Knowing what you believe is an essential part of becoming a fully-realized person. It is also helpful in a number of different ways.
Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What do you believe?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What are you willing to sacrifice?’
Knowing your beliefs can:
- Make you more confident
More than anything else, perhaps, your beliefs help define who you are. The more you know your beliefs, the more you know yourself, and the more confident you will be.
- Keep you from being fooled
If someone tries to provide you with misleading or manipulative information, knowing your own thoughts is crucial. In other words, they can help you navigate difficult waters.
- Help you make decisions
Companies often have a “mission statement” that provides guidance when there is a decision to be made. Personal beliefs can serve the same purpose. For instance, does an action get you closer to your ultimate goal? Does a decision match your values?
- Be a conversation starter
If you find yourself talking to a stranger and you don’t know what to say, falling back on what you believe is a good way to start. Talking about something you believe in will provide a topic to build a discussion around. Similarly, it can also be useful in determining how to respond to a conversation someone else starts.
- Make fulfilling friendships
If you know what you think and care about, you can surround yourself with people who have beliefs that are similar, or complementary, to your own. Those friendships are likely to resonate more significantly.
- Help you choose a meaningful career
Similar to finding friendship, the key to a fulfilling career can be an alignment of your own beliefs with a company culture or goals.
Can you think of other ways beliefs are important?
Easier said than done
Of course, talking or thinking about your beliefs is quite different from actually knowing what they are. In attempting to discover what you believe, you may even find that you question things that you have believed for a very long time. That can be very disconcerting.
Do you know what is important to you? What you are passionate about, and what is central to who you are as a person? What do you believe?
Related questions: What beliefs do you have that might be wrong? How can we encourage meaningful conversation? What is important? How do you know who to trust?
4 thoughts on “What Do You Believe?”
– I believe that poverty is corrosive, both literally and figuratively.
– I believe the far-too-numerous -isms are oppressive and violent and born out of the desire to maintain misbegotten power.
– Unfortunately, I also believe that children can be taught that poverty is natural and that the oppression and violence used to lord over others is warranted.
– Therefore, I believe in justice-oriented parents, teachers, and activists who pay as much attention to children and teenagers as they do adults.
– I believe in charity and justice, but primarily I believe in justice.
– I believe: “When the people lead, leaders will follow.”
– I believe that good parenting is one of the most important jobs in the world.
– I believe that working toward individual and systemic health, over time, creates abundance.
– And so, I believe that — as best we are able (while staying away from self-absorption) — we must care for our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health.
– I believe, as my mom once told me when I talked to her about needing to go to work even though I was incredibly ill, “Michael, you are not that important!”
– Yes, I believe, if you have done your job well, others will know how to fill your shoes.
– Furthermore, I believe that there is a danger in taking yourself and others too seriously.
– So, stop doing that!
– The main values I want to live out are: balance, curiosity, doubt, gratitude, (active) hope, humor, integrity, idealism, reverence, responsibility, transparency trustworthiness, vision … and love.
– I believe in the scientific method and, more broadly, science.
– I believe in the observation that the more we know, the more we know we don’t know.
– I believe doubt is a virtue.
Michael, one of my frustrations with this blog is that often we get few or no responses to our comments. This comment of yours is a good example. It’s been a week and no one has responded to your excellent reflection. Are you able to see how many people you reach with your comments? Maybe that’s a better measure of this blog’s effectiveness. It’s like planting seeds, or throwing pebbles in a pond that send out ripples that touch people’s lives. 🙂
Lee and I share your frustration. We are trying to figure out how to change that (and other things). We have even set goals for 2020 to address issues like this. On a positive note, we see the number of visitors, and we know that we have more people reading the blog than ever. We just need to encourage visitors to engage in the conversations.
Thanks for being upfront.
I wrote this in response to reading a book called “This I Believe”. That was eleven years ago and I don’t see anything much to change.
This I Believe
I believe in Jesus Christ.
To me, the word “believe” also means to know. I know Jesus Christ, even if it’s just a little.
I’d like to know him better, and I’m working at it. Why is knowing him so important to me? I was born into the Christian faith. I am now 67 years old. I suppose it’s not too late to study other religions, and I intend to do so. In the meantime, I want to get to know Jesus better because I believe he is God.
About thirty years ago, I became a Catholic. The priest, who taught me about the Catholic faith, put it in words that I could understand. He said that faith is like buying a set of tires. You may not understand how tires are made, but you trust them to get you safely to your destination. The same goes for Jesus. Trust him and see what happens.
I decided I would try trusting Jesus. That was thirty years ago, and I’m still trusting him.
It hasn’t been easy. My family hasn’t always shared my enthusiasm for my new faith. Like when I’ve tried to preach to them; or the time I took cash out of the ATM machine to give to a “street person”; or when I catch and release insects or mice.
For me, getting to know Jesus takes time and effort, just like getting to know anyone. It involves regularly spending time with him. For me, this is a work in process – I have a long way to go.
I try to be still and listen. It can be frustrating when I hear nothing, or am distracted with my own inner voice. There doesn’t seem to be a “correct” way to get to know him. One favorite way is to look for him in “the least of my brothers” (and sisters), starting with myself and those closest to me.
Part of my faith involves believing in angels. To me, angels are God’s messengers. I recently read that we all have seen hundreds of them. I believe it. How else would I believe in God unless someone told me about Him/Her? Angels in my life include my Mom and Dad, my Grandparents, my wife, my children and grandchild, family, friends, pastors, teachers, co-workers, and even some people I really don’t like.
I respect other faith traditions. I happen to be a Christian because I was born into my family in a largely Christian nation. Had I been born in another part of the world, I could well be Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or Jew. I believe that God created and loves all of us and all of creation.
It is mind-boggling, I know! How can God possibly know and love each person on earth, let alone each plant and animal? I think back to what the priest told me thirty years ago. God is mystery. We cannot possibly know the mind of God. Suffice it to say, I believe God knows and loves each one of us. I know it because thirty years ago, I decided to trust Jesus. So far, it seems to be working.