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The power of ideas

I'm currently reading the book, Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari, and the first few chapters of the book are dedicated to the power of ideas. He makes a strong case for the reason that our species has become so powerful and dominant on this planet, being our ability to imagine things that don't exist and have ideas. Like, nations, laws, human rights, religions and bitcoin.

While he writes it in the context of explaining how the history of our species has unfolded, it is just as relevant in understanding how our lives unfold from one day to the next.

Simply put, the more you read, the more you watch, the more you listen and the more you see, the more you learn.

But it is very natural to restrict ourselves to what we like and consume only that which is entertaining. Crime and detective stories are entertaining, superhero movies are entertaining, articles from most daily bloggers are engaging. But, they quickly turn stale in terms of new ideas. They tend to turn repetitive in ideas.

The same happens when it comes to the conversations we have with people. If you think back to what you talk about with the people you talk to everyday (or even every week), majority of the subject matter of the conversations tend to revolve around the weather, the lives of other people, the food that we've been eating, the shows and movies that we've been watching, the books that we've been reading or the current events that is being reported in the news, and occasionally outcomes of football (or any other sport) games.

Sure, some of these result in stimulating conversations that question our beliefs and push is to think in directions that we generally don't think in.

As I start to wind down 2017 and begin planning for 2018, I'm deciding to take this seriously. I want to write with the intent of provoking uncomfortable or new thoughts, even if it means writing less frequently. I want to listen to more TEDTalks and podcasts and watch less of serial dramas. I want to read a wider variety of fiction and non-fiction and less of crime and detective stories.

The ideas that we are exposed to are what shapes us. For a sculpture to be perfectly chiseled, it needs to be sculpted from all sorts of angles. Striking away at a block from one angle over and over results in something altogether different - usually a wreck.

Ideas have the power to make us. All we need to do is expose ourselves to more.

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