Last week at our community pool I was talking to one of my little brother’s friends. He was about 5 years old and told me with unbridled enthusiasm how high he can count: “I can count to 200!” He then proceeded to share with me all sorts of random wisdom he had acquired in his short existence.
Suddenly a light bulb went off in his head as he remembered a golden gem that he wanted to share. Proudly, he said: “If you put bunny ears on somebody it means you love ‘em!”
This got me thinking. He really believed it! He was convinced. And I remembered when I was young, goofy trends like this would come and go. At different times, I was convinced monsters existed, I believed far-fetched stories, and I swore by certain “facts”, all because I didn’t have enough evidence to convince me otherwise. I was young, how could I have known?
But what really fascinated me was that while I knew there were holes in his claim, he did not see them. And I wondered…how often does this still happen? How often does somebody believe something that really has no solid footing in truth? A classic example would be somebody who believes they can’t do something though they’ve never tried it. This boy has an excuse, he is young! But if you think about it, we are always young compared to what we will be when we look back on this very moment. It’s scary to think that I could have beliefs right now, at age 20, just like this boy did at 5, that I will one day look back upon and say “I believed what? I guided my life based on what?”
After this conversation with him I realized the importance of open-mindedness, the importance of taking a step back and questioning, even our own beliefs, while accepting the possibility that we could be wrong. The only trouble is, people like to be right, and many assume they are. But we never know how little we know until we look back in hindsight. Ever hear someone say “I did such stupid things as a kid”? Have you said that about yourself?
We think differently at all stages in our lives, and almost always consider the earlier version of ourselves less intelligent than the current one.
Thus, the lesson to be learned here is this: we don’t always see the whole picture, regardless of how confident we are. We likely don’t have all the facts, either. The best we can do is keep an open mind and welcome new ideas, while at the same time challenging our own!
Photo by hisks