The Joy of Being Wrong

There is nothing more invigorating that realizing that I am wrong about something.  Learning that you are wrong means that there is room to grow, that there are new lessons to discover.

Never be afraid of being wrong.

I have been reminded of this lesson, numerous times over the past year.  I’ll think I have it all figured out, then learn that I really knew nothing, or only a partial-truth, and the slate is wiped clean.  It’s time to discover something even more amazing.

Recently, I found something I had written a year ago, with my questions and ideas on religion and spirituality.  When I wrote it, I didn’t know that my answers would be more questions, and that I what I would discover would be more amazing than I imagined.

And I still know so little.

I also recently commented on a blog that was discussing a political issue.  I generally stay out of politics (here are my thoughts on politics).  I voiced a rather strong opinion, and soon after someone else voiced an opposing opinion.  They had some good points.  I then mentally toned down my opinion, at least, and gave consideration to their views.  Most political discussions leave me with a headache, and a great big “I don’t know.”

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that it’s important not to identify myself with my beliefs.  They’re just ideas, just my hypotheses for the meaning of life.  If they never changed, I would go at least 35 more years, without anything exciting and wonderful happening.

To disagree with my opinion, is not to disagree with me.  I am not my interpretation of the world.

So, in the spirit of embracing change, I found some posts that I wrote, that I no longer wholly agree with:

  • My nutritional theories have evolved.  I now follow a somewhat paleo diet and avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • In some places, air conditioning may well be necessary for maintaining sanity.
  • My morning routine has evolved as well, many times and in many ways. I find that it’s best to let it change, when my needs change.  It now consists of my bike ride to work (preceeded by some quiet time, when I get up early enough!).
  • Instead of following housework routines, I delegate most of it to Rob (and live in such a way that less housework is required).
  • I thought some simple steps could prepare you for crazy, stressful times.  I didn’t know what crazy stressful times were!
  • Instead of finding diversions from arguments, we listen to each other and reach understanding (with no winner or loser).
  • Rather than tolerating others’ views, I try to find a place of understanding.  (Also anti-materialism is no longer my “dominant characteristic!”)
  • Rather than relying on small adventures to get us away from a life that didn’t work, we have made our life one big adventure.
  • Instead of waiting a couple years to unveil our secret plan–which was to move to a town on Lake Michigan and live aboard a little longer into the fall–we took the plunge into a new life a LOT sooner!
  • I no longer believe that happiness lies in finding the right amount of possessions.  Neither consuming nor minimizing can bring happiness.  It’s a lot deeper than that.

Wonderful things have come out of the knowledge that I know nothing.  And I am sure that there is much more, waiting to be discovered.

What views have you had, that you have decided to abandon?

(Feel free to include links to posts, if you have any!)
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36 thoughts on “The Joy of Being Wrong

  1. Great post, and thanks for sharing. I feel like I’ve learned so much this year, and I know that next year I will learn even more…and every year after that I hope. My views change, and grow and develop too. The most important thing is being open to change, I feel : )

  2. I learned there a lot of gray areas in life. And that people are not judging you / thinking about silly things like say, what you wore nearly as much as you think they might. most people have their own junk to think about. When someone is rude to you a lot of times it isn’t personal. I could go on…

  3. This is such a great post! I love what you said about air conditioning! So true!! I also love the part about making life one big adventure.

    I’ve been wrong about so many things over the years, but here’s a few: my views on religion are so different than when I was growing up. I went from being an evangelical Protestant teenager, to a Catholic with Buddhist tendencies adult! But I find I experience God best when I’m outside on a walk by myself or sitting among some beautiful part of nature. I used to avidly decorate my house for Christmas and now I have just one small box of décor, and I am giving cash to everyone this year instead of trying to figure out what presents to give to way too many people! I was a hoarder and collector of stuff well into my adult years, and now live with minimal possessions.

    • Hi, Sandy!

      Yes, a/c is a marvelous invention, when you live down south. 😉

      I love how you say “Catholic with Buddhist tendencies.” I’ve tried out a gazillion religious philosophies, and I’ve always found something to take from them, even if there is a lot I choose to leave. I find the search for truth to be fascinating and exciting, and I hope I don’t find all of the answers until I’m a VERY old lady, in the nursing home!

  4. Hi Bethany! I really enjoyed this post and as always your honesty about your own growth. When we all stop pretending like we know the answers to just about anything 🙂 then we can finally be open and willing to learn incredible things. My life has taken so many detours as well…but as you said, they all turned out to be the perfect thing I needed to do and be at the time. You’ve done an AMAZING job at growing….and just think how far you’ll go in the next year? ~Kathy

  5. Love this post! My views have changed a lot in the past year. I used to believe that in order to be successful I needed the job with the impressive title. Then, I noticed others that were successful in a different way – doing the things they loved. That was the beginning of a big change for me. I no longer have the job with the impressive title and I’m a step closer to doing what I love. I look forward to seeing the other changes coming my way. 🙂

  6. I too am going through tremendous changes this year, divorcing after 32 years of marriage and moving to another town. I have to say, I’m frightened and excited at the same time. Even as a person who considers herself to be a minimalist, I’m having a hard time giving up my huge beautiful house (ex will keep it) and moving into a tiny apt., but it will provide me other things such as time to travel and make new friends, maybe volunteer or even possibly change jobs. I’ve lived my life always thinking that change is for the good, so I keep that in mind. You have had quite a year and I admire you and enjoy following your life.

    • Thank you for sharing, Dusty!

      First off, I think that the difficult times can be a blessing, because we don’t often make changes until things become intolerable. Otherwise, we’re content to stay in mediocrity.

      Making such a change is definitely an emotional roller coaster. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have days of absolute elation, and days where you feel overwhelmed. It’s definitely an adventure, though, and definitely worth it.

      • you’re absolutely right. I’ve even started praying (and that’s not me at all). A friend gave me a prayer to say for my soon to be ex as well, praying for him to be healthy and prosperous, etc. I say this everything morning and believe it or not, it seems to be working. Much better than thinking about running him over with my car. Maybe there’s something to this prayer stuff.

  7. I do have another comment, I think being a minimalist can certainly bring you happiness. I have a friend who is constantly shopping. Well, with our current government situation, she is only working 4 days a week. She is so stressed that this will go on for a long time and that she won’t be able to make ends meet just working 4 days a week and on top is now thinking what would happen if she would lose her job. What would she do? Being a minimalist, I don’t have that type of problem. If I don’t have the money, I don’t have the money, it’s no big deal. For example, she and I went to a farmer’s mkt recently. I spent about $4 and bought enough veggies for the week. She spent about $15 and although I haven’t asked her yet, I’ll be if I ask her, she tell me she threw away most of it cause it went bad. So, I do think being a minimalist brings you peace of mind which is turn brings you happiness. Oh, and AC certainly helps.

    • Good points, Dusty!

      I think there is something to be said for having less left to lose. And your friend is lucky–I have two friends who are only working 0 days a week right now. 😦

      I’ve definitely found that having less stuff has meant that we have less stress.

      Still, for me, minimalism by iteself didn’t bring happiness. I was living a life that wasn’t working for me, and simplifying–while it helped a lot–wasn’t nearly enought to alleviate the stress. I think that if everything else is in order, though, minimalism might be the one thing that makes it all come together. 🙂

      Definitely food for thought. I would love to read other readers’ thoughts on this.

      • well, I think if you are unhappy in other aspects of your life, it’s not going to matter if you’re a minimalist or not.

  8. Bethany, I remember your discussion on politics. I had taken a lot of grief over not voting this year and was glad to see your ideas meshed so closely with mine. It’s about what we do each day that counts as our vote. I used to think I could help bring about the changes I thought the country needed to have by voting, but now I see that I can do more in my own community that can have a bigger impact than pulling a lever.

    That’s quite a list of things you have grown to find don’t have the same meaning as they did then. I’m not sure how many things I have changed besides how I view politics, but the choice of my last apartment, the one before this one, was definitely a bad choice. All the reasons I talked myself into that place were based on half-truths and ignoring the little signals that were telling me it was the wrong place. I learned from that experience!

  9. I love this post, including that you took the time to see where you’ve changed. I realize I’ve changed a lot over the last several years, but haven’t really thought about how. I’m sure there are valuable insights there.

  10. Bethany, I love this type of “looking in the rear-view mirror” posts where people share what they’ve learned! (Who can’t use an extra helping of wisdom, and we’ve all been there with “should’ve-known-betters.”) Thanks for sharing your many valuable lessons with us. As for a link, it was hard for me to choose from one of own my (humbling) turning points, but the following link is something I’m really focusing on lately–how to keep my blog in the right balance to my “real life”: http://www.joyfullygreen.com/2013/08/my-blog-or-my-life-the-slippery-slope-of-balancing-work-and-family.html

    • Thanks for sharing that, Joy!

      It’s important to remember that lessons are a blessing, and there is no shame in having been “wrong,” because there is no shame at all in learning and growing! I’ll check out your post. I, too, have really struggled with balancing work and family. I think I’ve found my happy place, for now.

  11. It’s taken me longer than I wanted to read this post but it was well worth the wait and time. Congratulations! You are an adaptable grownup. At 65, I still have more questions than answers and they both keep changing. That’s why I’m “insearchofitall”. The day I stop learning is the day you can close the lid. You’ve got it at 35! You are so ahead of the game. I liked everything about this post. We are all different with different paths and ways of being in the world. It’s our experiences that make life interesting. Looking forward to the next post. I love that you are looking at how you look at things. 🙂 I hope I said this in the way I meant it.

  12. I think that balance brings happiness. The proper balance between work, play, enjoying time with loved once, helping others, and even the occasional indulgence. Minimizing how much weight you hold on possessions is a good first step, lest you become obsessed.

    Glad to see that you’ve made so much progress. Hopefully I can look back at similar results in due time.

    You totally made my day by the way, with that comment. So thank you for that.

    • Welcome aboard, Ragnar!

      Brooke, from Slow Your Home, talks about the concept of “tilting,” as opposed to balance, in her book. In tilting, your life is never “balanced,” but you give the attention where it is needed at the time. Sometimes it’s necessary to spend more time taking care of yourself, sometimes you focus mainly on family, and even sometimes work gets the larger slice of the pie. I’ve found this mindset to be very freeing.

      Well, thank you for writing a nice blog! 😉

  13. Great post giving me lots to think about.
    In keeping with your talk about minimalism, makes sense to cull through old thoughts and beliefs and toss them out.
    Old beliefs that I’ve decided to abandon… that work and responsibilities should come before play. Still a work in process.

    • Hi, Winifred!

      I like that way of thinking about it–purging old thoughts and beliefs. 🙂

      I think that most people (myself included) struggle with doing fun things, or doing things that benefit ourselves. I’ve really had to wrap my mind around the notion that enjoying life is every bit as meaningful as “giving back” in other ways.

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