Category Archives: Philosophy

Are Your Fears Real or Imaginary?

The innate intelligence present in small children amazes me. They have an uncanny ability to cut through the B.S. and get right to the truth. I don’t recall having thoughts like the one in the story below. Do you remember thinking this way?

Around midnight last night, my 4-year-old son was sobbing at our bedroom door. My wife got up to comfort him. She went to his room to snuggle and talk with him in his own bed. This is the story my wife told me this morning.

“What’s wrong buddy? What are you scared of?” she asked him.

“My imagination… It’s too big. It scares me.”, he said.

He wasn’t able to describe what he imagined that frightened him.

Before she left his room, she asked him, “Would you like me to leave the door open a little?”

He replied, “No, the stuff I’m scared of is in my imagination and that’s in my head, so leaving the door open won’t help.”

OMG! My 4-year-old knows his fears are inside his head and that’s where he must deal with them. Having the door open was an outside solution that wouldn’t help.

It took me most of my adult life to realize this basic truth. Did I know it when I was four too? If so, how did I unlearn it?

Almost all of our fears and all of our worries are imaginary. If we can change what we imagine, we can change reality.

God, Heaven, and Other Controversial Beliefs

When I posted 10 Things I learned from my 4-Year-Old, it started a flame war in the comments section and I believe it is an opportunity to write about beliefs.

It may surprise some of you that dogmatic religious beliefs aren’t for me and my son is free to believe anything he wishes.

  • I was raised a Seventh Day Adventist and I once believed the things they taught (they told me my dog wouldn’t go to heaven because it didn’t have a soul and eating bacon could land me in hell)
  • Then I believed I was an atheist
  • Then I believed I was an agnostic
  • Then I believed in New Age teachings
  • Then I looked at Lutheranism

None of these belief systems – as a whole – work for me.

I intended the post to inspire people to think and ask more questions and many readers were inspired. However, some commenters flamed me as an ignorant brainwasher of children, and I empathize with them, because I used to be a lot like them. In the past I believed anyone that believed in God was a weak-minded ignorant fool and I usually told them so.

I used to hold this belief – I believe I must be right. Combined with atheism, this was the most destructive belief I have ever held. It led me to listen only to people that agreed with me. It led me to repeat mistakes without learning from them. It led me into an us vs. them mentality. It led me to insult and impugn people who didn’t agree with me. For me, atheism and a need to be right led to a grander myopia than my Adventist beliefs. The moment I shed those beliefs my life permanently changed and I gained incredible personal power. I saw a new reality full of new ideas and new possibilities.

So now I have decided that I don’t need to be an Adventist, an Atheist, an Agnostic, a New Ager, or a Lutheran, but I can learn things from them all. I have decided that I am not a belief system, but an independent being free to choose the beliefs that work best for me. I can read the Bhagavad Gita and discuss it with Hindus, I can read blogs written by Buddhists, I can discuss the teachings of Christ with a Christian, and I can discuss the war in Iraq with a Muslim. For me, beliefs are powerful tools I can use to achieve results, so why limit myself to just one set. If I were to accept one rigid set of beliefs and never change them, I believe I would be trapped believing the same old things and expecting different results. Insanity!

I’m getting great results with my current beliefs, but I have a big goal – I want to help as many people as possible realize their dreams. I believe achieving this goal will require learning and applying powerful new beliefs that I haven’t yet discovered.

I do believe in God and that belief seems to work very well for me right now. Maybe it doesn’t work for you, and that’s okay with me. But if you are open to the possibility of anything, I believe you will learn far more than if your mind is closed to certain possibilities.

I tried to persuade my son to believe that our cat (Maui) was okay and happy in heaven, so he would think about Maui’s death in the most positive possible way. But of course, the truth is, I don’t know what happened to the life-force that allowed Maui to meow, hunt, run, and purr for the last 18 years. I’m guessing his life-force just changed form, like liquid water turns to vapor.

My point is – My 4-year-old taught me not to accept overly simple answers to big complex questions. I will keep asking big questions so maybe someday I can learn the truth.

For more information on changing your beliefs see Steve Pavlina’s blog. It describes it far better than I can. See these podcasts specifically.
Overcoming Fear
Beyond Religion
The True Nature of Reality

P.S. Don’t bother putting insults and flames in the comments. I’ll delete them. If you want to have a meaningful discussion, disagree without denigrating.

5 Empowering Beliefs

For me, these beliefs are newborn infants I am swaddling and nursing to life.
I believe…

1. I become what I think about

  • Do I think about wealth or poverty?
  • Do I think about vengeance or justice?
  • Do I think about freedom or control?
  • Do I think about winning or losing?
  • Do I think about war or peace?
  • Do I think about success or failure?
  • Do I think about living or dying?
  • Do I think about what I intend or what I fear?
  • Do I think about goals or obstacles?
  • Do I think about illness or health?

My thoughts are mine alone. I am responsible for my thoughts. I choose my thoughts, so I become what I choose to become.

2. People (including me) are my greatest resource

  • When I disagree with someone, do I withdraw, attack, or listen and learn something?
  • Can I set aside my pride and ask for help?
  • Do I treat others the way I would like to be treated?
  • Do I listen empathically to people, including myself?
  • Do I celebrate other people’s successes, or envy them?
  • Do I help others and expect nothing in return?
  • Do I ask others to join with me to reach shared goals?
  • Do I reward people for their efforts, including myself?

3. I really don’t know much of anything… yet

  • What am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • How did I get here?
  • What is the universe? Why does it exist?
  • Why can I feel emotion?
  • Why can I create?
  • Why am I conscious?
  • Why do I dream?
  • Why is the universe so large? Why not just one sun and one planet? Why the rest of it?
  • Why can I learn? Why am I not pre-programmed?
  • Why do I intuitively know the answer to some questions? Where does that come from?
  • Does time exist? Can I ever experience the past? Can I ever experience the future? Am I stuck only experiencing the present?

The more questions I ask, the more I realize how little I know. I find this belief empowering because I no longer feel the need to know everything, just the desire to know more. There is no end to what I can discover. While I believe I really don’t know much of anything, I also have a strange intuition that the answers to all my questions reside within my consciousness and all I need to do is remember the answer.

4. I can change my beliefs

  • Scientists once believed that man could not build a flying machine
  • Academics once believed the world was flat
  • Theologians once believed that cats were possessed by evil spirits

I once believed that I had to pick a set of beliefs (religious, political, philosophical, spiritual, economic) and hold on to them like the breath of life – that I had to defend my beliefs and justify my beliefs. I believed those beliefs had to fit into some pre-defined category. At times, I even believed it would be okay to kill for my beliefs. Paging back through my memories, I realize that my beliefs evolved as I learned and matured, so if my beliefs stop changing I have likely stopped learning and maturing too. Being open to new beliefs is to be open to growth. This belief doesn’t mean I should change my beliefs, it means I can choose to change them.

5. The results I get from life are the direct result of my beliefs

  • If I believe I have something to fear, that’s what I will get – fear
  • If I believe it won’t last – it won’t
  • If I believe I can do it – I will
  • If I believe I am independent – I am free
  • If I believe I am wealthy – I will not want
  • If I believe in others – their creativity will flourish
  • If I believe I can change my beliefs – I will grow

If you aren’t getting the results you desire or expect, try on some new beliefs, look in the mirror, and see if you like what you see.

For more see Steve Pavlina’s podcast #5