Laughing Toward Truth: Six Tips for Lighthearted Thinkers
believe in the power of your convictions?
It's time to lighten up.
People love attaching themselves
to ideas. We can get pretty feisty when one of our beloved beliefs is
challenged. We're too busy defending to spend our time analyzing.
Truth has a tendency to get in
the way of our beliefs. We like having our rules to live by, our reasons for
feeling righteous, and our excuses for ending intellectual exploration. Just as
we climb up a ladder, we like counting on certain rungs to hold steady.
Thinking about cracks just makes us uneasy.
That approach works if your goal
is to reach the top, but it doesn't allow for much examination or lateral
growth. Plus, there's always the risk that you'll come crashing down.
Quick quiz: What fills you with
more satisfaction-- being right or discovering the truth?
Of course, the best scenario is
discovering that you knew the truth all along. Validation is a huge motivator.
That's why we find it more exhilarating to win an argument than it is to learn
more about the other side.
It's kind of like that whole
"life is about the journey" concept. The thrill is in the seeking.
We've forgotten that. It's as though we went on a treasure hunt, stumbled upon
what we thought was the hidden booty, and now we've become complacent.
What if what you found wasn't
the real treasure? What if the whole point was to keep looking?
Thinkers have been wrestling
with the concept of truth for ages. Socrates was fond of saying that there are
only two kinds of beings who do not need philosophy: the gods, who are already
wise, and the fools, who think they are wise. We want to be in that large
middle group of people who recognize their lack of wisdom and continue their
quest for truth and knowledge.
It's helpful to be reminded that
our role as humans isn't to figure things out--it's to KEEP ON figuring things
out. Don't take my word for it. Here are some truisms about truth from some
#1 "The fact that an
opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly
absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a
widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible."
Bertrand Russell, British mathematician
think of any widely held absurd beliefs? You're not trying hard enough!
Fashion, pop culture, politics, (gasp!) religion, and virtually every other
arena of modern life is full of examples of ideas that have somehow taken hold
but defy logic. Good Thinker rule number one is simply this: Never accept an
idea just because everyone else does.
#2 "Whoever undertakes to
set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter
of the gods."
Albert Einstein, American physicist
Leave it to Albert to maintain
that crucial sense of humor and humility. The more we know, the more we get a
clue about how much we don't know. At least, that's the way it's supposed to
work. You probably know people who haven't quite come around to that
realization yet. Get there now. Accept it, celebrate it, and keep on thinking.
#3 "Believe those who are
seeking the truth; doubt those who find it."
Andre Gide, French writer
Your best bet is to hang out
with those who are happy to admit that they don't have all the answers. As
friends, co-workers and party guests, they tend to be a lot more fun, anyway.
#4 "Chase after the truth like all hell and you'll free
yourself, even though you never touch its coattails."
Clarence Darrow, American attorney
Play the game and have some fun
with it, even if you never score. Remember playing games with your friends way
back when you were five? You didn't have a clear sense of the rules or even the
point of the game, and neither did anyone else. It didn't matter. The reason
you were playing was to simply enjoy the game, even if that meant making it up
as you went along.
Approach truth-seeking like a
five-year-old playing a new game. Don't get caught up in the regulations, and
don't keep score. Who cares who's winning?
#5 "And we should consider
every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call
every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh."
Friedrich Nietzsche, German
Nietzsche saluted the creative
force that feeds us. Despite a life of ill health and misery, he recognized the
value of joy in the seeking of truth. Most of us have it a whole lot easier
than Nietzsche. We have no excuse for not laughing.
#6 "Truth is mighty and
will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this, except that it ain't
Mark Twain, American writer
Truth doesn't rise to the
surface. You've got to dig for it. Truth doesn't automatically rule; fallacies
with excellent public relations campaigns tend to dominate in our culture.
Truth isn't easy, but it isn't
supposed to be. If you want to dive into the human experience in all its glory,
you're going to be wading through a lot of ideas masquerading as the truth.
Think for yourself, and have
some fun with it. Look for truth in the unlikeliest places. Find the absurdity
in every idea.
The best philosophers have loads
of laugh lines. Start creating yours. You'll become a better thinker, a happier
truth-seeker, and a more excellent human.
About The Author
Maya Talisman Frost is a mind
masseuse. Her work has inspired thinkers in over 70 countries. She serves up
a satisfying blend of clarity, comfort and comic relief in her free weekly
ezine, the Friday Mind Massage. To subscribe, visit http://www.massageyourmind.com.
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