SEP 19 2011

How to avoid falling for anything.

Critical Thinking

I heard this golden quote in a movie not to long ago:

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

It’s a lovely sentence that sounds just right; but, is it true?

all generalizations are false

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I have being always suspicious about golden rules, especially when they sound just right. A right sounding golden rule is difficult to question. Nobody wants to find out if it’s wrong because is like destroying a beautiful artwork.

It sounds so right, they say, that it has to be right. And we prefer to put our faith in golden rules and not questioning them.

This quote in particular implies that it is better to blindly stand for any belief, even if not truly convenient, than falling for something we don’t know. Why is it better? It looks to me that it really depends on the qualities of the belief and the alternative anything.

There might be some cases in which standing for anything could have worked. For instance: a drug addict who might have not fall into drugs had he find a strong belief in some kind of principles. This may happen but, in my experience, solid principles supporters will be also tempted by a wide variety of drugs. Some will be able to escape from them but many will fall.

You may not agree with me on this but, isn’t it possible to stand for a belief so wrong (like some fanatics too often do) that it would be preferable to fall for anything else?

Moreover, is really that easy for a non supporter to fall for anything? I believe that you shouldn’t fall for anything if you stand on your own feet.

Or maybe you could still fall for anything but it would have been your own choice, and you shouldn’t be too afraid of taking the wrong choices. Some of those bad decisions may become your greatest learning experiences.

But for that, for turning bad choices into positive circumstances, you need to keep your eyes open and question everything.

There is something in that quote worth considering, though. Being focused in something you really want to achieve might help you to avoid falling into distractions –being focus means avoiding distractions-, but it is not quite the same.

Being focused and standing for something are different. You can be focused as a result of a genuine interest in learning something while standing for something may often stand on your way of learning.

I am not saying that standing for something you really believe in is a bad thing. I know there are some times in our lives when we have to take strong stands, but I also know that those moments in life are sparse and tent to arrive rather seasonally.

You might be thinking about Viktor Frankl’s insight about having a purpose in your live. I can only show respect and total agreement with his book, his life and his idea and I totally recommend it if you are passing by an extreme life-threatening experience (like in a concentration camp), but not if you explore.

Whenever you decide to explore anything, you must get rid of any kind of preconceived idea (good or wrong) or the exploration ends.

What I am saying is: while not in those crucial stand taking moments, make good use of your time: stand on your own feet; keep your eyes open, think for yourself; question everything; learn to learn; explore

There are 16 comments

  • Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA on said:

    This is a great question, Gustavo. Maybe I feel it more, since your quote is among my eMail signatures.
    I have always denoted the concept of “stand for” to require one to do exactly what you state- to examine the issues, determine alternatives, and then advocate for what you have reasoned to be the facts. It is akin to our statements to our children, our employees, or our friends when we state : “I won’t stand for that any longer”. Which typically involves an activity that is contrary to our principles. And, that IS the issue.
    Our principles are derived considerations. They are not GIVEN to us to use.
    We are all taught that lying is bad. Yet, everyone of us knows at least ONE- if not a myriad of- instance(s) where lying is the BEST thing to do. (Honey, does this dress make me look skinny? comes immediately to my mind- I guess the frying pan that came flying after my response still echoes in my head…)
    I hope that makes MY credo clear. And, I have taught my children that they need to stand for something, by researching, by examining, and coming to their own conclusions. (As proof, each of them have their own religious traditions- yes, they are in concert with mine- concert as in one of us plays the violin, the other the trombone, yet a third plays the cello, one has the piano, and one the cymbals. Sorry- Hashem (the Lord) is the only conductor.)
    Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA recently posted..Responsible Corporate Officer Doctrine?

  • Martha Giffen on said:

    Interesting take. I’ll bet you’re the one who takes the radio apart to see how it works too! It’s the old cause and effect thing. Just because you “take a stand” doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll “fall for anything.” I believe in taking a stand for your beliefs however, as we’ve seen, that can also be the mantra of crazy radicals who take their stands against others in a not-so-pleasant way. Again, food for thought.
    Martha Giffen recently posted..Building Credibility For Your Online Business

  • gustavo on said:

    Hey, Roy! You really put my couple of neurons to work. You are right. Our principles are derived considerations. There is a big difference when they become part of our action and not stay merly as part of the decoration. I have also had to decide between making a stand and ducking for flying pans.

    I guess I should rephrase it to something like: If your principle is the result of your own research and analysis it can definitely help you to not fall for anything. What a great comment, Roy. Thanks!

  • gustavo on said:

    Hi Martha!

    I just came from your site and read you great post about building credibility and how standing for your beliefs can be a great way to communicate your ideas to the world and building your credibility. This is something I did not consider when writing this post.

    I guess there are many others advantages when standing for your beliefs but only if they are the right ones (genuine and honest).

  • Sherrie Koretke on said:

    Hi Gustavo,

    I Googled this quote and couldn’t find the source or context so it’s hard to understand what it really meant. That being said, I interpret it to mean that where there is nothing is a vacuum. If nothing is there anything can fill the void.

    When I think of taking a stand it has nothing to do with filling a void. It has to do with what I feel is right. If people don’t have any moral or ethical compass than maybe they are subject to believing in someone else’s cause.

    Sherrie Koretke recently posted..Crafting Your Life’s Work

  • Dian Wijayanti on said:

    Wow, I wish my friends and family would read this and could understand this. Most of the times, I found they became so fanatic about something and that makes close their eyes to things that they perceive as different without logical reason. God I hate that. And they think that too much questions in anything will just misled them. It might be true sometimes, but I think we indeed need to always question everything!
    Dian Wijayanti recently posted..Holiday Project

  • Gustavo | frugal science on said:

    Hi Dian! I feel the same way about close relatives closing their eyes to things they perceive different with no apparent logical reason. But, sometimes, we close our eyes also and we refuse to just see. This happen especially when we feel bitter with reality and we end up saying things like: “It shouldn’t be like that…”

  • Gustavo | frugal science on said:

    Hi, Sherrie!
    You’re right! Standing for your own principles may turn into many healthy and even profitable outcomes, but they have to be genuine. I bet standing for something just to fill the void –as you stated- would be useless.

    I loved the terms you use. They are capable to simplify the idea.

  • Desi on said:

    I struggle to think of anything more dangerous than a single-minded, unshakeable belief in one right way to do anything – to live, to be, to learn, or even just to complete a process. Golden rules are guidelines, and valuable ones, for sure. But when they preclude thought and reason, well…. You explained this so eloquently, as always, Gustavo!
    Desi recently posted..Stuff My Kids Eat – Spanish Rice

  • Gustavo| Frugal Science on said:

    HI, Desi!

    You synthesized it perfectly. Golden rules are valuable guidelines. Just like maps are valuable because they point us to where the treasure is, but they are not the treasure.
    Gustavo| Frugal Science recently posted..How to avoid falling for anything.

  • Karla Campos on said:

    Hi Gustavo, great post to get the noggin working : ) I always stand for what I believe in but I am also open to hear what others have to say because what I stand for is the accumulation of knowledge that I was able to gain up until the point in the present where my knowledge is challenged. If I remain closed to only my perspective then I can’t grow, so when someone shares a new fact or idea, it has to process in my mind. I have to read about it and experiment and when I can prove to myself that the new idea being presented works better than mine, that is when my perspective changes to the new belief and I evolve.
    Karla Campos recently posted..Letting Go of that Toxic Relationship, Even if you Love the Person

  • Walter on said:

    It has been the error of many to follow blindly things that they do not verify for themselves. Being able to open our eyes and question everything is no easy task unless we put it into our awareness every time certain belief or events comes our way. This is a really good wisdom you have shared here Gustavo. :-)

  • Samantha Bangayan on said:

    Ooh! The importance of critical thinking! I love how you link this with exploration, Gustavo! I like to thing that I’d be strong enough to not “fall for anything” either. I can see how this strength has to do with questioning and making my own decisions. I especially love how you mention that we shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes — in that case, it’s okay if I fall for something ridiculous as long as I keep my eyes open and keep learning from the good and the bad. =) Love this post, friend!
    Samantha Bangayan recently posted..Tourism in Huancayo: 4 Reasons You Should Visit

  • Gustavo| Frugal Science on said:

    Hi Karla!

    It’s a great way to put it: I have to read about it and experiment and when I can prove to myself that the new idea being presented works better than mine, that is when my perspective changes…” Changing your beliefs without testing tem is as bad as refusing to tolerate the possible different opinions of others.
    Gustavo| Frugal Science recently posted..What would you regret 20 years from now?

  • Gustavo| Frugal Science on said:

    Hey, Walter!

    Thanks for sharing your ideas. You are right! The next natural step after questioning everything is awareness which is nothing but a permanent state of inquiring.
    Gustavo| Frugal Science recently posted..What would you regret 20 years from now?

  • Gustavo| Frugal Science on said:

    Hi Samantha!

    As I told you before, you are one of my favorite explorers. And you are right, is simple as opening your eyes and learning from your choices –even when you fall for something ridiculous- although is not as easy as it seems.
    Gustavo| Frugal Science recently posted..What would you regret 20 years from now?

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