The life-changing magic of seeing things from a different perspective
To say that the world is undergoing a moment of extraordinary change is an understatement. We're being constantly confronted with new ideas and challenges that we got quite comfortable with not thinking about for a while. Climate change, systemic racism, trans rights, gender equality - that's just naming a few of the challenges that are now here, laid bare, begging to be addressed. And some people are not coping.
Some people are scared to admit that the way we've thought or acted in the past wasn't right, that the ideas we collectively and individually held might no longer apply to the world we live in.
You might feel like changing your mind means betraying your past self.Advertisement Advertise with NZME.
But what if it's not? What if your past self would actually be really proud of how much you've evolved and how you've opened your mind to new ideas?
That's what this is all about isn't it? All your time reading news, analysis, all your time educating yourself. You aren't educating yourself to just keep reaffirming your own beliefs, surely? You know better than that.
We're not used to seeing people admit they were wrong unless it comes charged with all kinds of negativity. It's usually charged with blame and guilt. It's not really something any of us wants to have to do.
Changing your mind is not a negative thing. Admitting you're wrong is a good thing to do - we teach it to our kids all the time, then we forget to do it ourselves.
Reclaim the positivity of changing your mind, normalise admitting when we've been wrong. There is nothing wrong with it, it doesn't make you a bad person, it simply makes you human.
There's a shift of mentality happening, en masse, and you're either going to get on with it or you're going to be left behind.
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Things that were okay in the past are no longer okay and vice versa. Your staunch belief that nothing needs to change doesn't actually hold things back from changing - change is truly afoot, with or without you. The only thing your stubbornness does is leave you behind as the world carries on forward, even if you don't like the way it's going.Advertisement Advertise with NZME.
One of the many beautiful things about your brain is how malleable it is. The brain is elastic. You will not suddenly have a stroke if you admit to yourself that you were wrong about things. In fact, the opposite will happen. You will fire off new synapses, engage your brain in new ways, steer it in a new direction. You'll give it the workout it needs, just like any other muscle, reading new things, challenging the principles it held so firmly.
Seek views that different to yours, read texts that don't necessarily meet your preconceived ideas, engage in respectful dialogue with people who have different points of view. Save for a few very notable exceptions, most people are good. It's worth trying to figure out why they think the way they do, even if we don't understand it ourselves.
Just because something doesn't bother you it does not mean it's not bothersome. Just because it doesn't offend you, it doesn't mean it's not offensive. Something can be a problem, even when it's not a problem to you. The most intelligent people in the world know how to remove themselves from the centre of a narrative, to look at it from different perspectives.
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This is what is being asked of you now: to look at things from a different perspective. It's tough, of course it is, but that's how growth happens. You did lots of that when you were a kid, constantly changing your mind about things (much to the despair of your parents, remember?), getting your brain to fire up constantly with new ideas. Then you settled. Now you're being asked not to settle.
The very quotable Boutros Boutros-Ghali once said "only stupid people don't change their minds". That's because they can't, they're too dumb to do that, to see past their long-held beliefs.
Are you too dumb to read about what's going on and not get a new outlook?
"It's the way it's always been" in a silly reason to keep the status quo and, deep down, you know it. You're not dumb. You've read this column this far because you are an intelligent person who likes to have their brain challenged, who doesn't want to settle for old, stale ideas, who understands that the world is constantly evolving. Change is uncomfortable - but it's also inevitable.
Picture yourself saying "you know what, I used to think this but now I see it differently". How liberating is that? The world does not shift from its axis, life carries on as normal and you just proved how much your brain can work through the information its given.
It's 2020 and we've got so much information at our disposal - literally all the knowledge of the world inside these tiny devices in our pockets. What a waste to not let all that information shape our mind in continuously different ways.
Having held different opinions in the past doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you a person who didn't know better - but now you do.
So what are you going to do about it?