If we’re looking for a quick, easy way to improve our lives regardless of our circumstances, we can start by spending less time focusing our attention on what we want to impart to someone else, and way more on trying to truly understand their perspective.
Egos hear a perspective and then either agree or disagree with it almost instantaneously and purely out of habit. It’s a heuristic error where we’re using a pattern rather than presence and awareness.
Where we see the echo-chamber effect of this error most visibly is often with politics, where almost everyone is arguing when almost none have ever once researched the platforms of the parties being discussed.
In almost every political debate, almost no one truly examines their own views. Instead, they are engaged in an exercise of bashing their preconceived ideas into the preconceived ideas of someone else in what amounts to a game of mindless ping pong. No one is listening to gain a better understanding of the world.
A person living with clarity will more often listen to people more openly. Maybe they’ll learn new reasons to agree with their current view. Or maybe they’ll hear reasons to change their view. But unless we are conscious enough to stay aware of our own cognitive biases, we will make ourselves impervious to learning if there is learning to be done.
If we’re not listening and we’re not flexible and open minded with our views, then we’re in ego and we will suffer. We won’t have discussions seeking solutions, we will have endless arguments seeking victory.
Our egos views will be necessarily hard and solid and inflexible. But that also makes them brittle and breakable. But if we’re flexible, it becomes possible to wrap ourselves around an opposing idea in a way that works for us.
By doing that we can really look at an idea fairly. Then, it if is better, we can incorporate it, or we can even completely adopt it. We can maintain our old view or change it depending on what actually works. That provides us more freedom than just historically aligning with what is often nothing more than an accidental identity.
If we can remove ourselves from the process, it is possible to listen to people as an activity unto itself.
If we’re not listening for a purpose; if we’re not listening to understand; if we’re not listening to see how their opinions compare to our opinions; and if we’re not listening to accomplish anything like make someone feel better, then we have no agenda. Then we are listening.
No agenda. This is what it is to be aware. This is how we get to witness the beauty and elegance that is this incredible world. We just need to be quieter inside.
The opposite of quiet is noisy. Noisy is us talking to ourselves about what other people should have done, or should have said, or how they should have acted, or should have thought. Those are all judgments made in a state of ego.
If we externalize that by using social media to tell other people how upset we are because of those things, then we’re now echoing our internal suffering externally —which only makes it last longer and get worse.
If we’re saying something to ourselves, or the person we’re upset with, or if we’re gossiping with someone else, we’re noisy inside and we will suffer for it. But.
If we’re not back-talking in our head or in person, then the energy that forms our experiences is free to focus on listening. And that’s when we hear the things that help us know what we should really say or do, or not say, or not do.
In many cases better listening will expose that people only appear to be disagreeing with people they actually agree with.
Remember —as beings we either input the world or output opinions about it. And the world will always include features we do not enjoy. So, as Paul McCartney suggested, it is best to just let it be.
We do not have to think, or share thoughts about our dissatisfaction. We can be active in our quietness. And if we create the space and remain open and patient, we will eventually hear the sort of wisdom that changes us.
peace (and quiet). s
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.