It’s better to be a fool who believes in everything, than to be a skeptic who believes in nothing—not even the truth.
—Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
You can train your brain to be skeptical. And being a skeptic sometimes has value.
For example, when it comes to analysis of data, it’s actually good to be skeptically analytical. That is the basis of quality research.
It’s good, for example, to be thoroughly skeptical about the objectivity of journalists. And to question our public servants and hold them accountable.
It’s good to question people who put others down or insult them. It’s good to be skeptical about the “conventional wisdom.”
But the problem with skepticism is that it can become second nature. It can become your default position. You start off ridiculing foolishness and falsehood, and then you start to miss the truth hiding in plain sight. Eventually you might end up ridiculing everything, even the truth.
If, however, you are filled with hopeful belief, you are training your brain to believe. You might, it’s true, believe in a bit of foolishness now and then. Or even often. But you have gotten into the habit of believing. When the time comes for you to believe in the truth, you will.
What to believe? Believe in yourself. Believe that the Creator put you on this earth for a reason. Believe you count and that you can make a difference. Believe that your life has value.
Don’t let peer pressure get you down. If you believe something different than the mainstream, don’t assume you’re wrong. You might be right.
When we stop worrying what other people think of us, even if they call us fools, we gain strength and hope. When we believe in our spiritual nature, our deep connection to other people, and how important we are to God, we naturally feel our lives count and that our lives are worth living.
If you’re going to be in New York City this Sunday, please join me for a special event at the JCC, The Legacy of the Baal Shem Tov: Inspiration for Today. The Baal Shem Tov was Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s great-grandfather and the founder of the Hasidic movement.