“I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no past at my back.”
I get goosebumps everytime I read Emerson’s incredible words. That’s because they express a profound idea that I’m constantly trying to keep as a part of myself, and that is the habit of always questioning any authority, rules, traditions or beliefs and not taking anything for granted.
That is not easy to do, because the tendency to maintain the status quo manifests itself everywhere. There are countless examples in history of people who proposed ideas that at the time were fervently rejected, but now they are accepted as obvious truths.
This also applies on a much smaller scale. To list just a few examples, maybe your personal trainer gave you a diet tip 2 years ago that you still assume is true, or you think that once you start reading a book you have to finish it cover to cover. Or maybe you think that as an adult it’s much more difficult to learn new things, therefore you’re staying in the comfort zone of whatever you already know. My point is that our daily lives are filled with unquestioned assumptions like these that might act as a camouflage to opportunities or interesting things.
Treat Reality as Negotiable
Don’t be afraid to question everything. Ask ‘Why?’ repeatedly, and you’ll be surprised how many times your final answer will simply be ‘It’s always been done this way’, or ‘Everyone does it like that.’ Ultimately, most of what we’re doing is based on just a fragile collection of socially reinforced beliefs.
Dare to Be Naive
Jason Silva is one of the most creative people I know. He recently had an interview with Tom Bilyeu on Inside Quest. The entire interview is captivating and definitely worth listening to (and it also inspired the title of this post), but I’ve specifically extracted a 2 minutes-long excerpt where they talk about this idea.
To add audio excerpt
I highly recommend reading Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens. It’s everything you’d expect from Hitchens, who has made a career from being a contrarian and disagreeing in entertaining and profound ways.
Another great book very relevant to this idea is Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World by Adam Grant.