Challenge Your Assumptions
Would you be surprised if I told you that some of your assumptions are always wrong? In fact, today, I would like you to question your assumptions. It may be difficult, but it is the only way to view the world from a new perspective. It is important that you challenge your pre-set reasoning and give way to more tangible solutions to your problems.
What are assumptions? Nothing, but beliefs and thoughts based on experience, which do not allow us the freedom of making other choices. They cloud our reasoning and make us take decisions, which invariably are either wrong or not the best possible option. This whole theory is centred on our thoughts – the various meanings we give them, our expectations and finally our reactions.
Every day we are inundated with numerous thoughts not just while we are awake, but also while we sleep. The kind of thoughts one get depends upon the state of mind. If you’re feeling great, you will get positive thoughts; if not, the thoughts will mostly be negative. But, it’s not the thoughts that really matter. What matters is the way we process them and what meaning do we attach to them. Most of the time when you’re not actively thinking, thoughts will keep flowing automatically – this is called default mode or passive thinking. This provides an answer, which we feel is the right one, but it’s not always the case. We are so used to the default mode that we have forgotten to exert our mind and think differently. All we need to do is to shake our chain of thoughts and generate alternatives.
Thoughts are like passing clouds; they come and go through our mind and if we don’t get involved with them, they don’t bother us. But, the instant we put some meaning to these thoughts without any rationale, also called false evaluation, these thoughts turn into emotions and trigger a physiological reaction making the body respond accordingly. In effect, most of our stereotype thoughts emerge due to this incorrect assessment.
I’ll state two very simple incidents that happened in my life, but taught me a solid lesson that never to assume, always try and find a better answer.
One day, I got up early in the morning and went to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea, but the gas stove did not light. I naturally assumed that the gas must be over and that I need to replace the cylinder. It was a tough task for me, so I decided to wait until my cook came back and changed it. But suddenly, I decided to challenge my assumption. I thought let’s check in case someone had turned off the cylinder knob and on checking found that indeed that was what had happened. What then? I just turned it on and what do you know, I finally had my favourite cup of chai, without waiting for my ‘Jeeves’ to return!
In another incident, once again I was trying to make my tea, but as soon as I added milk to the boiling tea leaves, it split and much to my dismay, I had to throw away the entire brew! Feeling rather bad, I went back to my room. But a thought flashed through my mind. Let me see if there was milk left over from the previous day. I did find some, but was apprehensive that it may be rancid. But then again, I challenged my assumption and instead decided to try it out. And bingo, it worked and I sat and enjoyed my cuppa!
Both these little anecdotes taught me never to take any decisions without a further probe of ideas, thoughts and reasoning. After going through several experiences like these, I have now got into the habit of not taking these default mode thoughts for granted. Instead, I stand up and challenge them and most of the time it works the other way round.
I remember I used to teach a laughter exercise in the clubs – “One door closes; another door opens.” This means that despite any problems coming from one direction; there is always a way out and you can always find a solution. Whenever I face obstacles, instead of getting overwhelmed; I start thinking of possibilities for any breakthrough and ninety nine percent of times, it always works. You can also call it optimism. I have become a hard core optimist after practicing Laughter Yoga for years. How about you? Do you get swayed because of more thinking and give up? All you need to do is to get up challenge your thoughts and assumptions and rediscover answers and a whole new perception, which will lead you to happiness and contentment. It will help you build new beliefs and produce the thoughts and actions you want in life.