Last week I saw the cover of the New Scientist and a brazened across the cover was BELIEF.  I had to buy a copy and the article (by Graham Lawton, titled Beyond Belief, pg. 28 – 31) highlighted some important characteristics about what Beliefs are, how they are formed and how they influence the things we do in everyday life including sport and business.  The content is really pertinent to the section of the Journey (my book which is available here) on Belief.  Lawton emphasized that beliefs are powerful drivers that are fundamental to how we see and interact with the world; they are a ‘personal guidebook that influences almost everything we do.’ 

With regard to what beliefs are Lawton suggested that a definition is difficult to come by but stressed that ‘a belief is like knowledge, but more personal’ and that knowledge is objective whilst a belief is subjective.  This is a positive as it suggests that there is potential to change and modify the beliefs we hold true.

The article discussed what our beliefs are based on, they are:

1.     Evolved Psychology – Beliefs are formed as a result of our perception of the environment through our senses to maximise our chances of survival.  We think that something must have caused an experience so we look for patterns to avoid patterns that put us at risk.  A rustle in the undergrowth could be a predator so a belief is formed that it is best to stay clear of the undergrowth.

2.     Personal Biological differences – Everyone is different and so you need to be aware of these differences.

3.     Culture – We are social being and we want to belong.  So forming beliefs that are congruent with the people around us is important and many of the beliefs we have are formed during childhood which again are usually formed using our interpretation and perception of the information provided to us by our senses.

This reinforces the fact that beliefs are very stable and difficult to change.  However, beliefs can be modified and changed.  The Building Blocks and Principles outlined in the Journey are needed.  First you need to be aware and gain enough information/knowledge to override the belief.  This is hard work and extends your comfort zone (both principles in the Journey) as you have to work to get the right information to change your beliefs; this is under your control (the final principle).  Belief is another Building Block and the Journey has strategies within it that will allow your beliefs to be modified.

Reference: New Scientist April 4 2014 (no. 3015).