Hunches and instinct are quite often dismissed by people as not important. If you are an emotional sort of person, and you believe in hunches and instincts, do you find, as I often do, that more left-brain types look down their noses at you, believing you to be in thrall to your emotions and over-reactionary? If you are more considered, do you become uncomfortable by feeling things that don’t fall into measurable compartments? Like most people, I am a mixture of both, and on occasion have decided to ignore that feeling that something isn’t quite as it should be, usually to my detriment!
One of the books I’m reading at the moment is ‘Blink‘ by Malcolm Gladwell (he of the famous Tipping Point). The basic premise of the book is about how we make quality snap decisions about things and learning when and how to trust these feelings. Most of us have this ability although it can sometimes be wrong, but it can more often than not be right. The reason I’m writing about it in this blog is that it follows on really nicely from a previous post about spotting patterns.
You may recall that I was wondering about how mathematicians, scientists, doctors and musicians also can make good weavers, and that my observation is that those kinds of minds are good at spotting patterns. Well, in the first main chapter of Blink, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the “critical part of rapid cognition known as ‘thin-slicing’.” He goes on to explain that “thin-slicing refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behaviour based on very narrow slices of experience.” It is fascinating reading, and if you are interested in why we can make effective snap decisions, it is a worth while book to read!
For me, one of those instant cognition moments came several years ago, during a walk with my previous dog, Kym. It was winter (have I already told you this story? Apologies if I have, but it’s worth repeating!) The trees were bare and stark against the winter sky, and I looked up at the silhouette of a hawthorn tree and thought to myself – “that’s a fractal“.
Then I did a kind of mental double-take. I know I stopped walking and stared up at the tree, whilst my mind was frantically running around in speed-time, thinking things like “where did that word come from?” “What on earth’s a fractal?” “How do I know this?” “Where should I go to find out about fractals?” “Is this a proper word?” I also know that I asked the dog what on earth a fractal is?
We’ve probably also all had those moments of suspicion, when somone doesn’t seem to be acting quite right, only to find out later that they just went on to committ a crime or hurt themselves. There may not be anything obvious either in their behaviour or their demeanour, but we are aware of something slightly off – something not quite fitting the pattern. Also, there have been those moments when you feel that you shouldn’t do something just yet, and later you find out that you avoided a tragedy. That feels like it’s crossing into spiritual realms, but it could be because your subconscious spotted something out of kilter and warned you off…
I’ve only read the first main chapter so far, but the book has me hooked! It has an easy reading style and is full of real-life examples that get you thinking! The subtitle of Blink is ‘The Power of Thinking Without Thinking’. If you have a curiousity about things, you’ll love this book!