Follow Your Gut

I am quite a fan of wisdom - and especially short wisdom principles that don't require much bandwidth.

One such piece of wisdom is the phrase "Follow your gut". Why is this a good principle?

In the "developed world" we are often very stressed and depressed, and most of these demons actually arise from our own thoughts in our heads. They are somehow localised in our brains. But we are not just our brains. Don't we have more going on than just our brains? Maybe the reason that the "global society" is so preoccupied with brains and neuroscience etc. is because we are a society of overthinkers.

Let us take a simple famous philosophical quote - "I think therefore I am". That is a pretty good sum up of our culture. It seems pretty rational. But then what about something that is but doesn't have a brain. Take a cactus for example. Does a cactus have existential despair? Does it have a brain? Does it exist? Let us examine...

I have no idea if a cactus has existential despair or not. But I know it doesn't have a brain like ours. Does it think? Maybe. Does it exist? Definitely. So all we had to do to was to imagine a cactus and we are already shattering one of the foundations of our civilisation. For the cactus the philosophical quote reads: "I may think without a brain, therefore I am".

How does all of this chit chat relate to following your guts? Well - to recognise that we have different types of thinking - or that we are not just isolated in our brains is quite liberating - and has a couple of things which resonate with ancient culture and also modern science. Let's start with modern science.

Modern science now recognises that the guts are really important in terms of health, both physical and mental. It's now cool again to eat rotten food. It is well recognised that diversity is a good thing - and the same can be said for your guts which are like a kind of microcosm.

Your guts are really sensitive - and they can tell you things - but you need to pay attention to them. It is not linguistic data that your gut passes to you - it is a more primal feeling that is quite understandable but hard to explain. Your guts have a kind of wisdom and intelligence then. Perhaps the biodiversity of your gut bacteria have a kind of collective consciousness?

In terms of ancient culture - I remember hearing that the Aborigines of Australia believe in we humans having three brains. One in the gut, one in the heart, and one in the brain. What is also interesting is that the gut is considered the most wise and intelligent, followed by the heart, followed by the brain. That seems quite the opposite to what most people in the "global society" would believe.

By the way - I say "global society" to refer to the current interconnected society that a huge portion of the world lives in. "The West" or "The developed world" are so 20th century. The reason I use the phrase "global society" is because nations don't really seem to be as different as they used to be - and everywhere seems to operate in pretty similar ways - everyone does pretty much the same. For example everyone wears jeans and uses facebook and the gregorian calendar. Those are just three examples off the top of my head, there are many more. However - there is a great variety of human experience when you look outside just simple national differences - for example there are societies which don't even have a concept of number or time or have experienced wearing jeans.

Anyway back to guts. The Aboriginals (and perhaps many other groups) probably believe that the brain brain is mostly a waste of time - especially if you consider the misuse of it which is literally killing people from stress. A classic way in which people misuse their brain brains is in deciding what to eat. You shouldn't have to decide when or what to eat. Your gut just knows. But we get into all sorts of knots when we try to figure out exactly what we should eat - and people get into all sorts of trouble over food. Do animals have these same problems? I do not know.

So anyway - probably a bit of a verbose explanation about why you should follow your gut. It is your primal aspect which has millions of years of earth wisdom behind it. It knows more than your brain which is like a little kiddy in comparison. I guess we kind of started out as just guts evolutionarily. Worms are kind of just like guts right? The brain evolves later.