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Feeling Good is not the Enemy

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The notion that we should be hyper-skeptical of the ideas we want to be true is silly.

Evidence always matters and it doesn’t become more or less important based on what we want to believe.

For example, I don’t want to believe that there are monsters under my bed and it actually makes me feel better to imagine that I’m safe from ghosts and goblins when I lie down to sleep at night. I’m not going to treat my belief on this issue as if it’s irrational solely because it’s what I want to be true. The truth is still the truth even if makes me feel good.

Another example: I really enjoy the feeling of believing that my four older brothers are supportive of my dreams. Yes, that’s an emotional experience. If this belief were not true, I’d feel disappointed. Thankfully, my belief is supported by a large body of evidence. I’m not going to treat my belief on this issue as if it’s unscientific merely because it gives me psychological comfort. Evidence is still evidence even if it points to something that’s not negative.

Critical thinking isn’t just for the beliefs that fill our hearts with faith, hope, and love. It’s also for the beliefs that make us sad, angry, and uninspired. People are just as terrible at seeing the truth when the truth benefits them as they are at seeing the truth when it doesn’t benefit them.

The world is filled with miserable people who want to be happy, but who haven’t been trained to detect the logical fallacies that doom them to poor decisions and self-defeating conclusions. The world is filled with people who have more options and opportunities than they realize, but who don’t know how to subject their limiting beliefs to skeptical scrutiny.

Take a good hard look at what ruins your day. Have you really taken the time to analyze the epistemic foundations of your beliefs and perceptions? It’s delusional and dangerous to assume that you’re being logical just because you’re not having a good time.

You might be resilient for believing in things that make you miserable, but that doesn’t make you rational. Instead of focusing on being tough, focus on being truthful. And follow the truth wherever it leads…even if it leads to something pleasant.

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