Dear readers, I know my blog posts have been rather sporadic in recent months and this is in part due to the fact that I am working on a book, in addition to all my other projects. In an effort to be more focused and deliberate about what I want to achieve this year I am going to stop writing a blog for the time being. So this will be my last post for some time. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read the thoughts I have shared. And now my final post for the foreseeable future.
What is truth? Truth has become increasingly difficult to determine for many reasons. We have more access to information than ever before but also more demands for our attention. All around us are those who seek to influence or even manipulate the way we think and feel. All around us are images and messages prompting us to believe and act a certain way. Our attention is drawn to a particular crisis while similar situations are occurring in other places remain ignored. How do we sort through all of this data to determine what is true?
Perhaps a good place to start is to recognise that differing ideas can both be true. For example, one might say we are living through difficult times but it could also be true that this is the best time in human history to be alive. When we define what something is we also then assume what it is not. So much of our truth comes from the way we choose to see the world. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Is there a reason we are told that one thing belongs in this box and another thing belongs in that box even though they look the same?
Philosophy has shown us that there is little that we can know with any certainty. Or as Socrates was credited as saying: The more you learn, the more you realise how little you know. Then we have our unconscious biases making it even more difficult to determine if what we think and believe is the truth. I point all of this out to help you recognise that most of what we accept as truth is actually just belief or conjecture. When we recognise this we can stop trying to defend ourselves and make others wrong. We can stop judging and concern ourselves with what is true for us.
Finding your own truth will help you make choices more in line with your values. This will support your happiness and will help you avoid actions taken out of fear. Clarifying your own truth will help you find your unique path in the world and help avoid distraction or manipulation. This experience will be far more likely to fill you with a sense of purpose than any of the typical recommendations proposed or endorsed by your family, culture or society, but it isn’t easy. Finding your truth takes some effort. It’s easier to take the blue pill and accept everything you’re presented with at face value.
What will you do? Will you work to find your truth or do you believe that ignorance is bliss? Or maybe both of these are true. The most unhappy people who come to me for coaching are unhappy because they followed the recommendations of others instead of trying to discover what was true for them. Even though they checked all the boxes of actions and goals that they were told would lead to happiness things didn’t turn out as they had hoped. Learn from others but don’t expect anyone to provide you with the right answers. Remember what the majority of people think and believe has been wrong many times. I believe that each of us has a unique path to follow in life. So don’t follow others. That path will never be the best one for you.
I will leave you with this verse from the Tao Ti Ching which is one of the many books in which I have found my truth:
When the greatness of Tao is present action arises from one’s own heart.
When the greatness of Tao is absent action comes from the rules of “kindness” and “justice”
If you need rules to be kind and just, if you act virtuous, this is a sure sign that virtue is absent.
Thus we see the great hypocrisy.