I love intuition, though I have many problems with the meaning of that word. Being a fanboy of Jungian Functions (on which I will write some day) I have a somewhat strange idea of it, making it a mix of creativity, imagination, abstract thought and hunches.
And that’s what I will write about today.
First, they come out of nothing, aka the unconscious. Our brain is working all the time, though we can’t pay attention to it. So it just gives the answer without showing the steps.
It goes on three phases:
First, you work on the problem. You brain can’t make bricks with no clay, and it can’t solve a problem without a problem and without background information.
Then, there’s incubation. You get tired and do other stuff. You take a shower, you walk, you read… Do NOT watch telly, it doesn’t help. Meanwhile, your problem is submitted to the little slaves on your unconscious, who do the work for you without getting any pay.
And, finally, BAM, the problem is solved and the answer pops up. Or maybe it doesn’t, but the next time you try to tackle the problem you feel as if it were incredibly easy. That’s the inspiration.
I’ll give a few examples taken from my life, which show different ways this can happen.
First, I was doing a work in primes. I spent an hour or so, and got tired, and went to do other stuff. When I came back, it was as if my pen write on his own, and I had at least five different ways to solve it.
For the record, none of them worked on the main problem (It has been unsolved for four hundred years, give me a break, you people!) but I did discover a lot of interesting stuff on my way.
I spent a whole day playing chess. It got me addicted, and I had many competitions with friends, so I needed practice. I went to sleep. I woke up confused in the middle of the night, and looked at my chessboard, which was still on the floor. And suddenly I thought “Hey, the knight can move as an L of two and one squares in one move, as an L of three times one in two moves, and as an L of four and one squares in three moves” I was tired, so I noted it and went back to sleep. Next morning, I checked, and it was correct indeed.
Finally, I was discussing science with my father. He said he couldn’t understand relativity, and showed me a contradiction he found. I was baffled. It looked as a contradiction at the chore of relativity! And in the most simple part! I couldn’t believe it, and I spent 10 minutes thinking it through. Then I had to leave, so I shifted my focus to other stuff. But as I was walking, I had it. I didn’t have the answer, but I managed to get out of the box, and it was obvious that the answer was right there. And I found it.
As you can see, it works on many ways, but they’re fundamentally the same. So, to sum up:
-Your brain works on his own
-It can help you to solve problems
-But you need to try first, and try hard
-Intuition is like happiness: if you’re looking for it, it won’t come.