Saturday, 13 April 2013

Challenge Your Dearly Held Beliefs

We are stubborn creatures.

Every day of my life I read or hear something I don't agree with.

That is the most normal thing, it is as it should be, it is all part of our process of discernment.

What we do next makes all the difference.

It's actually easier to defend our own opinions, to fight off attacks on them, to dismiss our critics, and to stand our ground, than it is to examine our position and double check whether it's "right" or not, bearing in mind what's right for one person is not necessarily right for another.

We are stubborn creatures, after all.

And sometimes we are certain. We are certain we are right, and we have considered it carefully, and we really do NOT wish to change our views.

Well, we may just be right:)

There is an idea that one must always keep an open mind. I agree, with the proviso that if it's too open, it can fall out.

Still, the objective for me is to remain aware, to consider, to judge fairly, and to be willing to change my opinion if I find it faulty.

I have had to change my opinion on the value of lecture. I could make the excuse that as I never experienced  a proper lecture when I was younger, I had no point of reference. I have always studied well from books, at my own pace, choosing my own readings, and retaining what I read. So, when people have told me they were taking a class in something or other, my reaction was "why not just read a book?"

OK, I GET IT. There really is a difference. One still needs to read the book, obviously, but when certain points are "presented" (assuming it is done well, obviously) there is an extra something, I can't quite put my finger on it, but it's different, it's better, and it works. And I love it.

Had you said this to me before I started my Coursera courses, I'd have said "I don't need to study that way. I study perfectly well just reading a book."

(We are stubborn creatures.)

And I would have been WRONG.

Apart from the value of lecture, it really helps knowing WHAT to read. Yes, being told to. Being forced, in fact, to read something that otherwise I would not have. And then going WOAH.

If you want to catch up on my studies, read this:

Otherwise we'll leave that just as an example, and move on.

It's OK to be wrong, and to change one's mind. It tends to happen less as we get older, because we have already considered some things many, many times. But it's actually important to keep considering we might be wrong.

I suppose I was already open-minded enough, that I did at least take the leap, rather than continuing to believe all I ever needed was access to books. So, maybe I was halfway there.

But this happens only because I decided (when?) that it was a good idea to question everything. Perhaps I was born that way. It's quite possible.

Somewhere along the way in our personal development we make various decisions to this effect. We decide to be open to new possibilities. Otherwise there is no personal development.

I suppose before that, we decide to decide....where does it begin?

Hopefully our families encourage it. If they don't we get lucky with teachers. Including those at school.

I'm not one to push ideas on others, but at some point we all need that first kick, and we probably need a lot of kicks afterwards. Gentle kicks are best, the whole thing of catching more flies with honey than vinegar. If we kick too hard we are met with defensiveness.

We are stubborn creatures.


  1. Every day is an opportunity to learn something from the perspective of someone else. You and I agree on much but have fundamental disagreements on other things. However, I never stop to consider your side, I may not come to the same conclusions but in the analysis, something is learned, none the less. I feel so sorry for those who can't stop to see, to consider and perhaps even alter an opinion.

    1. Pity is probably the best option. They are after all missing out on the sheer visceral thrill of an "AHA!" moment. Those are my drug of choice.

  2. Quite so. I've been guilty a few times of staying in a rut or refusing to challenge my opinion. Even a firmly-rooted tree must sway with the wind or break.

    1. Being wrong is OK. Staying wrong unnecessarily...not so much.

  3. "There is an idea that one must always keep an open mind. I agree, with the proviso that if it's too open, it can fall out."

    A highly-quotable message, my friend. May I share it as a status message and see what ensues? ;)

    A great couple of blogs, my friend, this one and the Challenges one. Maybe it is because I have taken the bother to read some Buddhist sutras andteachings over the years that purposely CHALLENGE one's way of thinking in just about every way possible. Once you have 'considered the possibilities' and turned a thought or idea around in your mind and looked at it from every angle, a person may understand that there are many things and ways to learn. Again, I am one who manages to find quite a bit more from personal discovery, and it is not an ego thing. It takes guts to look at something we may not want to see. The challenge is in finding out what 'good' might come out of something 'awful.'

    It may be one thing to know that the phrase "amount to a hill of beans" is from a famous line the movie, "Casablanca" as much as the parody from Police Squad (Quotes for Frank Drebin (Character) ... and maybe the problems of two people don't amount to a hill of beans. But this is our hill. And these are our beans!)--and that it can be a matter of choice as to which context we prefer. ;) ~ Blessings!

    Someone else once said, "My opinion doesn't amount for a hill of beans

    1. Quote away, with my blessing. You've inspired me today, I owe you:)