Don’t Fool Yourself

I look in the mirror. Whether good or bad, I only see what I want to see. My eyes only see what they have been trained to see. Everything else mysteriously gets dismissed. I find it amazing that a still image rarely matches what I saw in the mirror.

I take another bite. Today, the food looks good. It is pleasant to the senses and delights the palate. Sadly, it is not the best choice of food from a nutritional standpoint. Therefore, I will tell myself to only eat a little. Tomorrow, I am going to have a different opinion. Tomorrow, I am going to look back and wonder what I was thinking. Why did I pick that and why did I eat so much of it?

It is Sunday afternoon. I am feeling a little tired and decide to take a short nap (probably from all the food I ate). I set the timer for twenty minutes and get up two hours later. What happened?

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.

Richard Feynman

It is easy for me to look around and mentally note everybody else’s flaws. Why is that person so self-delusional? Don’t they know how foolish they look? Why do they eat such garbage and so much of it? Why aren’t they more active? Instead, they are just wasting away the time God has given them.

How is it that I am not so quick to notice my own flaws? In the moment, I acquiesce and give in to my base desires. These are the same desires that I am quick to notice and question in others. Yet, I have fooled myself to such an extent that I can no longer see these same behaviors in myself. The first principle is to not fool myself. Unfortunately, I have broken this principle too many times to count.

How do I improve knowing that I am so easily fooled?

  1. Have a plan. Without one, I am lost.
  2. Have a partner. I need someone to hold me accountable. Even more important, I must listen when someone calls me out.
  3. Check my ego. My ego says I can get away without consequences. It wants me to compare myself to others in a way that only points to my perceived goodness and to their inherent flaws.

To not fool myself is no easy task. Yet, it can be done. It requires vigilance and an honest appraisal of my actions.

Questions, Answers, and Political Divisions

Tony Robbins said, “The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life.” It is such a beautiful idea, but what happens when questions are not allowed?

We live in a world where everything from food, freedom of religion and speech, and what can go into a person’s body has become political. If you find yourself in the minority, your freedom is at stake, your ability to make a conscientious decision becomes limited and can even be taken away. And your questions? Questions to those on the opposite end of the spectrum are frowned upon, condescended, and even censored. No one wants to live under a tyrant, and yet many of us have no problem tyrannizing those who dare disagree with us.

I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.

Richard Feynman

Are the days of open dialogue gone? Do we no longer try to understand the differences of others? It is far easier to shut down the voices opposition than it is to come to an amiable solution. Rather than have a moral backbone, would it be preferable to go over to the majority where there is less opposition? Rather than trying to formulate the questions that determine the quality of our lives, should we only rely on the answers given to us that cannot be challenged?

I am not saying that one side is right and the other is wrong. What I am saying is that we should do the research and try to come up with the questions that can lead to improvement. We might not be able to find the answers now, but at least we are willing to seek them out.


Feature photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash