This opened up even more opportunity to explore. And explore I did. I was forced to question everything I was brought up to believe. I was forced to ask myself whether I lived certain morals because they were morals I really believed in or simply because somebody had told me that such morals were the morals I should have.
Something interesting, simple, and profound happened when I did that. First, I learned that I did believe many of the things I had been brought up to believe. Second, I learned that I didn’t believe many of the things I had been brought up to believe. This cleansing of my belief system became crucial if I was to get to the point where I could truly stand behind my own beliefs.
With time, I developed beliefs so strong that I felt I could call them my own. I came to an understanding that worked for my abilities to believe instead of against them. And so… the real test. Would I really give up my life, my loved ones, and everything I held dear for my new beliefs? The answer was still… no.
But it was a lot closer to a yes than it was before.
I called up my friend and asked him point blank if he would die for his beliefs. I asked him if he would give up his own children. I asked him if he would give up his wife.
He said, “no.”
“No? What was all that talk at dinner way back when?”
Again he brought me to ponder some heavy things with his answer. “Dan, it takes a lot longer than a year or two or even ten to believe in anything that strongly. What matters is that you start questioning, and that you start believing in your own beliefs, no matter what they are, and whether they line up with the beliefs of others or not. Until a person does that, well, like I said before… they aren’t his beliefs at all.”
Again, our conversation left me with much to ponder. Again, I knew he was right. By worrying so much about whether or not my beliefs were right, and whether or not they were my own, I was doing what I had done most of my life. I was fighting to believe. True, I felt better, and true, I was making steps in the right direction, but I needed to let time continue to strengthen my correct beliefs and disprove my incorrect beliefs.
And that is what I have been doing ever since. I’ve been focusing on the questions, not on the beliefs. And as I do that, my beliefs have grown continually stronger. I have been able to ditch certain of my newer beliefs that weren’t really believable after further scrutinization. I have been able to hone even further my newer beliefs that are seemingly solid and right.
The truth is, I wouldn’t die for my beliefs right now. I wouldn’t give up my loved ones. But I would give up my house. I would give up my car. I would give up this blog. I would give up anything material that I have in this world. And, I wouldn’t have done that before. Not with beliefs that weren’t mine. Not if I was being honest about it.
And because I feel so liberated and wonderful actually believing what I now say I believe, I continue to ask myself what else I actually believe. Do I really believe the politics that I say I do? I think so, but I don’t know so. So, I’ve gotta start asking the tough questions. After all, I was born and raised a certain way, and I’ve spent my entire adult life trying to prove that backing such politics is right. Well, those aren’t my beliefs. They are somebody else’s beliefs. Maybe they will be mine after I question them, but only boldly questioning them will tell.
Do I really believe all of the other things I was taught were right or wrong? I’m figuring that out, one piece at a time. And when I do, I’ll be able to stand behind those beliefs too. And I’ll always continue to question them. I’ll always continue to question all my beliefs. I’ll always continue to look at them under the microscope. As long as I do, I know that I need not fear that my beliefs might be wrong, or even worse, that they might belong to others.
Why do we all believe what we believe? Why do you believe what you believe? And the harder question… Do you actually believe what you believe? Or are your beliefs simply the passed-down beliefs of others? Have you ever really questioned your beliefs? Have you ever really looked at how they might also be wrong instead of only focusing on how they must be right?
If you do, I can promise you one of two things will happen.
Either you’ll find that they truly are your beliefs, and you’ll believe them more than you ever realized was possible. Or, you’ll find that they aren’t really your beliefs at all, and you’ll feel the liberation that can only come from leaving them behind and finding your own, authentic, genuine beliefs. Either way you’ll be happier. You’ll be more content. You’ll be more passionate. And, you’ll be less… scared.
If there is one thing I’m convinced of, it’s that many people are scared to question their beliefs. After all, what if they’re wrong?
Well, what if they are?
But then again, what if they aren’t?
There’s only one way to really know. Start questioning. And do it boldly.
I can tell you this. There is nothing that is correct that questioning won’t make stronger. And there is nothing incorrect that questioning won’t make weaker.
Just find your beliefs and make them your own. It was the most incredible thing I ever did. It made me a better man. It made me a better friend. It made me a better father.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. I’d love to hear your thoughts (without getting into any religious, political, or other unnecessary debate). Have you ever really questioned what you believe? Have you ever put your beliefs to the test? What was the result? Also, do you believe what I wrote when I said that questioning anything right will only strengthen your beliefs while questioning anything wrong will only weaken them?
As difficult as it may be, please don’t name any religions or beliefs today. I really don’t want to turn this into that kind of discussion/debate. You’ll notice that I didn’t talk about what my beliefs or my old religion were/are at all. Please afford everybody else the same. This is meant to be a discussion about beliefs, not an opportunity to recruit others to your own beliefs.
Oh, and if anything I wrote today struck you as important or sharable, I’d really be thankful if you’d take a moment and share today’s post.