus 15 minutes a day. Breathe in and out and be with yourself for quiet time each day. See what thoughts come to you. Unlike meditation, the goal is not to quiet your mind, but to ask questions, seek answers, and reflect.
  6. Practice by playing with hunches. See how much you can guess about a new person before you find out much about them. Guess at outcomes, such as when you’re at the movies and can try to predict the ending in detail.
  7. Consult tarot cards. They can give you a fresh perspective. (Yes, there’s an app for that, too, or a free way to learn standard cards here.)
  8. Wander. Take a walk, bike ride or drive with no set destination and see where you wind up. Explore the spot and discover what unfolds.

How do you use your intuition? Tell us below in the comments section.

Kathryn Drury Wagner is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. Her latest book is Hawaii’s Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!, a science and natural history “gross out” for young readers.

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