The majority of us have heard someone tell us at some point in our lives to question everything. The inquisitive two-year-old somehow inherently understands that notion when he or she constantly asks one simple question – Why?
The response to that question usually leads to a simplistic (or even a dismissive) answer which the child accepts. At two years old, we have not necessarily learned to question things and then examine the validity of the response. Rather, we learned to accept information we received from sources we believe to be credible. Unfortunately, many of us never unlearned this conditioned response of acceptance, and have been relegated to having the psyche of a toddler.
The word ‘believe’ is, according to Miriam-Webster, in the top twenty percent of words most used in the English language. Its definition?
1 a : to have a firm religious faith b : to accept something as true, genuine, or real
2 : to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something
3 : to hold an opinion : think
1 a : to consider to be true or honest b : to accept the word or evidence of
2 : to hold as an opinion : suppose
Belief in any idea is contingent only on our acceptance of that idea. That belief can be based completely on rational, verifiable information or it can be totally devoid of any logic at all. It can be based on a personal experience we’ve had or it can be because of something we read that is conveniently congruent with our worldview.
Regardless of our current beliefs, it can be beneficial to periodically reevaluate what we believe to be true. Depending on our past experiences, we may or may not choose to modify our beliefs.
Either way, here are ten areas we can question and evaluate our beliefs:
Do I care about this issue because the media told me it’s important? Is the information accurate? Do I recognize any clear bias?
Is this reputable science or is it click bait? What entity is responsible for doing this research? Who is responsible for funding this project? Are the findings reasonable if they are in favor of the entity carrying out the research?
Are all the answers to every problem found in nature? How is nature reflected in my personal life? If nature is dynamic, why does life sometimes not seem to reflect that?
Who’s telling the narrative? Are the stories too sanitized? Is my skepticism about this because I simply do not want to believe it is true?
Is there any culture that is incongruent with my own? If so, what makes that true? Is it impossible for people from different cultures to actually coexist without major disagreements?
Where did I get my political views? Are there any problems with my political stances? Are there any viable alternatives or better political ideas than the one currently available?
Does the government have an agenda? Is the government always correct? How do I directly and indirectly participate in what happens in government?
Is religion (or lack thereof) a function of the time I was born, location, the family I belong to, or the culture to which I belong? Do I know why I believe what I believe? If someone told me to believe what I believe, did I question it?
Did my parents do everything mostly right or mostly wrong? If and/or when I have children, what will I emulate and what will I completely reject?
See Also: The Problem of the Perfect Parent
Are there any patterns I recognize in my past relationships? How have my previous experiences shaped my current views on relationships? Have I learned something new about myself in each of my relationships? What will I do with that knowledge?
See Also: The Role of Karma in Your Relationships
Asking questions such as these are only the beginning of questioning everything. The more difficult part sometimes is receiving the answers to those questions.
If answered honestly, we may learn that we did not arrive at a particular set of beliefs on our own, and we may experience a level of cognitive dissonance. After much scrutiny, we may learn more about ourselves than we ever thought we would.
It isn’t so much the information we are after, but it’s what we do with that information that makes this process so valuable. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is a return to the inquisitive nature which we may have lost touch with. From that, we can begin to mature further and gain clarity about who we are and what we want from life.