"Men should avoid the distractions of pretence and delusion," wrote German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer in the year 1842. "Impossible expectations disconnected from reality always result in disappointment and sorrow."
Learning to see the truth
Learning to see the truth is seldom easy and never
without cost, but a sharp vision of the world and a clear mind bring man
unlimited rewards. Conformity is a bank from which you can borrow
short-term convenience after you have secured repayment by means of a
mortgage on your soul.
By willingly ignoring facts, we often
place ourselves in a fog of ignorance, increasing our likelihood of
making expensive mistakes and creating dangerous inconsistencies in our
actions. Consider these five examples:
1- Unhealthy food: Despite being aware of long-term negative effects of some foods, we keep
on consuming them in the illusion that, somehow, we alone will be
immune to the consequences.
2.- A decaying work environment: We
close our eyes to signs of decline in the company we work for, often for
years, in order to avoid the nuisance of searching alternative
employment or the risk of starting our own business.
relationships: We ignore major character flaws and attribute
non-existent virtues to someone we find sexually attractive in order to
justify an unsustainable choice.
4.- Unreliable friends: We avoid
confronting breach of trust to avoid rocking the boat, preferring to
hang around people who do not deserve our friendship instead of making
the effort to seek further.
5.- Unsound investments: We trust
prodigious assurances of reckless money-managers and place our savings
at great risk without giving it another thought.
mistakes and, when it comes to learning, there is no substitute for
experience. However, if we wish to minimize errors, few habits are as
effective as standing still from time to time, questioning aspects that
look too good to be true, and checking the consistency of our logic.
A sharp vision of reality
an unclouded vision of reality allows man to perceive truth," observed
Schopenhauer. "Decisions based on facts render individuals
self-supporting, which is the key to happiness." History shows that
prejudice and conformity block progress more frequently than ignorance.
too often, we forget to which extent the acquisition of knowledge is
dependent on moral courage. Let us restate at every opportunity our
right to discard facts that don't match. Only by allowing reason to
thrive will we keep civilization alive.
For more information about rational living and personal development, I refer you to my book The 10 Principles of Rational Living
[Image by Perrimoon under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]