Monday, March 7, 2016

Monday Mantra: A Difference of Opinion

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Opinions: Creating battles between friends, family, and complete strangers since the beginning of time
I Love Doodle
Political season brings out a special quality in everyone that I like to refer to simply as insanity. Social Media arguments ensue. Memes of every quote said with every image captured of each candidate abound. Half of them praise the person, the other half make them look like idiots - it all depends on who posts them, of course. Statements of "Go ahead and unfriend yourself from my page if you're voting for X, Y, or Z!!!" can be seen everywhere. 

It's a mess, really. 

That being said, I find opinions to be fascinating things. Opinions have waged wars and won over lovers. They've been used as weapons, tools, resources. They are almost always used as fact, even though that is horrifically incorrect. Opinions, in general, are taken the wrong way because they are often used the wrong way. We live in a society that no longer understands what or how an opinion works. We've forgotten that one can express themselves while still being polite and respectful of other people's thoughts.

And other people's thoughts, my friends, are exactly how opinions become opinions. 

Two people can be in the same room, seeing the same person give a presentation, yet walk away with completely opposite views simply because they are different people with different life histories, which has led to different thought patterns. One may find the speaker to have been charming, intelligent, relatable while the other may have found them completely repulsive. All because of each and every big, little, and in-between experience they've had in their lives. Those differences that you've felt/seen/heard/learned your whole life is what has shaped the way you form opinions. But so have other things, like...the internet.

You can Google your little heart out and find exactly what you're looking for because that's how the internet works. You will find, I guarantee it, exactly what you set out to find. If you hate something, you'll find plenty of articles and news stories to support that hatred. If someone else loves that same thing, bingo - they'll find all kinds of resources supporting their love for it. Why? Because that's what you're looking for. You're not looking to prove yourself wrong, you're looking to prove yourself right.

"You want to be right about how you see the world, so you seek out information which confirms your beliefs and avoid contradictory evidence and opinions."
 -  Confirmation Bias by David McRaney 
(Yes, I found this on the internet)

What I've noticed lately is a whole lot of hypocrisy. People I know who had, for example, religion shoved down their throats their whole lives are now shoving their political views in everyone's faces. They don't realize they're acting the way they were treated and shown to act, but just on a different topic. They don't realize they're doing the thing they hate.

How can we get better (and smarter) when it comes to opinions? Challenge yourself. Make yourself uncomfortable by looking for both the good and bad in everything. Because it's there, whether you've realized it or not. I know this sounds easy and you might be thinking you already do this, but most people don't because it's not natural. In fact, it goes against the nature of how you perceive information. To challenge yourself, to make yourself a truly informed person, you have to open the channel of possibilities for all things. You have to allow, nay, invite information that you would have previously ignored to infiltrate your thoughts. You have to, ultimately, break down each and every preconceived notion you've ever had in your whole entire life. 

Whew, that sounds exhausting, right? Why in the world would you want to spend your time and precious brain cells doing this? Because you owe it to yourself. Life as you know it is only life as you know it. There is so much more to everything. Allow yourself the opportunity to be open to the countless possibilities before you.

"I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it." - Mae West

Disclaimer: Let me be very clear and say that I most definitely have done all of these things myself and I don't think I'm exempt from what I'm saying. Or that I won't make mistakes in the future. My point is that we can all try to be better, and I surely want to try.

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