In a recent excerpt from my journal, I mentioned that I felt very uncertain about most things in my life.
I noticed that I have a tendency to seek certainty in knowledge. Intellectual certainty may be a good term to describe this phenomenon. It is a desire for some kind of truth. Most people have managed to deceive themselves of the certainty behind the beliefs that they hold.
This is my current disease. My desire for certainty and my fear of complexity is dangerous and arouses self-destructive tendencies. If only I could train myself to deal with this…
This is where the work of a gentleman named Nassim Taleb comes in. A man who’s work I still don’t understand much but a man who’s work intrigues and puzzles me unlike any other.
One thing I learned from him is that we need to stop questioning whether or not certain beliefs are true or false but instead what the consequences of those beliefs are. Religion is a great example to ponder…
Religion is quite complex and convoluted. It’s hard to decipher. Some people claim that it’s the truth written by the Lord himself and others think that it’s just hogwash written to control large populations. The debate about whether or not it’s true can go on for centuries but what about the consequences of religion? Have you noticed that religious families/communities tend to behave differently than non-religious communities? Studies show that religious people are happier, stay married longer, and live longer.
Pascal’s wager: I choose to believe in God because if he exists then I have upside and if he doesn’t then I still get the upside.
The same goes for many aspects of life. If you are puzzled by a certain belief or practice and aren’t sure about the validity, ask yourself instead what the consequences are of engaging in this practice. The difficult part for me is that I tend to vacillate too much and allow the uncertainty to stress me out. I would like to get to a place where I can just choose an action despite not knowing the facts behind it.
Nassim Taleb had once tweeted “Yoga shmoga, just go for a walk.” He also said that “Meditation is narcissism without hurting anyone else.” He may have his reasons for saying these things and they probably have to do with the idea that yoga and meditation were not necessarily rituals from the old western world and yet people lived fine. Well in my experience, yoga and meditation provide boosts in concentration, better health, and a more calm internal world. Meditation helps me relate to my own thoughts and emotions in a more detached way. Are yoga and meditation the best way to do this? Maybe not. But what are the consequences? To me, they are mostly positive so who cares if these methods aren’t the only way.
Sometimes I meditate. Sometimes I drink. Sometimes I f*ck. These things all have a way of calming me down. But the last two can quickly become destructive.