Some call it “trusting your gut”, others call it having “good instincts”, or a “sixth sense”. Whatever you may call it, listening to your intuition, can save you from facing so many avoidable obstacles in your life. It can also help you lead a more productive, happier, healthier lifestyle. Intuition is when we feel, understand, or conclude something without having rational evidence. From a psychological and scientific perspective, intuition is a psychological process based on past experiences and signals from our environment that go directly to our unconscious mind. This means that we are making decisions at an unconscious level and we don’t even notice it. Researchers also believe that the gut feeling that we experience is actually a combination of your gut bacteria communicating directly to your brain via chemical messengers in the blood, and the gut neurons' connection to the emotional and intuitive receptors in the brain. The trigger results in a flutter sensation in your gut area or just a deep feeling at your core. The same feelings are triggered from our hearts. When we “listen to our hearts'' it's actually the organ sending emotional signals, communicating your needs, fears, and desires, to the brain. The brain uses those signals to help us process how we feel and react.

Chances are, at one point or another, you've had an instinctive feeling. Maybe you had an unexplainable urge to take another driving route, or someone you just met gave you a bad vibe, or you had a sudden feeling about going to an event. Past experiences are all stored in our brains, and while we may not be actively thinking about them, our brain can access them when it needs to. It uses those past experiences and cues from our environment and our sense of self and all come together to give us those gut feelings we call intuition.

Your body and your brain can interpret your environment faster than you can, so when you get a "good" or "bad" feeling it simply means that there is some element of your environment that triggered that knowledge in the back part of your brain before you could piece it together yourself. We perceive those signals as positive or negative feelings in our bodies before being able to rationalize the information. When intuition strikes, people usually get an overall sensation of "knowing" but that knowing presents itself differently for everyone.

For some, it can be like a little voice in the back of our minds, for others it can be a feeling that something is off, that something needs closer attention, or something is drawing us in a particular direction. If you aren’t aware or intentional about listening to your intuition it can seem like a silly feeling that you just need to shake off. However, listening to this feeling or voice can tap into a powerful sense of self that helps us:

Feel more alert and aware in our environments

Feel more confident in our decisions

Feel more confident in ourselves

Feel more assertive to stand our ground

Feel more at peace in our day to day lives

Feel more stable in our mental and emotional health

Improve our overall health & wellness

Our intuition also allows you to make decisions in complex and unfamiliar situations quickly and effectively. If we know how to listen to our intuition during challenging times, we give ourselves and our communities a better chance at remaining healthy. In fact, there are several advantages to trusting your intuition.

Your intuition helps you find your purpose

Your life's purpose is so much more than just your career, your role in your family, or even how the world views you. It's so much greater than your struggles and your obstacles. Your purpose is the way you operate yourself in the world. It's the way you feel called to do certain types of work, collaborate with others, serve your community, and inspire those around you. It's an intuitive part that many of us work to tap into. Since our intuition is attuned to our subconscious, it can help you identify dreams that are aligned with your core values and your true sense of self.

You are open to new ideas and opportunities

Paying attention to how you feel will help you make better, smarter, and quicker decisions. People who rely on their intuition are more open to new ideas and trying new things. Whether it’s investing in learning a new skill, developing yourself personally or professionally, or tapping into new projects, the rational mind relies on logic which can sometimes be limiting. When you tap into your intuition, on the other hand, you can see things that your rational mind is oblivious to, allowing you to recognize new opportunities. We allow ourselves the confidence to put our "crazy ideas" into action, which requires a leap of faith into the unknown.

You are better at reading people

Trusting your intuition about someone is never wrong. Intuition helps you read people and their intentions allowing you to approach or reproach a situation. When you interact with others, you take in information about them. You look at their expressions and their tone of voice and their body language.

And when something doesn’t align between all these things, an alarm goes off within your brain and even within your heart. Listening to your intuition helps you avoid unhealthy relationships and situations. It also helps you distinguish when people are coming to you with positive or negative intentions. It’s sometimes hard to tell which category someone falls into, but if you put aside all of those external opinions and instead listen to the advice of your own intuition, it will guide you to what is truly best for you.

You can avoid bad situations

When we try to rationalize situations with just our heads or our emotions, it's easy to overlook or miss certain steps that can be bad for us in the long run. Our intuition also acts as a cautionary alarm. Intuition can tell you when something feels off, allowing you to steer clear of situations that would have otherwise had negative impacts on you or your situation.

Logic and intuition work together. You can't have one without the other if you want to lead a happy, purposeful life. Intuition helps us make the right decision, especially in situations where we don’t have all the relevant information or where we need to make a decision instantly. By learning how to harness and use our intuition, we can become better at making decisions, with successful outcomes in our personal as well as professional lives. The really great thing is that our intuition keeps growing and developing as we go through life. So learn to be attuned to that "sixth sense" feeling deep inside, you can find yourself learning more about who you are, your purpose, and opening new doors for your life.