When I was growing up, someone told me that caffeine stunts your growth, and that’s why kids shouldn’t drink coffee. So, I grew up believing that. I don’t think it’s actually true; kids certainly drink lots of caffeinated beverages now and don’t seem to be hobbits.
I also believed that “if you work hard, you’ll do okay in life.” I don’t know if anyone ever said it quite that plainly, but that’s what I grew up believing. Maybe you do, too — it’s a pretty common belief.
Lately, I got to thinking where this belief came from. It seems to be generally true, but could it have been invented, like the “coffee stunts your growth” bit was invented to keep me from drinking something that wasn’t good for me?
Could the belief about hard work have been invented just to keep me from getting too lazy? No parent wants to raise a kid to be a slacker or shirker!
Why wasn’t I taught that if I work hard at something I love, life will be awesome! That’s what I believe now! But, unfortunately, many of us believe that we have to work hard (often at something that is “the grind”) to just get by. And getting by is all we should expect out of life. Ack! And we wonder why depression is so common!
What if other beliefs you have were sort of given to you under false pretenses? Parents often say stuff just to shut their kids up or to keep them in line. Some religious beliefs originate this way. But do you want to spend your whole life being quiet and in line? Would your world fall apart if you examined some of your beliefs and found them flawed? Would it be so bad if your world fell apart? If your world is based on limiting “shut up and stay in line” beliefs, it should fall apart! It will sooner or later — why else do you think teens rebel? But after the rebellion, comes the conformity. I wonder how much of what we do is just us conforming to society’s view of the “adult way to live.” I’m afraid many of us kissed creativity good-bye at age 12, and started down the rocky road of conform-or-die.
But do we die? No. The best musicians don’t conform at all. Some become popular, and some don’t, but the best ones are creative and unique. Artists, ditto. Blue-collar workers? Oil riggers? Office workers and number-crunchers? Why not!?! There is an outlet for creativity and “out of line” thinking in any job, and if there isn’t much room, then do it lots in your personal life. Although I should mention that I am not advocating “creative accounting!” 🙂
To kick-start this process, think about diving into something creative, and be aware of what beliefs pop up as a result. Let’s think about starting ballet lessons (even if we have no real plans to do it). What belief pops up? That adults can’t do that? That we’re not flexible enough? Who told you that! Have you seen what yoga-people can do? Lack of flexibility is no excuse. Getting older is no excuse — some people in their 60’s run marathons. And do yoga. (Google “adult ballet classes” and see how many hits you get. I got 6.7 million.) Now try this thought process with a creative thing that you might actually like to try, and see what silly thoughts pop up.
Look your beliefs in the face and see if they have any good backing. Lots of them don’t — we just sort of believe them because someone told us that once and that seems to be what everyone believes. Don’t get all up-tight about it — have fun evaluating your beliefs, where they came from, and how messed up they might be! 🙂 It’s not a crisis, it’s a chance to truly rebel! And while you’re at it, remake all the worst, boring parts of life.