How are our beliefs formed?
Throughout the course of our lives we gather many beliefs. Beliefs are assumed truths and as we can all attest to, an assumed truth is an absolute truth in our minds. How do we truly know that something we believe to be true is actually true?
Our beliefs are created to solidify our understanding of the world? Once we form these beliefs we stick by them, mostly because, to question them would be to question All that we believe in. In some cases, if we believe in something, there’s usually an opposing view that we must not believe. However, if I don’t believe in something because I’ve done my homework and made an informed decision to believe that it isn’t true, only then have I owned that belief. Our beliefs heavily influence our lives and if we don’t consciously decide what we want to believe or not believe, then how much control do we really have over our own lives?
The truths that are handed to us early on are someone else’s truth before it becomes yours. I look back on some of the truths that I’ve inherited and gaining a deeper understanding of how ill-equipped I was to navigate life. I was trapped in a bubble of somebody else’s understanding and didn’t know it. I felt the frustration, pain and loneliness associated with the journey of self-discovery, but simply couldn’t wrap my head around it.Everything had to be in accordance with those beliefs that I hadn’t taken the time to examine.
Even after discovering that some of my beliefs were questionable and needed scrutinizing. I still didn’t have the will to carry it out. That was when I began to accept the power of belief.
My struggles with simple beliefs, that I felt were insignificant, emphasized the fact that changing beliefs is not easy business.I hadn’t acknowledged the fact that I had a choice in the matter. My thinking was simple, I believed what I believed.This is not to say that beliefs passed on to us aren’t solid, it just means that we should seek to discover why we believe what we believe. This is how we own a belief; through investigation, introspection and action.
The following is an excerpt from 2knowmyself.com by M.Farouk Radwan, MSc. “Beliefs and the Belief System”
The beliefs you hold about life, yourself and people is what’s responsible for who you are, how you behave and who you will become.
Throughout my articles I have been talking about false beliefs and how they limit the human potential by preventing a person from achieving what he can already achieve.
Positive beliefs on the other hand can help you trust your abilities, achieve your dreams and reach the success you ever wanted to achieve.
Because of the extreme importance of beliefs and the significant impact they have on our lives it makes a lot of sense to learn how beliefs are formed so that you can prevent false ones from being formed and support the formation of positive ones.
Many of our beliefs came into our lives before we were able to decide if they are right for us or beneficial to us….
Beliefs promoted by culture / status quo:
Rugged American Individual
Land of opportunity
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps
If you are not wildly successful, you’re a failure
Male role / Female role beliefs
Political party beliefs
How many of your beliefs, that are associated with the list above, have you questioned?
“Endless possibilities exist just beyond your belief system” -Inspirational Quote Club
Beliefs have the ability to empower you, or limit you, and most people have a few limiting beliefs that slow down, or even stop, their success.The stronger your beliefs are, the more firm they seem, and the more you will find evidence to support them.What most people don’t realize is that our beliefs about the world are only true because we’ve decided they are, though we may not have done so consciously.
Limiting beliefs are often based in our our self-identity, but may also be about other people and the environment. We sometimes don’t even recognize we are holding on to self-limiting beliefs. As a result, these beliefs control our lives and keep us stuck in cycles of defeat, frustration, and mediocrity.
Often fear can be a major contributing factor to the inability or unwillingness to consciously acknowledge limiting beliefs.. If you believe that you are not very smart, this belief may be hard to get rid of. Why? As with any long held belief , it weakens everything that the belief is associated with to some degree. It also uncovers things that you hadn’t noticed that force even deeper questioning.
Most beliefs are so difficult to change because we identify with them. We’ve accepted them as a part of who we are. And because we identify with them, we allow ourselves to be defined by them. If you think you’re weak, you’ll see yourself as someone who just doesn’t possess strength. It’s easy to get caught up in allowing our beliefs to define us, but they don’t have to. So the first step is to stop identifying with or defining yourself based on what you believe.
One of my own Limiting beliefs: The idea of manhood, what I was taught about being a man, message was not to show any real emotions outside of anger and a degree of contentment, men neither get too excited or too down. This hindered me in many ways as I navigated life and struggled with effectively handling my emotions. These usually come from lessons past on to us during childhood or experiences during that period of our lives.
General limiting beliefs in society about people who have been convicted of felonies:
They all come out the same.
Why should I care? They got what they deserve.
General beliefs that are often limiting for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people:
Jobs ( I can’t find a decent job with my record)
Relationships (They should be glad I’m home, why are they hassling me?)
I can’t do anything else ( This is all I know)
Geographic location (I’m from the wrong side of the tracks, I’m from the hood)
I have this genetic predisposition to addiction
What are limiting beliefs?
This informative portion of the page was found on the Changing Minds.org website:
Limiting beliefs are those which constrain us in some way. Just by believing them, we do not think, do or say the things that they inhibit. And in doing so we impoverish our lives.
We may have beliefs about rights, duties, abilities, permissions and so on. Limiting beliefs are often about ourselves and our self-identity. The beliefs may also be about other people and the world in general.In any case, they sadly limit us.
We may define ourselves by what we do or do not do. I may say ‘I am an accountant’, which means I do not do marketing and should not even think about it, and consequently fail to sell my services well.
Another common limiting belief is around how we judge ourselves. We think ‘I don’t deserve…’ and so do not expect or seek things.
We often have limited self-images of what we can and cannot do. If I think ‘I cannot sing’ then I will never try or not go to singing lessons to improve my ability. This is the crux of many ‘I can’t’ statements: we believe our abilities are fixed and that we cannot learn.
We are bound by values, norms, laws and other rules that constrain what we must and must not do. However, not all of these are mandatory and some are distinctly limiting. If I think ‘I must clean the house every day’ then this robs me of time that may be spent in something more productive.
I am/am not
The verb ‘to be’ is quite a pernicious little thing and as we think ‘I am’ we also think ‘I am not’ or ‘I cannot’. For example we may think ‘I am an artist’ and so conclude that we can never be any good at mathematics, or must not soil our hands with manual work.
‘I am’ thinking assumes we cannot change. Whether I think ‘I am intelligent’ or ‘I am not intelligent’, either belief may stop me from seeking to learn. ‘I am’ also leads to generalization, for example where ‘I am stupid’ means ‘all of me is all of stupid and all of stupid is all of me’. A better framing is to connect the verb to the individual act, such as ‘That was a stupid thing to do’.
When coupled with values we get beliefs about whether a person is right or wrong, good or bad.
Just as we have limiting beliefs about ourselves, we also have beliefs about other people, which can limit us in many ways. If we think others are more capable and superior then we will not challenge them. If we see them as selfish, we may not ask them to help us.
We often guess what others are thinking based on our ‘theory of mind‘ and beliefs about them. These guesses are often wrong. Hence we may believe they do not like us when they actually have no particular opinion or even think we are rather nice. From our guesses at their thoughts we then deduce their likely actions, which can of course be completely wrong. Faced with this evidence, it is surprising how many will still hold to the original beliefs.
How the world works
Beyond the limiting beliefs above there can be all kinds of belief about ‘how the world works’, from laws of nature to the property of materials. This can lead to anything from the beliefs that all dogs will bite to the idea that airplane travel is dangerous.
Why do we limit our beliefs?
A key way by which we form our beliefs is through our direct experiences. We act, something happens and we draw conclusions. Often such beliefs are helpful, but they can also be very limiting.
Particularly when we are young and have few experiences we may form false and limiting conclusions. Nature builds us this way to keep us out of harm’s way. We learn and build beliefs faster from harmful experiences. Sticking my finger on a hot stove hurts a lot so we believe all stoves are dangerous and never touch a stove again. If punching another child results in a sound beating we may henceforth believe ourselves weak.
When forming our perceptions of the world, we cannot depend on experiences for everything. We hence read and listen to parents and teacher about how the world works and how to behave in it.
But our teachers are not always that well informed. We also learn from what peers tell us and are ‘infected’ by their beliefs, which may be very limiting.
Education is a double-edged sword as it tells you want is right and wrong, good and bad. It helps you survive and grow, but just because you were told something, you may never try things and so miss pleasant and useful experiences and knowledge.
In decisions, we make ‘return on investment’ estimations and easily conclude that the investment of time, effort and money is insufficient, and that there is a low chance of success and high chance of failure. The return may even be negative as we are harmed in some way.
People make many decision errors, for example based on poor estimation of probabilities. We take a little data and generalize it to everything. We go on hunches that are based more on subconscious hopes and fears than on reality.
The word ‘because’ can be surprisingly hazardous. When we use it, it seems like we are using good reason, but this may not be so. We like to understand cause-and-effect and often do not challenge reasoning that uses the mechanisms of rational argument.
One reason we use faulty logic and form limiting beliefs is to excuse ourselves from what we perceive to be our failures.
When we do something and it does not work, we often explain away our failure by forming and using beliefs which justify our actions and leave us blameless. But in doing so, we do not learn and may increasingly paint ourselves into a corner, limiting what we will think and do in the future.
Limiting beliefs are often fear-driven. Locking the belief in place is the fear that, if we go against the beliefs, deep needs will be harmed.
There is often a strong social component to our decisions and the thought of criticism, ridicule or rejection by others is enough to powerfully inhibit us. We also fear that we may be harmed in some way by others, and so avoid them or seek to appease them.
“Expose an irrational belief, keep a man rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, and keep a man rational for a lifetime.” – Bo Bennett
Challenging ineffective beliefs can be difficult as it is probably something that we are not used to doing. For that reason, it’s important to make a habit of challenging our beliefs, even if you feel the belief has been validated. Try to identify the beliefs that causes the most distress or the “hot belief”. When you have the “hot belief” monitor how strongly you believe it.
How do you know which beliefs to challenge in the first place? There are many beliefs that are so firmly rooted that you wouldn’t even notice them. Why do you believe that if you sit on your chair it won’t collapse? Because of a belief that says your chair is stable. So naturally, if a belief is that deeply rooted it will take major efforts to overcome.
Why is questioning anything important?
If we have a strong belief and obviously feel that it is well supported, then there shouldn’t be a problem questioning it. You have nothing to lose if your belief is solid. because it will withstand intense scrutiny. if it isn’t then you have even more to gain by learning where the holes are and how to move forward more effectively.
Challenge beliefs by looking at the evidence for and against the belief.
The more you try to not think about something, the more you’ll think about it, so trying to eliminate negative thoughts completely doesn’t work. Instead, when you experience the negative core belief, you can learn to experience it as “just a thought” rather than as something that is true.
One Belief that was instilled in me growing up was, “Men don’t Cry” This belief was one that made perfect sense to me at the time. It made sense mostly because the men around me at the time were leaders, providers and “macho.” The belief was supported by the fact that it was a man’s role to be the strength of the family,and to lead by example. From what I gathered this entailed not showing weakness, which crying was surely a sign of. These beliefs were also supported at school, where the kid that cried was considered to be a weak cry baby. If I happened to shed a tear in the presence of my father or another male family member, I was chastised and /or ridiculed for it. So this belief was not only supported socially, but was imperative to me fitting into the male growth spectrum. I needed to fulfill this tall order of curbing my emotions to become a “real man.” This belief ran so deeply that at 9 years old I fought back tears during my Mother’s funeral, who had also requested that I not cry at her funeral.
As the years passed every time I would cry, feel like crying, or cried, I would force my way into a place that I didn’t feel whatever that it was that made me want to cry. If I couldn’t fight back the tears or hide them from everyone else I would compensate for them by pretending to be extra tough or doing something edgy that would overshadow the fact that I had cried. This behavior carried over into adulthood where the stakes were considerably higher, so my actions became more edgy, sometimes it would even mean putting my personal health and well-being at risk. I would go to great lengths to prove that I was a “real man.” I was so entrenched in this idea that it became a part of who I was, which played a major role in many of my life’s mishaps and eventually my incarceration.
Unfortunately, this idea of men don’t cry or what a real man is, isn’t specific to my experience. And I didn’t realize the effects of it until after years of incarceration and self-examination. By refusing to allow my emotions the space to be fully expressed I hindered my own growth and development. Crying is a natural part of the emotional process that we experienced as human beings. By stifling my emotions to the degree that I had been taught, stifled my own humanity. I hindered myself from feeling and turned that need to express into a negative, which ignited confusion. Whenever I felt like crying and didn’t think that the cause warranted it, I questioned my manhood, which negatively impacted my self-confidence. The compensation for my negatively impacted self-confidence hurt me and many others.
Today, I’m ashamed to say, not much has changed in terms of the idea that men aren’t suppose to cry. It is portrayed on television and other forms of media as weakness for the most part. In my community it is still the standard, however, I am proud to say that I no longer carry that belief. It took many years or wrestling with it, until I was finally able to truly examine it. Questioning enabled me to adjust and accept my tears as an asset, a reminder of my humanness, and a portion of my map as I navigate life. In my loneliest, most desperate moments my tears provided me with something that I felt nothing else could, relief. My tears allowed me to feel and come to terms with life events, people and circumstances in ways that eventually proved to be effective, they have provided me with solace when I needed it most. Nowadays, I’m proud to be a man capable of producing tears in those tender moments, such as the birth of a child, an expression of absolute humanity or even as a relief valve. Yes, I’m the guy that doesn’t mind crying during a movie. Does this make me less of a man, only to those who don’t understand the importance of embracing humanness.
I have no shame or regrets when it comes to this matter, well I do have one, that I wasn’t taught that it was okay to cry when I was younger. I think that it could’ve possibly altered the course of my life, a little extreme? I don’t think so. A part of my escalating acts of defiance were partly due to the suppression of my emotions. Had I been taught to express them without shame or even embrace them who’s to say that I wouldn’t have discovered more constructive ways to express myself, ways that wouldn’t have caused me and others so much heartache and pain. Crying isn’t weakness, it’s humanness and I wonder why I hadn’t been taught this at home or in school.
We’re taught math, reading,and writing skills early on to ensure the ability to contribute to society. Why then aren’t we taught what it means to be human, to be a human being in a community of many? Because I examined this belief and chose to adjust I am better able to navigate my own life and contribute to humanity. I use this belief as an example because it is a prominent one that I’m sure many can relate to, but also to show how the simple beliefs that we don’t give much thought to can impact our lives immensely. This is one of many and if we can get in the habit of challenging them we will all be better for it.
I don’t blame the men in my life for teaching me what they had been taught, it was their truth, but I do blame myself for not discovering my own truths through questioning. I also believe that part of the onus lies within our societal views. By not instilling our children with what it means to own beliefs or what it means to be a human being in general, in many ways we’re setting them up for failure.
What simple belief do you have that you haven’t question? By exploring this question you open the gateway to endless possibilities of growth and development, that comes through examining our beliefs. Do the beliefs currently held align in some way to the questions below?
Who am I?
Why am I here?
What do I want from life?
Am I going where I want to go?
What is the meaning of life?
Own Your Beliefs
“Quality questions create a quality life. They direct our mental focus and therefore determine how we think and feel.” -Tony Robbins
Make your beliefs YOUR OWN by questioning them.
Helpful Challenge Questions and Tips
Do your beliefs allow others to have their own beliefs as equally valuable?
Look for proof that the belief is true to you.
Do you have a belief that is not serving you?
Is there any thing that could change your mind concerning a particular belief?
Question the logic of your belief.
“Is that presumption that I have true? What proof do I have that it’s true?… does it serve me to continue believing it?” -Martha Beck
Two basic questions from a life coach:
How did I come to believe this?
Does it serve me to continue to do so?
Here is some great information we found in Nonsense Red Herrings, Straw Men and Sacred Cows: How we Abuse Logic in Our Everyday Language by Robert J. Gula 2007
tend to believe what they want to believe.
tend to project their own biases or experiences upon situations.
- tend to generalize from a specific event.
- tend to get personally involved in the analysis of an issue and tend to let their feelings overcome a sense of objectivity.
- are not good listeners. They hear selectively. They often hear only what they want to hear.
- are eager to rationalize.
- are often unable to distinguish what is relevant from what is irrelevant.
- are easily diverted from the specific issue at hand.
- are usually unwilling to explore thoroughly the ramification of a topic; tend to over simplify.
- often judge from appearances. They observe something, misinterpret what they observe and make terrible errors in judgment.
often simply don’t know what they are talking about, especially in matters of general discussion.
They rarely think carefully before they speak, but they allow their feelings prejudices, biases, likes, dislikes, hopes, and frustrations to supersede careful thinking.
rarely act according to a set of consistent standards.
rarely do they examine the evidence and then form a conclusion. Rather, they tend to do whatever they want to do and to believe whatever they want to believe and then find whatever evidence will support their actions or their beliefs.
They often think selectively: in evaluating a situation they are eager to find reasons to support what they want to support and they are just as eager to ignore or disregard reasons that don’t support what they want.
Plus four observations by J.A.C. Brown (from Techniques of Persuasion:
Want to feel that issues are simple rather than complex
Want to have their prejudices confirmed
Want to feel that they ‘belong’ with the implication that others do not
…and need to pinpoint an enemy to blame for their frustrations.
Have you ever held a belief that you felt was wrong, but still allowed it to influenced your behavior? The thought of challenging it will, more than likely, fill you with fear.
That happens when you build enough doubt consciously, but your subconscious is still in favor of the old belief. The subconscious almost always wins in the battle of any behavior, so unless you can focus your willpower for the rest of your life, you need to convince the subconscious it is wrong.To change your subconscious version of the belief you need to actually test it. This is the difficult part.
By identifying and getting rid of old beliefs you are automatically creating a new belief, if you create facts that counter your negative beliefs it helps change them into positive ones.
Develop a more accurate understanding of the world, and refine your thinking on the subjects that matter most to you.
It can be quite difficult to challenge the views that you’ve built your life on, and it takes genuine courage. But if you’re up for the challenge, it can also be extremely rewarding; by refining your viewpoints so that they’re as accurate as possible, you are improving yourself.
It takes courage to change a belief, especially when it doesn’t seem to be supported. It takes courage to have faith in something that doesn’t have readily available evidence. This is what makes it so easy to accept the beliefs that have been passed along to us, it doesn’t take much courage to believe what someone close to me believes. The vetting process has been done by them and I trust them. This paradigm ushers in the problem fully actualizing autonomy.
If Thomas Edison hadn’t believed that creating the light bulb wasn’t possible because it hadn’t been done today, where would we be? If any trailblazer had listened to the naysayers who couldn’t see beyond where they were, where would we be as a nation, a world? The courage to question and believe is not something that can be taught, you can be made aware of it’s existence, but the courage has to come from within.
The courage to challenge the norm and see beyond inherited beliefs liberates and empowers individuals and groups alike. The fear of not fitting in with what is considered popular and acceptable can seem overwhelming. This may outweigh the internal yearning to know more or feeling that something is right for you. The challenges of questioning or discovering beliefs lies within our fortitude.
A while back, following a keynote speech and during Q&A, someone in the audience asked a heartfelt, yet somewhat rhetorical question.
“So, how do I communicate to people that our approach, our culture, needs to change?”
My immediate impulse was to hit her with a stick.
Like Zen masters reportedly would do to knock someone out of her attachment to conventional reasoning.
But I was on a stage and far from her.
And anyway, I didn’t have a stick.
So, I gave her a koan-like question to ask “those people.”
A seemingly self-evident one designed to snap them out of it, to open their minds.
“Ask them if your organization, your culture, is producing the results it is designed to produce?”
As I glanced around the auditorium for a reaction, all I could sense was collective confusion.
And their visceral desire to shout out the, apparently, obvious response.
“Of course it’s not, idiot. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have asked you that question.”
But no one dared blurt that out.
Instead, they just sat there, perplexed.
Because they were deluded.
They believed that their organization was NOT producing the results it was designed to produce.
And they assumed that the reason had something to do with their people, with them.
In fact, their organization is producing precisely the results it is designed to produce.
So is yours.
So is your community, your family, your government, your country.
So is your life.
Because . . . the design determines the results.
So snap out of it!
Stop fighting the existing reality.
Stop trying to change the people.
Stop trying to change your mind.
If you don’t like the results, change the design.
The great systems theorist and designer Buckminster Fuller put it this way.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
To change your beliefs, change your behavior.
plural noun: fallacies
a mistaken belief, especially one based on unsound argument.
“the notion that the camera never lies is a fallacy”
a failure in reasoning that renders an argument invalid.
When I hear the word fallacy my mind quickly references the many I’ve had over the course of my life. The fallacies were popular, but false beliefs that I held for many years. The fallacies that I adopted were never challenged by me. I trusted beliefs that I had never questioned. And once I was taught the value of trust I knew I had to protect the things i trusted or believed in. This would serve to almost force me to believe in the fallacies, because it became sacred the moment I decided to believe, though it had not been vetted by me.
I approached my truths as a supporter of them, but with the willingness to hear the argument against them. This was mostly done because I truly believed that they could withstand the scrutiny and be validated. My approach had more to do with me needing to settle whatever it was within me that questioned my beliefs, I never doubted the actual beliefs, well, at least not intentionally. Most of the fallacies were exposed right away, however there was stout resistance from me due to the emotional attachment that accompanied most of those beliefs.
It also negatively impacted my self-esteem initially, because I questioned the validity of the argument against the fallacies altogether. Though it made perfect sense to me, it felt right to believe what I had been believing, my truth. As time passed I began to build my argument against fallacies that I agreed were fallacies. This left an indelible mark in my mind that would eventually influence my paradigm, which enabled me to identify the weaknesses in arguments(for and against). This heavily influenced my beliefs and actions….
Description of Fallacies
We found the following excerpt from Description of Fallacies by The Nizkor Project at: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/
In order to understand what a fallacy is, one must understand what an argument is. Very briefly, an argument consists of one or more premises and one conclusion. A premise is a statement (a sentence that is either true or false) that is offered in support of the claim being made, which is the conclusion (which is also a sentence that is either true or false).
There are two main types of arguments: deductive and inductive. A deductive argument is an argument such that the premises provide (or appear to provide) complete support for the conclusion. An inductive argument is an argument such that the premises provide (or appear to provide) some degree of support (but less than complete support) for the conclusion. If the premises actually provide the required degree of support for the conclusion, then the argument is a good one. A good deductive argument is known as a valid argument and is such that if all its premises are true, then its conclusion must be true. If all the argument is valid and actually has all true premises, then it is known as a sound argument. If it is invalid or has one or more false premises, it will be unsound. A good inductive argument is known as a strong (or “cogent”) inductive argument. It is such that if the premises are true, the conclusion is likely to be true.
A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning. This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts. To be more specific, a fallacy is an “argument” in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support. A deductive fallacy is a deductive argument that is invalid (it is such that it could have all true premises and still have a false conclusion). An inductive fallacy is less formal than a deductive fallacy. They are simply “arguments” which appear to be inductive arguments, but the premises do not provided enough support for the conclusion. In such cases, even if the premises were true, the conclusion would not be more likely to be true.
See more on fallacies at: https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/fallacies_list.html
Business Insider provides these insightful articles about Cognitive biases.The authors lists several cognitive biases that research suggests are cognitive stumbling blocks. View them by clicking on the links below:
20 Cognitive Biases That Screw Up Your Decisions
- by Shana Lebowitz and Samantha Lee
14 cognitive biases that screw up your success in life
by Drake Baer and Shana Lebowitz
15 Cognitive Biases That Screw Up Your Relationship
by Drake Baer and Shana Lebowitz
Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet
by Buster Benson
Ubuntu and Belief
Our beliefs influences others for better or worse. A great example of a belief that bolsters us all when subscribed to is the philosophy of Ubuntu. Ubuntu embodies community and keeps humanity at the forefront of our interactions with one another. This doesn’t mean sacrificing your autonomy, it means truly directing it and understanding that we are a community and we’re all in this together whether we want to be or not. Ubuntu transcends all barriers and only adds to humanity under all circumstances.
We found this insightful article about ubuntu at: https://thehurt.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/ubuntu/
Ubuntu is not a religious belief. Ubuntu is an underlying belief – it provides the “why” for actions that we all know to be good and just. By recognizing that we are all persons only through other persons, that I am human only because of the humanity of others, and that humans are intrinsically interconnected, I have a reason to treat others with respect. I have a reason to be affirming of others. I have a reason to be kind and welcoming and generous. It is this concept of Ubuntu that gives us the motivation to become real human beings and to treat others as such. Ubuntu gives us validation in our mission to accept responsibility, lead courageously, have empathy, enact justice on behalf of others, and work for a transcendent cause. Ubuntu is knowing what it means to be truly human.
The concept of Ubuntu on respecting and uplifting the humanity of others gives one a sense of accountability to oneself while having compassion and caring for others. By applying Ubuntu we can change the world one act at a time.
Think about what Ubuntu means to you personally, apply this wonderful ethic to your own life on a daily basis and find ways that you can make a difference in this world.
Let’s examine some of the pillars of Ubuntu living:
We found this great article on Ubuntu posted November 2007 at learnmindpower.com
Caring: Caring is embracing others. Their needs become your needs. Their joys and sorrows become your joys and sorrows. It is the practice of concern and oneness, which Jesus expressed as “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” It is putting the problems, interests and circumstances of others at a higher level of attention. For as Ubuntu teaches, “we are human through our interaction with others. Without others we are not human.” From this perspective we should welcome our interaction with others regardless of whether they are pleasant or not, for all interactions allow us to express our humanness.
Empathy: Empathy is the ability to successfully enter into the emotional situation of another, to listen and feel genuine sympathy because you hear and feel what others share with you. You listen with your mind but you also feel with your body, and this feeling allows you to “see” the situation from a deeper perspective. When we cultivate the practice of empathy it deepens us and gives us access to more humanness with which we can help others.
Sharing: In the Ubuntu culture it is normal to share generously with others. “Mahala” is the traditional African practice that teaches that it is proper to give to others without expecting anything in return. Not everything needs to be done for money or gain. You work to support your family and if you prosper you share with others. Even if you don’t prosper you must share because there is always someone else worse off than you. By sharing you express your humanness and find joy within because you awaken your heart. Heartless people have no joy, though they might have riches. People with heart have joy because they have discovered their humanness. To discover your humanness is to discover something great, a treasure unlike any other. Each day of our life gives us opportunity to discover and practice our humanness.
Respect: Respect covers many things. Respect for elders, children and all members of your community, respect for your ancestors, traditions, the ancient teachings and practices. Respect for oneself, for if one does not respect oneself how can one respect another? Respect for your environment and all living creatures. Respect for the Ubuntu way of life as a way to happiness and self-awareness.
A human being from an Ubuntu perspective should be kind, generous, friendly, living in harmony with himself, the environment and others, and at one with the creator. “This is what Africa can teach the world,” said Credo Mutwa, the respected Zulu Sangoma, “We have forgotten how to be human beings, and we must remember quickly if we are to save the world. Life is an instrument and we have lost the ability to play it. People live but they are not alive. We must use life and play it like an instrument and make beautiful music.”
Desire and Beliefs
We found this powerful piece on desire by Andrea Borghini at: http://philosophy.about.com/od/Philosophical-Theories-Ideas/a/Desire.htm Our hope is that it adds insight on the role that desire plays when it comes to beliefs. The first instance that comes to mind for me is the fact that the desire to belong played a role in me adopting some ineffective beliefs that have altered the course of my life.
What is a desire? Such notion is often taken for granted in contemporary analytic philosophy. But to provide an answer to that question is all but straightforward. There are several important nodes to be untied before having a viable notion of desire. Let’s see seven of them.
The Object of Desire
First off, we have an epistemological difference. The object of a belief can be any proposition whatsoever (for any proposition x, there is a belief that x.) Whatever content is good to be believed. Once stated this, we may like to make a lot of distinctions among beliefs: rational/irrational; dispositional/actual; a priori/a posteriori; de re/de dicto; innovative/banal; progressive/conservative; perverse/gentle; and so on and so forth. Many of such distinctions apply also to desire. It could seem though that a desire can be directed also toward objects, while a belief only toward a proposition, But I believe that this is just a grammatical difference, not touching what we are talking about.
The real problem with desires is to understand what kind of content they do have indeed.
More importantly, though, a desire and a belief cannot be separated in action, since we could not act if we had just beliefs; and we would be beasts if we would have only desires (but we could act!)
Fine Grained Desires
In order to understand what is a desire, we have to start from the distinction between a fine-grained notion of desire and a broader one. (i) The fine grained holds that a desire is directed toward a very well specified object, that can also be removed from the speaker (in time, space); more clearly, there could be a leap in space-time between the speaker and the object. (ii) For the broader notion, there is no such leap. A desire is a continuum describing what the speaker would like to do until the space-time point in which the object (state of affairs) is located.
The second notion seems to rule out the possibility of desiring something in the past and, in general, counterfactual desires. So, we cannot really say that I could desire to be Napoleon, since I cannot be him! The first conception, instead, conceives of counterfactual and impossible desires. (Notice that counterfactual desires are used to attribute some actual desire to a speaker, and not just to talk of what the speaker would have desired in case…Here could lie the categorical mistake!)
Another issue, that associates desires with beliefs, relates to the fact whether there are unconscious desires. If there would be none, then desires could not be dispositional. In a way, we could rule them out, at least as an ad hoc postulate to explain some behaviors. We may reasonably rule out dispositional desires; but unconscious ones prove harder to be eliminated: that would imply that a desire is always associated to a belief, and we know it is not (otherwise both would be necessary for an action!) Of course, unconscious desires seem to pose some problems for the specification of truths concerning an agent’s desires.
Second- and Higher-Orders Desires
Finally there is the issue of the efficacy of second order desires, nested desires, desires directed toward our own beliefs and mental states. Are they significant at all? And, suppose they are not, do they exist at all or they are just a categorical mistake (like desires toward the past?)
Desires and Beliefs
A desire could be defined as a simple impulse, in total opposition to a belief. Any desire involving a linguistic content is a structured desire, i.e. is a desire which requires a number of beliefs in order to be represented. If I desire a plate of pasta, I must have the belief that there is a plate, there is pasta etc. I must have a concept (i.e., an entity correlated to the existence of language and grammar) of such things and of the way they are related. In practice, a very simple desire presupposes an entire culture and a lot of abilities learnt through my life. So, a simple desire is at play only few times in the behavior of an adult. What an adult desire is almost always guided by the content of a bunch of beliefs.
Then there is the problem of more general, more specific desires: I may desire a plate of pasta because I desire to eat. The second one entails the first one (or contains it.) And there are various other relationships among desires: I desire to pay you a dinner because I desire to give you back what you gave me. The first desire is an instrument to perform the second desire. This could imply that the structure of the second desire is of higher-level, it is actually a second order desire, guiding other desires we have. But here there is an ambiguity: how many levels there are in the desire to give you back the help you gave me? It could be that in order to fulfill such desire I will desire that I will desire to have dinner. So it could be a third level desire. And maybe more. But its nature does not seem to depend from what I will do in the future. So, we should explain it in some other way. The fact is just that its content is broader. There is a big number of states of affairs that will fulfill it, some of them involve simple desires, some second level etc. No matter what do they involve, they are part of a big range, and it is this range which defines my desire.
What tools in life do you have that have proven to assist you in garnering success? Success on all levels starts with the intangibles, such as coping and communication skills for example. These are tools that will enable you to reach levels of success that maybe you could not have seen otherwise. An important part of creating, recognizing or sharpening those tools is experiences. Every experience has within it a lesson or tool for life. If you don’t recognize the lesson or tool it will simply be a matter of time before circumstances created will call for the need of the tool that you’re missing.
Developing Tools( thinking of effective ways to challenge ourselves when we need it most) can be especially hard when we are so tightly bound by our emotions, that we forget that we have a toolbox. Our toolboxes are comprised of tools we’ve generated throughout the course of our lives. Some of these tools have been used constantly whether to build or destroy.
When we were children and played with reckless abandon and fell to the ground hurting ourselves, whatever part of the anatomy that was negatively affected, we found ways to prevent it from happening or found a way to soften the blow.You learn from those experiences and create the most effective way to deal with things. The more you’re exposed to, the greater the opportunities are for growth and development.
Through the process of trial and error we develop tactics and techniques. Some of these we use more often than others.The more you’re engaged in challenges, which in turn presents an opportunity for you to challenge yourself,the more likely you are to accumulate multiple tools, which will all remain in your toolbox.
There are some powerful tools that we all can relate too to some degree, such as education. Then there are many styles of tools and how they will be used. I’ll continue with the example of education. Education isn’t restricted to classroom or vocational settings. You can educate yourself and be educated by others in many ways. By exploring the ways you learn best or what you’re interest are you better enable your self to figure our your strengths by which you can play to. There is no limit on education and anyone can be educated. The most efficient way to ensure quality and efficient education is to educate yourself about yourself. Make your experiences work for you by analyzing how and why they affected you. This puts you in the position to truly build your tool box most effectively.
What the tools are and how they are used is totally up to you. No two toolboxes will be the same. The tools are specific to the individual. The use or lack thereof will totally depend on the person as well. The basic tools that will serve you best to have in your tool box are careful decision-making, habits that prove to be effective in your quest to garner success, compassion for other human-beings, willingness to pass on what you have learned.
For every situation that you face there will be a tool to handle it, but if you don’t make a conscious decision to use a tool or haven’t spent some time developing your tools then you’re more at risk of being overwhelmed by obstacles in your path.
Your Tool belt
The most effective and frequently used tools can go in your tool belt. This would make them easily accessible. You’ll develop your skills with the more often used tools.You don’t want your tool-belt to weigh you down, and you can’t afford to waste space where more useful tools would be handy.Your tool-belt should contain tools that you are proficient with that you may need at a moment’s notice for the most probable task at hand. Sometimes the contents may change depending on what your daily routine consists of.Some tools you’ll only be using for big jobs or as a specialty tool.We have to keep our practice with those tools as well, so it’s great to check your toolbox from time to time and do preventive maintenance.
Learn your toolbox!