“Having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgement of others.” ~ Benjamin Franklin, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin …
My stubbornness has been perhaps one of the most annoying–and difficult–of my bad habits to break. There are so many instances that I can think back on, when I held on to my opinions and beliefs even after they had been proven wrong. The problem, I have found out, is twofold: one being that I often place part of my value and worth in my beliefs, thinking that if others disprove me, or if I am wrong, that I am somehow a lesser man. The second issue is that I then abandon reason and logic, which perhaps would have brought about necessary growth and change in my life.
Unfortunately, this type of foolish stubbornness happens a lot in key areas of our world today–politics and government, education and research, athletic competition, and even relationships. In fact, many of the relationship issues that arise in marriages today are never resolved due to the couples’ inability to remain open to “fuller consideration,” or “being obliged by better information.” Instead, many individuals stubbornly choose to hold on to their own narrow beliefs, opinions, and judgments of others, which is entirely unfair and disrespectful. It is also quite frustrating, to say the least, to have to spend time around anyone who acts in such a way.
There is a story about an old man who found that a tool of his went missing. He suspected a neighbor boy, and the next time he saw him, the boy walked like a thief, talked like a thief, and acted like a thief. The following day, however, after the old man found the tool somewhere that he had left it himself, the boy happened by once again, but this time walked, talked, and acted just like a boy.
If we wish to be treated fairly and respectfully, then we must extend that same courtesy to those around us. It all begins by changing ourselves. Of course, it helps tremendously to always keep an open-mind to the ideas and beliefs of others, as our own understanding is only an opinion and is not always accurate or complete. Embracing such a healthy habit helps us to foster respect for one another and keeps the channels of positive growth and change open in our life.
Listen to the ideas and opinions of those around you with receptiveness.
Questions to consider:
How often do you change your mind? How easy is it for you to do so?
How often do you take the time to reconsider some of your most important and deeply held beliefs? How open are you to allowing those deeply-rooted beliefs the chance to grow and change in lieu of understanding, intellectual knowledge, and wisdom of the heart?
How does holding on to outdated or inaccurate beliefs and opinions prevent us from living our lives purposefully? How can it hold us back from affecting others with meaningful change?
For further thought:
“If in the last few years you haven’t discarded a major opinion or acquired a new one, check your pulse. You may be dead.” ~ Frank Gelett Burgess