Social

Another avenue to discovery is through socialization.  This also contributes to the pillar of Love by utilizing connection with others to deepen understanding of the self and our relationships with reality.  The blessing of interaction is that every person comes to the table with a unique set of experiences and perspectives that have the ability to enhance our breadth of knowledge on, well, practically anything. 


Not all socializing is discovery, however.  There are different levels of conversation that lead to different results.  Polite conversation is not going to lead to discovery; it’s superficial and deals with maintaining basic interaction within socially prescribed roles (such as how you interact with a waiter or a stranger).  On another hand, discussion of ideas and beliefs and facts can lead to new insight, but if the dialogue is not balanced with honest listening and openness, it tends to be a volume match for each person to have their ideas heard, thus blocking receptivity.  Deep conversation in which the participants are vulnerable, open, and concerned with exploring ideas, beliefs, interests, and emotions without hostility have a much higher likelihood of leading us toward new discoveries.

My personal experience is that I spend an awful lot of time chewing on ideas and analyzing my thoughts and feelings, and tend to come up against blocks where I spin my wheels on the same conclusion that doesn’t feel totally fleshed out.  It has helped me immensely to bring my confusion up with people who I believe can offer me new perspective or analysis of the idea.  It is also powerful for exploring the depths of my understanding and keeping the gears turning by trying to explain the problem to another person.  In articulating the hang-ups of your processing, you can better see the gaps in logic as well as the underlying structure of your beliefs on the topic.  Be aware that if you get caught up defending your confusion that it could easily turn into an argument, so being open to being wrong is essential to gaining insight… like it is in considering these sorts of questions in the first place. 

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My friends and family who are bluntly honest with me are immeasurable assets in my quests for understanding.  There is nothing like having a conversation with someone who knows you deeply when you are trying to understand yourself to a greater degree. 

Discussion exposes us to different perspectives and ideas, especially when we talk to people that have different opinions from us.  As humans we naturally gravitate towards people with similar beliefs and lifestyles to our own.  While this is comfortable and affirming of our views, it can stand in the way of growth and openness.  How often do you interact with people from different backgrounds and from different structures of beliefs?  While these conversations can be challenging to navigate, when they are approached with curiosity instead of judgment or defensiveness, we stand to learn a lot. 

Social interaction and relationships can also teach us immensely about ourselves when we consider our likes and dislikes.  We can use our perceptions of others as a mirror to understand ourselves to a greater degree.  When we like or dislike someone, often what we are attracted to or put-off by is present in ourselves as well.  For example, if I dislike someone because I consider them a bigot, it is likely that I am afraid of having bigoted thoughts myself.  If I esteem someone because they are generous and loving, I likely try to embody these traits as well. 

What do you dislike in others and how do these attributes appear in you?  What do you admire about others and how do you demonstrate those qualities?


Practices

Ask someone who knows you well what they think concerning the topic you’re caught on.
Spend time in diverse social situations and converse with people about their beliefs.
Discuss your ideas!  Ask others about their opinions.

Questions

What do you dislike in others and how do these attributes appear in you?
What do you like about others and how do you demonstrate those qualities?