Posts Tagged With: Spiritual
Everyone makes mistakes. That’s why we say, “To err is human.” Yet, there is an internal force which sometimes drives us to hide our mistakes, either from ourselves or others or both.
At times I have a problem with being wrong. It is always hard to swallow, it seems as if I should have foreseen all the difficulties or roadblocks. As my careers progress, it usually gets harder to justify experimenting because I feel that my hard-earned reputations will suffer if I make a mistake. At times, I end up sticking to the safe path, rather than taking a potentially riskier way. The result is stagnation and a boring life. *sigh*
To err, we know, is human. But if that is true, then why do we (I’m putting myself in this category) take erring so hard? Sometimes the idea that we have been so often wrong in the past that it is pretty much certain that we will be wrong again makes it difficult. As Augustine once said, Fallor Ergo Sum (I err therefore I am). But why can’t people admit to being wrong?
I stumbled upon a TEDx talk by Kathryn Schulz which spoke about why we need to get over our fear of being wrong. Uhmm…it made me think – Why is it so fun to be right? Why do we feel embarrassed or defensive to admit being wrong? How often have I been part of senseless arguments because neither side, having become entrenched in our position, is willing to back down or find a middle ground to resolve things? How do I think and react to error and mistakes? Why am I unable to embrace my own inescapable fallibility and imperfectness?
I consider and re-consider various life situations where I am quite certain about my analysis of the situation, and that my beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt notion may not always be how things really are, only how things appear to be. I have made and am still making choices and then discovering that they were wrong.
We act plain dumb when it comes to accepting our blunders – yet remain cheerfully and stubbornly hopeful that we will not repeat our mistakes, and the ridiculous reasons for why we are right about something even against all evidence and proof. It does not matter whether our beliefs are conscious or unconscious, or if they are true or not, they determine how we feel and how we act every day of our lives. The brain itself is geared to error because it makes such lightning fast assumptions to be able to function in this world of sensory overload. You cannot take in all available sensory information, you naturally filter on a need to know basis, this is what sometimes leads to being wrong and it being funny because of the ridiculous things we mistakenly do. Feelings also lead us astray with what we want to be true…especially when it comes to family, friends, and lovers.
Inattentional blindness is an excellent example of us not being able to notice things that are in plain view.
There are many factors that lead us to err. We have the ability of people to be unduly influenced by peer pressures, even though most of us think that we are independent thinkers not prone to being influenced by what other people think. Independent thought is clearly a worthwhile endeavor; however, it in no way protects us from error. The fact is, we are “profoundly dependent on other people’s minds”– we tend to automatically accept advice/help/support from people we trust, we tend to automatically reject from people who are unfamiliar, disagreeable, or confrontational. Perhaps, doing both to our disadvantage. Perhaps assumed knowledge can be source of tremendous error. We have an amazing capacity to deny even obvious errors. Recognition of wrong is against human norms!!
And what about if we didn’t err? Well, if we didn’t err, we couldn’t ever change or grow and become more wiser. If we didn’t err, then life would be a whole lot more predictable than it is, having good and bad repercussions. If we didn’t err, we would never experience surprise or have reason to reflect or think deeply.
One needs to come to terms on just how being wrong is perfectly “normal” and a part of who we are, and start to move away from the belief that being wrong meant bring sloppy, or stupid, or ignorant. I broke free from I-was-blind-but-now-I-see shell. It makes sense that our brains would want to take shortcuts for efficiency sake, and it makes sense that sometimes those shortcuts will be off. Being fallible is hard-wired into our system. It is our tendency to be wrong about our own potential i.e., the fact that we constantly overestimate ourselves and underestimates the difficulty of our problems.
Erring should be seen not as a gaffe to be avoided, but a gaffe that should be embraced and accepted as an inevitable part of being human. Since life demands that we make decisions based on what we think will happen in the future, it is simply inevitable that some of these will be wrong. That is not and should not be a recipe for skepticism, which is a lazy attempt to fend-off error. Being aware of the mistakes we make that lead to error is the only way to curb it: recognize that fallibility is a part of life (not stupidity), make an effort to ‘hear the other side,’ phrase our predictions provisionally and treat them as such.
Erring is just part of life, yet we’re so intent on being right, we cling to our beliefs and positions and ignore evidence that undermines them, and we gloat when we’re right and someone else is wrong. We stubbornly cling to and defend positions that are factually incorrect.
There is a the good side of error – We are obsessed with making mistakes, and while caught by this obsession, we end up not learning from our experiences, thus making it more likely to make additional mistakes. There is no manual on getting things perfect.
Erring is also what makes life interesting and even funny (although it can sometimes be tragic). We are punished for our mistakes with demotions, contempt and sometimes, lifelong regret. Human error routinely leads to death or lasting suffering. As someone prone to being wrong (me: with no excuses or blame-worthy referents), I also found myself less invested in “being right” about small petty things that don’t really matter.
To err is human; to be aware of and admit the error is far more inhuman (Just Kidding!!)
Recently a close friend of mine, who is practising meditation told me to try meditation and keep smiling while doing so. I found this instruction a little odd, but decided to give it a go and started smiling while practicing meditation. A few days into it, I felt so calm and relaxed, and I was smiling! Now, when people tease me about always smiling I can’t help but want to shout, “It takes effort!”
Something about the act of smiling does something inside. It just makes you want to smile more. I was a bit surprised, as I have long been aware of the value of smiling. Many people think that smiling is something you do to be polite (etiquette) or only when you are feeling good (from within), but the truth is that smiling holds so much more for us, especially if we smile as a personal practice.
A true smile is one that turns up the corners of the mouth and causes crinkling around the eyes…(look in the mirror and see your eyes sparkle). Even scientists believe smiling relieves stress by helping you slow your breath and reduce your heart rate. According to a study by Professor Fritz Strack, Leonard L. Martin and Sabine Stepper, people who used their facial muscles to smile when viewing a cartoon found the cartoon to be funnier than those who didn’t smile. So it seems that by simply putting a smile upon your face is enough to improve your mood and let go of stress!
While I don’t necessarily have to have a happy thought in order to smile,it always helps if I find my own reasons to smile. And even if I don’t feel like smiling at first, once I put on a smile, it’s likely that it will quickly turn into a real thing. I can watch or read something funny, spend time with family and friends whose company I enjoy, or simply reflect on past experiences that brought me happiness. All it takes to bring a smile to my face is to think of my dog playing with her toy ball, or imagine dancing in the rain.
☆ “When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky” ~ Buddha ☆
I hope to find many reasons to smile this week, and take advantage of the warmth and good feelings that a smile can bring. And may this week smile on you!