Choose Better Beliefs, Live a Better Life
So what’s in a belief? Why are beliefs so important? And, how can we choose beliefs that support our vision for the future?
We’ve all heard stories of people willing to die for their beliefs, and in some cases, kill for them. There are men who sacrificed their life for a cause most of us believe to be great; men like Dr. Martin Luther King. Then there are those whose beliefs we abhor but whose beliefs were also strong enough to die and kill for, like the 9/11 suicide bombers. In both examples, and in endless other examples, one thing is still true – these are all people, only people. Human beings who bleed red.
So how, then, do these people, us people, differ so greatly, one to another? How is it most of us could hardly imagine dying for our beliefs, much less believing something so intensely that we would create a life that actively moves us toward that end with all likelihood. For most of us, our beliefs are designed to protect us and keep us out of harm’s way. But either way, what’s clear is the power inherent in a belief. Beliefs are the ultimate driving forces of our life. They’re what make us who we are, and they’re what shape the life we create for ourselves. Our beliefs about religion, about the world, about ourselves and on how we fit into the world around us, are all foundational beliefs that shape the type of people we are and determine how we operate in this world. If we change our fundamental beliefs, we also change ourselves.
Of course, not all beliefs are created equal. Believing Lebron James is a better basketball player than Michael Jordan isn’t going to influence our behavior in any considerable way. On the other hand, having a belief that no matter how hard we try things just never seem to work out for us, can be devastating to our life and the potential for our future.
So how do we choose beliefs that empower, instead of handcuff us?
The first thing is to realize that our beliefs are changing all the time with and without our permission. We meet a new person and think, ‘hey, they seem quite nice.’ Then we get more information and change our mind, our belief about them. We’re confronted with an obstacle and think it’s the worst thing in the world, then we overcome it and realize it was the best thing that could’ve happened to us, as we got to bear witness to our own resilient spirit while becoming even stronger in the process. These are shifting beliefs. Shifting beliefs as a result of time, information, and circumstance. Our beliefs are not set in stone, but often, until the moment they change, they feel as though they are. One minute, we’re deeply in love and thinking, how could I ever love another? The next minute we wonder, how did I ever love that person? It’s the malleable nature of our mind at work.
The power we have in all this comes with our own acknowledgment of choice and our decision to choose. Our choice is to accept, reject or change our ideas and beliefs, and our decision is to choose to accept into our consciousness only those beliefs that empower us and enhance our ability to create that which we desire and hope for. To make these changes, we must be willing to confront and question our beliefs as they make themselves known to us. We must also seek new information, adding to our breadth of understanding and empowering us to choose more wisely.
In the end, this journey can lead us down many roads. We may confirm our beliefs, allowing us to hold them with even more conviction. We may dismiss those beliefs outright, choosing new ones entirely. Or, we may end up somewhere in the middle – beliefs adjusted but intact. However it shakes out, taking responsibility for our beliefs and a constant willingness to challenge those ideas we hold dear will help to ensure that the beliefs we maintain are the ones that keep us healthier, happier, more productive in our life.