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Thursday, December 16, 2021

An Age-Old Question

Are people capable of fundamental change

I believe in free will. I consider myself an optimist. Logically, those two elements should put me in the "yes" camp - at least more often than not - when answering that age-old question. If you share those two elements with me, please tell me: How frequently do you find yourself toggling to "no"? All the time? Often? Sometimes? Rarely? Almost never? 

If you answered "rarely" or "almost never" then tell me this: What evidence have you uncovered that leads you to answer "yes" more often than "no"? If you answered anything else, your equivocation puts you closer to this fellow free will optimist aka your favorite blogger.   

Given the persona I've carefully constructed for myself, my frequent journeys into the "no" camp on this question are a source of regular cognitive dissonance. However, on days I remember to include myself among the "people" in the question, that cognitive dissonance morphs into something more unsettling. When you first looked at that question, did you include yourself as one of those "people"? Puts the question into a slightly different light, no? 

Back to my question in the second paragraph with a few twists: What evidence would you offer to support a "yes" for how you are capable of fundamental change? More pertinently, how much would others who know you well agree you are capable of fundamental change? OK free will optimists (or otherwise), those in the more "yes" than "no" column (or its opposite), any cognitive dissonance - or something more unsettling - brewing now that you are part of the question


7 comments:

  1. This is a tricky one. I had no problem including myself in the question. What I had difficulty with was defining "fundamental." Can you elaborate? What would be an example of fundamental change vs just change?

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    1. Ines; Thanks for the comment. Just a few examples of what I would call fundamental change: 1.) Moving from a scarcity mentality (i.e. life is a zero sum game) to one of abundance (i.e. there's enough to go around for everyone); 2.) Changing from someone who rarely thinks of others to being a person with consistent empathy; 3.) Shifting from needing a lot of attention to needing little attention.

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    2. Thanks Pat. None of these examples resonate with me but I appreciate your reply. On further reflection, for me it is about becoming aware and WANTING to make a change. I struggle with one of the Four Agreements: Don't take things personally. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't. As said before in another context - a work in progress.

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  2. First reaction was "no" and upon reading, I realized I was thinking of MYSELF in the "no" camp! Looks like I've got some thinkin' to do....

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    1. Anonymous; Thanks for the comment. Intriguing that you looked at the question and thought of "you" before you thought of others. My premise here is that many of us can point much more easily at the inability of others to change more readily than we can admit our own difficulty doing that exact thing. Yours truly belongs squarely in the latter group.

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  3. Good morning, Pat. Hope you're all doing well.
    Interesting topic. I always believed that I am someone who is able to make changes. Being a liberal thinking, open minded, person has lead to some interesting observations ... both from me and towards me. And while I try to remain steadfast in my thinking, I do believe that, when necessary, I can make changes. Politically, for example, I was always more person than party while always trying to keep with the mainstays of being a liberal. Recently however - maybe 4-5 years or so - it has become necessary to stay stronger in my convictions, and voice them when necessary, despite what others may think. Sometimes staying silent is the larger offense.
    And I do agree with some of the examples you gave to Ines. Never being one who was shy, since my retirement I have found that attention from my wife and my family - especially my grandsons - is more than enough. Maybe not the biggest change, but change just the same.
    Be well,
    Bob

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    1. Hey Bob; Thanks for two comments in the same day! And thanks also for reading and then using one of the three examples I gave to Ines as a springboard for your own thinking about a small change you feel you've made. I limited my response to Ines to just three for brevity's sake. There are, of course, many more examples of things that would fall under the rubric of fundamental change vs. what I would term more habit-based shifts in behavior, e,g. stopping smoking or drinking, losing weight, starting a meditation practice etc. Those kinds of changes were NOT what I was aiming for in my inquiry.

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