Everyone has opinions, because the barriers to entry are very low. Sometimes you form opinions really fast, like when you watch a movie for 15 minutes and decide you don’t want to waste the next two hours of your life. Some opinions require a lot more time and consideration. We rarely have all the necessary facts floating around in our head to develop well reasoned opinions. We need to read, contemplate, and discuss. These are some thoughts on how we form our opinions and beliefs.
Let Your Mind Work On It
When I blogged back in the day, I’d usually sit down at a keyboard and type out whatever thoughts were in my head at that moment. It was very stream of consciousness, and many of my opinions only went skin deep. Shallow opinions require shallow thoughts. As I think about more complex issues, I’m enjoying contemplating them. Instead of sitting down and expecting all my thoughts to go brain to keys to screen, sometimes I have to pause, and let those thoughts bounce around in my brain for a while before I formulate my opinion.
Space to Be Creative
Viewing writing as an “art” has made me think a lot about creativity. Where do our unique perspectives come from? How can we say things in a way that speak to people? It requires time and effort to put them on paper. For some people it’s the effort part that is difficult. Like anything, it takes work, and that requires some level of dedication and willingness to push forward.
I’ve really been focused on the time aspect. If you only give yourself 10 minutes to write something, there’s a good chance it will be short and shallow. I rarely have time to sit down for hours and just write, so I end up spreading my writing out over the week. A few minutes here, a few minutes there. What I’m finding is that whatever topics are occupying my mind, they tend to bounce around even when I’m not writing. Then when I sit down to write, I have some fresh thoughts and angles to explore.
Understanding the World Through Headlines
The pace that we live life is so fast, I think we have a hard time slowing down to learn. We want to be told the answers, but we don’t want to take the time to understand the answers. The funny thing about not making time to understand, is that we have more information at our fingertips than ever before. When life moves fast, and we feel like we have all the information, it can be easy to trick ourselves into thinking we know things we don’t.
This is embodied by Facebook. We inform ourselves by reading headlines. We scroll and scroll and think we grasp an issue because a meme told us who is right or wrong. There’s a constant flow of information in front of us. Our desire for instant gratification is sapping us of the energy needed to form deep and substantive opinions. Instead of knowing a few things really well, we know a tiny bit about a whole bunch of things.
Don’t settle for shallow. Beliefs worth having are worth knowing deeply.
Prioritizing What I’m Consuming
I’ve had to make some conscious decisions about what I’m spending my time learning. For example, I’ve always enjoyed politics, but I’ve had to draw a line recently. Election years always suck me back in a little, but I find the constant jibber-jabber on TV and the media obnoxious. I’ve limited my consuming of political media a lot. I find discussions about ideology more interesting than political partisanship.
I’m reading a couple books right now. One about men and happiness, and another about having successful marriages. If you know some good Christian podcasts, point me in the right direction.
I’m glad I started writing on a regular basis. I’m enjoying the process of sitting down with my keyboard and hashing out my thoughts and feelings. Even if it’s not something we all post publicly, I think there’s a lot of value in forcing yourself to put your thoughts on paper. If you’ve never journaled, or written down prayers, I highly recommend it.