I’m fixated, which is different maybe from obsessing. The topic? Beliefs. I’m amazed that highly intelligent people, some of the best in their field, believe things that seem to me to be objectively absurd. But then my belief about reality is only a belief based on the information I choose to expose myself to.
To my ultra conservative friends with whom I have not yet alienated, When I try to bring up information that contradicts their opinion, instead of being curious, they discount it, usually calling it fake news. But when questioned about their sources, the “believe” that Fox and OAN are valid. I shake my head and wonder what it is like to be in their head, not that I want to go there for very long.
Other than current events, belief is critical to our perceptions. Where one person sees problems, barriers, and futility, others see challenge, opportunity, risk but potential reward. And then one can take it too far, of blind optimism, rose colored glasses. Who among us has bought lottery tickets. We know the likelihood of losing our hard earned cash is practically inevitable but we rationalize and hope.
Dr. Martin Seligman, the granddaddy of positive psychology says of the five elements of well-being, purpose and meaning is the most important. It worked for Viktor Frankl. Do you find that people that have some belief that they are born, live, and some say incarnated into human form, a spiritual being having a physical experience, have a greater sense of well-being? Are more prone to look for opportunities, accepting of what is and seek the silver lining? Seligman says they do. I know I do.
Remembering how I felt when I was agnostic, as a young adult. I rejected Catholicism at age 14, found religion again at 17, then rejected that in my early 20’s. (Trying to force myself to believe something that wasn’t more verifiable provided a cognitive dissonance that squelched any “peace that passes understanding.” I made a decision to do my own exploration, read, listen and learn, and ultimately found enough out there for me to believe in a higher power, that there is a reason things are the way they are, and that you life, my life, all of life has purpose. Don’t ask me to get too specific though.
As a result, you, we, become what we think about. Our beliefs are just thoughts that we keep thinking. Right or wrong, accurate or not, verifiable or not, to the point where we don’t need to be able to defend our beliefs. They suit our purpose. Joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.
I’m running out of steam here. My question and I WOULD LOVE SOME FEEDBACK. What are your thoughts on beliefs? Or better yet, what are your beliefs about beliefs? Have you consciously cultivated your beliefs or default to what you grew up with? Do you challenge your beliefs by exploring other ideas, visiting and participating with folks with alternative ideas? If too personal, text me.
Maybe we should have a zoom meeting on the topic.