Life: Optimized (Chapter 2, page 1 of 4)


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Chapter 2

Wait, How'd I End Up HERE?

An effective journey of self-awareness starts on the inside. It is there, rather than in personal appearance or outward trappings, that your true answers are found. Our beliefs are the basic structure of who we are, on which everything else is built. You might choose to look at them as the hangers in your closet: the means whereby we can organize, sort, inventory and view everything that we have, everything that we are, at any given moment. Additionally, using these “hangers”, we can see at a glance those things which we have outgrown or no longer use, choosing to discard them in favor of new ideas, philosophies and beliefs which “fit” us better at this moment in time. We can also see if these beliefs are truly ones we chose or if we “borrowed” them from someone else.

In order to determine our own beliefs, we, as members of the human race, need to know our own story about how we regard beliefs and how we form them.“Know thyself'” has been a common thread binding history together: through ancient cultures, through the glory of the Egyptian pharaohs, through the Greco-Roman period and on down to the present day. People have always wanted to know who they are and what their place might be in their particular worldviews. We are no exception. Today, we find more and more people looking in the mirror and asking, “Who IS this person?”

There are several factors that make up a person, including physical appearance, physical, and mental abilities, strengths, weaknesses, and beliefs. Beliefs are perhaps the most important part of starting to know who we are. They form our self-image, they boost or crash our level of self-esteem, and they manage to worm their way into every area of our daily lives. It is well known in Psychology that our personalities are formed within the first five years of life. But our beliefs are formed, changed, adopted, and discarded throughout our lives as we get new information through our senses, as we discover new things about the world and ourselves, and as we face the various challenges and problems life offers. Our beliefs, more than anything else, determine how we think about ourselves, others, and the world around us.

Our beliefs, more than anything else, determine our choice of friends. We generally choose friends who tend to think and believe similarly to us. Likewise, we tend to choose spouses who think and believe similarly to us. And our beliefs, more than anything else, determine our attitudes and actions.

Our beliefs are also the most flexible part of ourselves, and the most vulnerable. Times of challenge, of hardship, of pain, tend to either cement and confirm our beliefs or blow them out of the water entirely to where we have to start over. So what exactly are beliefs? A good place to start is the dictionary:

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