When you look at the world from an objective point of view, it is trivial to see that most of what you believe is in all likelihood wrong. To truly appreciate the world for what it is, you need to look at it carefully. You need to realize that you were born in a particular time and place, inside a specific culture, with its own limitations and sets of beliefs. These beliefs are derived from a complicated history, whereby people, random events, non-random events all collectively merged together to form the world that you live in right now.
If the thought about you being completely and utterly wrong about your most cherished beliefs does not really change the way you behave, then I don’t think you quite grasp the severity of the situation. It’s not about me and my thoughts or my opinion. I don’t particularly care for my own opinion. Indeed, I don’t care about anyones opinion. Opinions are just words that people like to say in order to feel significant.
Facts are what really matter. Those are the words that appear to describe the world as it ‘really’ is. What I mean by all this might be clarified by observing the world around you, and then applying that information to yourself. Notice how you differ from other people.
For example, if you happen to be a young jewish girl, living in New York city, in an upper-middle class family, then your world is vastly different than a muslim mother of two, living in Jeddah with her husband.
What you believe to be right and wrong will in likelihood be completely different. Your beliefs about money, love, religion, politics and sex could be at opposite ends. Other topics might be surprisingly similar. Like you both adore your family, and believe that mustard is the most disgusting thing ever created. You might have the same taste when it comes to fashion as you would both stare in awe at a particular red dress in a magazine.
How can you know which world is the better one to live in? Maybe they are both wrong, and there is a third alternative. There are an innumerable number of ways to live and you have to decide which way is the best one for you.
The questions to ask yourself is: Why am I the way I am? Do I really behave and think the way I do because it’s the way I naturally am? To what extent have I been conditioned to think in this specific way?
These questions are hard to answer because they relate to your very being. They form a mirror that shows you how arbitrary your understanding of yourself and the world is. Analyzing ourselves objectively is very difficult because we might find out that we’re not this special little snowflake that we think we are. But it’s very important.
If you want to know the truth. The real, no-bullshit, no-excuses, plain truth about yourself and (by extension) the world. Then take a moment. Sit down. And start from scratch. Take something you hold dear, like your belief about how good you are as a person, and look at the facts. Are you a good person? How do you know? Or better yet, can you find reasons that you’re not a good person? Maybe when push comes to shove, you are a bit too selfish? Could it be that you care more about your own convenience then someone else’s happiness?
OK, how about your belief about religion? Or the opposite sex? Maybe your culture has brainwashed you to completely misunderstand those areas of your life. You can’t judge yourself by asking your friends and family. You can’t expect those that you normally engage with to give you a balanced perspective. They form part of your individual bubble. Hence, you need to go outside your bubble and seek those that believe something completely different. Listen to them from a neutral point of view and then see if what they say makes sense from your direct experience.
This journey of trying to find out who you are and what life is really about is not for those that want to be comfortable. It’s not for the lazy. It’s not going to be given to you on a plate. What you’re essentially trying to do is sculpt yourself in such a way that you transform who you are and become someone different. Because unless you’ve reached perfection, then you’ve got to work on yourself. You need to read a lot and digest information from a lot of different sources. You need to improve your critical thinking skills. Right now, you have to accept the fact that you’re very uninformed about almost everything.
You need to look at your own opinion and think of it as a boring, probably unsupported assumption about a complex world that you don’t understand. Don’t be attached to your sense of ego. Be a kid. Be a student who just asks questions and works hard to understand the answers given.
That way, when you do start to build a picture of the world that is more accurate, when you start to transform your understanding of yourself and the world, you’ll find that life becomes this amazing, wonderful puzzle. You might not solve it, but simply trying to gives you pleasure. You won’t carry around an ego about being right or wrong. You’ll just accept the facts. In some way, you’ll be a more humble and authentic person.
You will know that you’re still almost always wrong, but this time, you accept the fact that there is nothing wrong with being wrong.