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Thinking For Oneself

When I was young, I thought other people could give me wisdom. Now that I’m older, I know this isn’t true.

Wisdom is earned, not given. When other people give us the answer, it belongs to them and not us. While we might achieve the outcome we desire, it comes from dependence, not insight. Instead of thinking for ourselves, we’re dependent on the insight of others.

There is nothing wrong with buying insight, this is one way we leverage ourselves. The problem is when we assume the insight of others is our own.

Earning insight requires going below the surface. Most of us want to shy away from the details and complexity. It takes a while. It’s boring. It’s mental work.

Yet it is only by jumping into the complexity that we can really discover simplicity for ourselves.

While the abundant directives, rules, and simplicities offered by others make us feel like we’re getting smarter, it’s nothing more than the illusion of knowledge.

If wisdom was as simple to acquire as reading, we’d all be wealthy and happy. Others help you but they can’t do the work for you. Owning wisdom for oneself requires a discipline the promiscuous consumer of it does not share.

Perhaps an example will help. The other day a plumber came to repair a pipe. He fixed the problem in under 5 minutes. The mechanical motions are easy to replicate. In fact, while it would take me longer, the procedure was so simple if you watched him you’d be able to do it. However, if even one thing were to deviate or change, we’d have a crisis on our hands, whereas the plumber would not. It took years of work to earn the wisdom he brought to solve the problem. Just because we could only see the simplicity he brought to the problem didn’t mean there wasn’t a deep understanding of the complexity behind it. There is no way we could acquire that insight in a few minutes by watching. We’d need to do it over and over for years, experiencing all of the things that could go wrong.

Thinking is something you have to do by yourself.

The post Thinking For Oneself appeared first on Farnam Street.

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