Belief

“The belief in a thing makes it happen.” ~Frank Lloyd Wright

Belief is a powerful guiding force in our lives. We can accomplish very little if we do not believe in what we are doing. Our work, our relationships it all seems hollow, void of purpose, when we don’t believe in it.

When we believe in something we accept its premise and possibility. We choose to acknowledge and accept it as truth, regardless of proof. Belief is the simplest element of conscious thought; a mental manifestation or representation of what we hold in our mind as truth.

Belief transcends our own understanding. It is present throughout our ever changing knowledge and opinion as a thread connecting all our observations, inferences and experiences, defining our truest nature. The depth of our belief may change during the course of our lives as our understanding expands, but the core of our belief can never be worn.

In a way our belief is a reflection of our soul. A force of great mystery, exerting influence over our conscious selves, sometimes defying logic or reason.

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” ~Muhammad Ali

Our belief is the motivating force, driving us to accomplish many things. When we choose to truly believe that love, not hate; creation, not destruction; balance and order, not chaos are the prevailing forces in the universe, humanity can achieve greatness in our world.

4 Comments

  1. I’d be careful to make the distinction between “belief in oneself” and “belief in something”.

    Believing in yourself is critical to success, I absolutely agree. Instilling confidence in an individual is imperative for enabling that person to communicate and interact effectively in the world.

    However, belief in an idea is a whole other ball game. At times it can, and has been, incredibly dangerous and misguided. Belief in a predetermined idea can prevent the consideration of superior solutions. If citizens willingly and blindly believe what an authority figure tells them, without proof, it creates an environment where propaganda, prejudice (from the latin word pre-judgement) and manipulation by those in power can easily and readily occur.

    Proof, in the form of empirical evidence, is essential to any defensible conclusion. Approximately a third to half of Americans do not “believe” in anthropogenic climate change. However the evidence supporting the conclusion that “yes, the planet’s climate system is warming” and “yes humans, through the act of expelling greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere primarily through the combustion of fossil fuels are responsible for this warming” has been replicated to redundant levels. It has been upheld by every scientific organization in the world and over 97% of climate scientists agree on the conclusions asserted (see “Expert Credibility in Climate Science from the National Academy of Sciences” http://www.pnas.org/content/107/27/12107.full). It shouldn’t even be a question of belief. The proper way to phrase the question would be “do you agree with the conclusions of the science presented”.

    If you believed you were healthy but 97 out of 100 neurosurgeons you consulted told you you needed brain surgery immediately to remove a malignant tumor, would you tell them “neh, I’m fine” or start getting prepped for the operating table?

    Also I’d strongly disagree with the assertion that belief is the primary motivating force. Old lingering beliefs stand in the way of progress. People used to believe that the sun went around the earth and was 17 miles away from our planet. Logic, reason, the hypothetical-deductive method, science, mathematics have been at the cornerstone of advancement, both technological and social. It is work*, not belief, that will continue to improve humanity. Work, with the recognition of the humanity in the other, towards a more just, equitable society.

    *work as defined as concrete actions taken. Not necessarily a 9-5 but rather the active engagement in creating change desired.

  2. I am referring primarily to intangible beliefs and virtues rather than belief in facts and figures such as the distance of the sun from our planet. Nor am I referring to manipulation of mentality as in the case of a wayward authority figure or delusional zealot.

    Facts and figures change constantly as our methods of measurement and analysis improve, but the beliefs I am discussing are core values of the human experience. Those essential elements of our nature which cannot be compromised for any reason.

    Empirical data can, at times be misleading, and unless you are repeating the experiments for yourself, you often take the word of an unknown source. This is especially dangerous with the dawn of modern communication where there is very little

    Manipulation of the mindset of an individual or group is indeed conducive to an environment of greed, corruption and selfishness. Not a doubt about that in my mind. It is easy to sway the opinions of the masses, however to change their core beliefs is another matter entirely. The psychology of behavior shows us that people can commit unspeakable acts without remorse simply because they are persuaded to do so. See the Milgram experiment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

    To clarify, the “belief” I mean is an unwavering, internal force, essential to motivation. It is the precursor to all change, progress and work (in whatever form). We believe that such a change is possible and we believe in the depth of our soul that such a change should be made for the good of the world around us.

    I have no qualms about scientific progress or the importance of facts. These are keys to progress and human achievement. They enable us to build our knowledge beyond the course of our individual lives ensuring each successive generation is more aware of the impact they have on others and their environment.

    I do think there is a significant difference in merely accepting facts on the analysis of data and truly believing in an ideal. I can accept a myriad conclusions based on what I observe, what others tell me and what I can gain in books etc. What I believe in and what I believe I am capable of achieving is a separate part of my being.

  3. Excellent clarification. If I had to have guessed before I would’ve assumed you were talking about something along those lines in regards to belief and a belief system but given the open ended nature of the word and how many contexts it can be used in I had to say something.

    And I completely agree, empirical evidence can be manipulated for a variety of agendas. It’s prudent to always maintain a healthy dose of skepticism. There’s a reason why the coinage “lies, damn lies and statistics” has become so widespread. It underscores the importance of independent expert review and repeat trials. If another research group can follow your methodology in the experiment and come to the same conclusion that adds significant credibility to the research. It’s also a large part of why a lot of scientists are very uncomfortable talking about what we “know”; they talk in probabilities with error margins. And it reinforces how “research” by partisan think tanks (e.g. the Cato Institute on the right and the Liberal Institute on the left) should be taken with a heavy grain of salt, if at all.

    And I definitely agree that a belief system, or a set of core values, is critical to establish and refine over the course of a lifetime to lead a fulfilling life. WHY do you do what you do? WHY do you want the things you want? Happiness is a product of action. (at the risk of sounding “preachy”…) Don’t search for happiness directly; it leads to a shallow and materialistic mindset and ultimately an unfulfilled existence. Instead, establish your values and figure out how to make that change reality. The happiness will come.

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