One of the most important things we can do in our lives is to continuously evolve. In fact, evolution is necessary in all aspects of our lives in order to overcome the hurdles that appear before us and cause us to stumble or fall. But, do opinions or biased opinions aid us in this process?
Years ago, in an effort to keep up with world events, I tasked myself with reading the newspaper at lunchtime. It served two purposes; the brain fuel of knowledge and a guaranteed midday break from work. I generally read from the same newspaper company every day. One day, I read about a tragic event that had happened and I remember it made me quite sad. I went back to work after lunch and continued to think about what I had read.
Later that day, I stopped by a co-worker’s desk and noticed that she had the competitor’s paper of the newspaper company I read daily on her desk and it was also covering the same story, but the headline was much different from the one I read earlier that day. I asked her if I could borrow it and then I took it back to my desk and read it. As I continued to read the article, the more horrified I’d become. The story while being the same subject matter, greatly contradicted the article in the other paper.
Do Opinions Help Us to Evolve, Or Do They Hinder Us?
I realized that every day while I sat and read in an effort to keep up with world events, I was only reading a biased opinion based on an agenda being pedaled – which made me feel cheated with a pit in my stomach. It was as if I was back in school with the ‘mean girls’ who were always trying to turn me against a friend because she chose to dress in a way that expressed her character.
I decided that just like I turned away from that behavior in school because I knew and liked my friend, I needed to find a way to continue to do the same thing now and in the future. I wanted to consider the whole picture of the situation in order for me to make a healthy decision for myself regarding politics, war, healthcare, community happenings, cultural differences, etc. For I understood that a biased opinion pedaling an agenda only creates hatred, anxiety, war, bad political practices, and ineffective creation of laws, just to name a few.
I understood that in order for me to stay on a path of evolution, I needed to create a healthy pattern of how I would ingest, process, and formulate my opinions so that I could be my best self, a better parent, do well in my career, and also be a helpful member of society. I decided that when I wanted to learn about a subject, I needed to read several books on the subject and continue to weed through knowledge laced with biased opinions to get to the facts.
It was a lengthier process than what I had learned in school in my youth, when we were given one book to study on a subject and that book was what we learned, as well as what our knowledge of that particular subject was tested on.
As life continued, my eyes were more open to conversations between biased opinions and it was interesting to me to watch and listen to heated tempers when ideas were challenged (only sometimes with facts) and to see how people’s minds close down to any other outside knowledge if that knowledge challenged a belief they had.
Through these interactions, I learned that I needed to create friendships that were understanding of respectful, intelligent challenge in order to continue my evolution. I am grateful to those friends for understanding and respecting me and allowing me the opportunity to understand and respect their knowledge and beliefs.
Through my experiences, I learned my approach to knowledge could be taught to others in an attempt to keep others evolving but I also discovered that meant my approach needed to evolve and include kindness and words spoken with tenderness.
If this concept of inner evolution interests you, try this:
- Pick a subject that you’ve wanted to learn about.
- Read as many articles from different sources on it.
- Find someone close to you to have a conversation about that particular topic (just be sure to let them know that you are trying something new).
- Listen to their thoughts on it and if yours differ, explain (with kindness and tenderness) what you have read and what you found interesting and/or not found interesting on that subject.
- After the conversation, write down what transpired between the two of you during the conversation and what new things you learned about yourself during the conversation
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 with another person and then 5 afterwards.
Continue this process with as many people as you would like and watch how your communication evolves. Take a look at who you begin to feel closer to, who gains your respect, or what new topics evoke empathy in you. This is you beginning a new evolution in your life.
Expanding your mind gives you a broader look at things, it creates a deeper connection to the people you love, a genuine respect for those you don’t know, opens lines of communication when in disagreement, and creates endless possibilities for your evolution – and the ability to be a part of creating a better place for all.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all cared enough to strive for a better place for all of us, and participated in that collective evolution daily?
Monica Ortiz is founder of The Exceptional Life Institute, a one of a kind school focused on self-evolution through mindfulness. She is also the author of Universe 101: Learn Grow Evolve and the creator of Masters of Mindfulness, the world’s most complete mindfulness app. She has spoken at TEDx, Google, and Stanford University. To find out more please visit her website below.