Monday, July 23, 2018

Examining our assumptions

I've been thinking a lot these past weeks about assumptions and how poorly most of them serve us. We treat many of them as facts ("I could never do X") when they're not necessarily true; we treat them as beliefs ("People always X") when thinking that doesn't promote peace or happiness in our life; we treat them as real when all they are are thoughts. And just like that clever saying, "Don't believe everything you think," most of us are better served by examining our assumptions for what they are rather than assuming our assumptions are valid, the ultimate vicious circle.

What I'm most interested in is making assumptions that promote possibility and peace of mind. From "I have to choose between X and Y," I want to be assuming "I'm sure there's a way to work out both X and Y and I'd like to find it." From "They done me wrong" to "I'm happier if I don't live in resentment." Because our culture is so focused on bad news and what goes wrong, it's revolutionary to shift our attention to what's possible, to live in wonder and curiosity instead of cynicism and resignation.

A wise man I know suggested that the best way to judge an assumption's value is if it elevates your mood, if you feel happier and calmer assuming whatever it is. I like that idea.

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