This I Believe

Bernice - Underhill, Vermont
Entered on May 23, 2006
Age Group: 65+

I believe in nothing. I used to have a lot of beliefs that were handed down from other people. I believed a lot of negative things about myself, such as, “I’m only a woman, I’m too young, too old, too short.” Over time, I found these and many other beliefs only hampered me. So now I believe in nothing, or at least that is my aim.

I have found that beliefs are learned – from our parents, our schools, our peers, our religious and political institutions, our culture. Beliefs are intellectual constructs that may or may not reflect “reality” (whatever that means). People used to believe the Earth was flat, but that did not make it true.

Beliefs take place in the mind. Knowing takes place in the heart. I now try to treat all beliefs as useful working hypotheses. If a belief or belief system seems valid for me, I use it until a more useful hypothesis occurs. In this way I do not become stuck in any one belief system and remain open to new concepts and ideas, less bound to old perspectives and prejudices. An added benefit is that I am increasingly willing to entertain others’ views. Such an openness brings me inner peace.