Human beings automatically grow older. But we don’t automatically grow up or wake up. These four things will prevent you from doing either.
- Only take in things that confirm your world view. The one thing that will prevent you from growing as an individual is to take in only information that confirms your existing worldview. You can pretend that there aren’t other ideas and other opinions, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other truths that are every bit as valid as yours (or maybe more valid). If you are never exposed to new ideas, you are never going to grow beyond where you are now.
- Defend your world view at all costs. Entrenching yourself in your beliefs is like allowing cement to set. The more you defend your beliefs, the more difficult it is for you to take in new ideas, new opinions, and new truths. The more vociferously you defend your worldview, the more difficult it is for you to change; it looks inconsistent, sketchy. Once set, it’s harder to break free of a worldview that doesn’t serve you.
- Don’t try to understand other beliefs and positions. There is a reason other people share different beliefs and opinions. The circumstances of their lives were different. They were infected by a different set of memes. They have had a very different set of experiences. You can only grow when you try to understand how others came to believe what they believe. If you had been born to the same circumstances and shared the same experiences, you would have the same beliefs. When you wake up, you will be able to take another’s point of view and understand why they have it.
- Be judgmental and show no compassion. Judging others for their beliefs, opinions, and ideas that differ from yours is a recipe for stagnation. That judgment can make you feel that you and your beliefs are superior. You grow when you give up being judgmental. You wake up when you are compassionate instead.
The more open you are to understanding, the more you will grow. The willingness to explore another person’s beliefs and take their position allows you to develop a greater understanding of the world, and it provides you with more options for making a difference. This is how you wake up.
You can grow older without ever really growing up, and you can grow older without developing the ability to take another’s position. If you can’t remember the last time you changed a long-held belief, you may need to focus on growing up and waking up.