Judge a person based on their questions rather than their answers. To ask the right questions today is the answer.
It is a hard fact that each of us is ignorant in any way. Even if we tend to pretend otherwise, it is impossible to know everything.
Ignorance is our greatest collective secret.
And that is one of the scariest and most damaging realities of life, for those of us who are most ignorant – and thus most likely to spread ignorance – are often the ones who do not know it.
Here is a quick test:
If you have never changed one of your beliefs, if you have never questioned the basis of your views, and if you do not have a tendency to do so, you are probably ignorant of something you think you understand.
What is the immediate solution?
Just go one step beyond your social bubble and find someone (online or offline) who, in your opinion, believes, behaves or handles certain aspects of life differently than you. Then have a simple, honest and peaceful conversation with them. I promise it will do you a lot of good.
Once you have done that, here are some important truths to remind yourself of on a regular basis:
- Many of the biggest misunderstandings in life could be avoided if we simply take the time to ask, “What more can this mean?”
- An expert is not a person who always has all the right answers – she is the one who asks the right questions, consistently.
- Very few of us actively seek new knowledge in this world daily. We become comfortable with what we know and stop questioning things. On the contrary, we try to squeeze out the unknown the answers we have already formed in our own senses – judgments, justifications, validations, forms of consolation without which we can feel incomplete or outside the center. To really ask something new is to open the door to be uncomfortable.
- Monsters exist in the real world, but in most cases they are too few in number to be really dangerous in the long run. More dangerous are ordinary people with good intentions who are immediately ready to believe and act without asking questions.
- If someone can make you ask the wrong questions, they do not have to worry about how they answer you. (Be aware of emotional manipulation.)
- As you make your bed so you must lie. No one has ever made themselves strong by showing how small someone else is. Everyone you meet learns something, is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something. Know this and be careful not to dehumanize those you do not agree with. In our self-righteousness, we can all too easily become what we dislike in others.
- At the end of the day, the questions you ask about yourself decide what kind of person you will become.
- Courage does not happen when you have all the answers – it happens when you are finally ready to face the questions you have avoided for too long. (Note: Angel and I guide our students and Think Better, Live Better seminar participants through this process to find out their inner courage.)
- No matter how much you know or how many incredible questions you ask, you can never know everything. Believing that you do is proof of the opposite. The desert around us always has answers to more questions than we have yet learned to ask. And that’s a beautiful thing.
- Although life will always be filled with unanswered questions, it is courageous to seek the answers that count – this journey is what gives life meaning. In the end, you may spend your life rippling in frustration and misery and wondering why life must be so complicated, or you may be grateful that you are strong and smart enough to question your circumstances and grow from them. (Note: Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the chapter “Adversity” in 1000 little things that happy, successful people do differently.)
Now it’s your turn…
To be present and patient with everything that remains inexplicable in your heart and mind.
Engaging with people today, including those who think differently.
To listen carefully.
To not only grow in knowledge but also to be a person who gives back.
To let your questions guide you and then use what you learn to make a difference.
And if you feel like it, we would love to hear from YOU before you go …
Which point mentioned above resonates with you the most today and why?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
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