Challenge: We live in a society of advice columns, experts and make-over shows. Without even knowing it, you can begin to believe someone knows better than you how to live your life. Someone might know a particular something better – like how to bake a three-layer molten coconut chocolate cake or how to build a website – but nobody else on the planet knows how to live your life better than you. (Although one or two people may think they do.) For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, “What do I know about this?”.
A while ago I realized I tend to vary between two extremes: I assume everybody else knows better than I do on the one hand, but if I happen to get involved in a debate, I will cling to my point of view regardless of knowledge or logic.
I don't know that either of these are unusual behaviors, but they're both ridiculous. So I've tried to find some balance: I try to value my own opinions and not worry about the right or wrong. I speak up a little more at work, I post my opinion a little more online, I try not to worry about what other people think or the fact that I might be wrong.
On the other side of the coin, I try -- the operative word being 'try' -- not to get into debates with people who tend to make me defensive and bring out my worst. For example, I don't argue politics anymore with my dad. If I do get into a debate with someone, I try to give my opinion on the things I know something about and try not to give my opinion on things I really know little about. I try not to descend into illogic. I try not to be defensive.
I fail a lot.
It's hard. There's a very fine line between respecting your own opinion and being aware of how much you don't know.
However, I think all of the above applies to debatable philosophy. When it comes to how I live my own life, and the decisions I make for myself, I don't think I really look to other people for approval. My mother taught me when I was little to never let anyone else tell you what to do. She possibly regretted that, because even though I may hold myself back a lot, I really took the 'other people' thing to heart. Sometimes to my detriment, sometimes to my regret, and definitely to my mother's frustration, I have never let anyone else determine my own path.
In the immortal words of John Locke "Don't tell me what I can't do!"