Embracing Who We Are
Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be, and embracing who we are.
When we choose authenticity we:
- Cultivate the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
- Exercise the compassion that comes from knowing that we are made of strengths and struggles.
- Nurture the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough.
Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving – even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it.
Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
The peak of tolerance is most readily achieved by those who are not burdened with convictions.
Tolerance is a Virtue
Tolerance is a rare and important virtue. What underlies tolerance is the recognition that there is plenty of room in the world for alternatives to coexist, and that if one is offended by what others do, it is because one has let it get under one’s skin. We tolerate others best when we know how to tolerate ourselves – learning how to do so is one aim of the civilized life.
Tolerance vs Intolerance
Tolerance and its opposite, intolerance, are not or even invariably forms of acceptance or rejection respectively. One can tolerate a belief or a practice without accepting it oneself.
Meditations for the Humanist: Ethics for a Secular Age
Cognition & Perception
Cognition is the mental act or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses. Cognitive processes use existing knowledge and generate new knowledge. Cognitive processes are analyzed from different perspectives within different contexts, in a number of fields, including: neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, education, philosophy, anthropology, biology, and computer science.
Perception is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to represent and understand the presented information, or the environment.
Nine Laws of Cognition
- There are no benefits without costs.
- Action molds perception.
- Feeling comes first.
- The mind can override perception.
- Cognition mirrors perception.
- Spatial thinking is the foundation of abstract thought.
- The mind fills in missing information.
- When thought overflows the mind, the mind puts it into the world.
- We organize the stuff in the world the way we organize the stuff in the mind.
Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought
Most of the spirits and deities of foraging and hunter-gatherer societies did not have moral concerns. Such gods may have wanted to be appeased with sacrifices and rituals, but they were typically unconcerned with moral transgressions, which preoccupy the Big Gods of major world religions.
Many of the local gods and spirits were not even fully omniscient to be good monitors of moral behavior – they perceived things within village boundaries and not beyond, and they could be manipulated by other rival gods. Religion’s early roots did not have a wide moral scope. Nevertheless, despite their relative infrequency in the supernatural scope of hunter-gatherer societies, powerful, omniscient, interventionist, morally concerned gods – Big Gods – managed to proliferate over time through cultural diffusion, population expansions, and conquest.
Advent of Big Gods
Prosocial religions, together with their Big Gods who watch, intervene, and demand hard-to-fake loyalty displays, facilitated the rise of cooperation in large groups of anonymous strangers. In turn, these expanding groups took their prosocial religious beliefs and practices with them, further enhancing large-scale cooperation in a runaway process of cultural evolution.
Religious intuitions developed (for example: mind and body separation, and the continued existence of mind after the body perishes), which support widely held religious beliefs and related practices, such as gods, spirits, and souls of various types and characteristics. Once that happened, the stage was set for rapid cultural evolution – nongenetic, socially transmitted changes in beliefs and behaviors – that eventually led to large societies with Big Gods.
Eight Principles of Big Gods
- Watched people are nice people.
- Religion is more in the situation that in the person.
- Hell is stronger than heaven.
- Trust people who trust in God.
- Religious actions speak louder than words.
- Unworshipped Gods are impotent Gods.
- Big Gods for Big Groups.
- Religious groups cooperate in order to compete.
Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict