“Truth Seekers” Are the Best Kind of People

A reader quotes me from a recent article:

“While nobody delights in being wrong, new knowledge is valued by a genuinely self-loving person. Finding out that one is wrong is tantamount to learning something new.”

The reader goes on to comment:

“I once had a manager compliment me by saying that I listen or take criticism well. When someone criticizes me I anticipate learning something that did not occur to me and so I am ‘all ears.’

I am a truth seeker. It sounds weird to say, but truth is wonderful.

To not seek truth is to live blindly and without control.”

“Truth seeker.” I love it!

And that reflects the attitude all of us should have. Think of the emotional conflict and behavioral problems that would disappear with such an attitude. Take, for example, the people told by bosses or spouses they have “anger management” issues. What causes all this anger? Most of it is built-up frustration. If you go to a counselor for anger management, you’ll almost certainly be told that you “hold things in” too much when it counts. As a result, you let it all explode impulsively when it’s inappropriate or out of proportion to the facts.

OK, but what’s the cause of the anger in the first place? As I said, it’s usually frustration. Frustration comes from many things. Much frustration in people, I find, is caused by a false belief that, “I must be seen as right” or, “I must be superior to others.” There’s no need to be superior to others. All you need is to be as right, correct and “truth-involved” as possible. Knowledge and understanding can come from your own insight and learning. However, other people have a lot to offer you. Why? Because it’s possible that another person knows something that you don’t. You can learn by example. You see someone else doing something well, and you can observe what makes this happen.

Being seen as right is not nearly as important as being objectively right. If you know you’re right about something, and nobody around you agrees or even cares to hear it, then it’s their loss, not yours. You can shrug your shoulders and perhaps feel disappointed or annoyed. But angry? Why does it matter?

We all have minds that can reason. None of us are infallible, and none of us can know everything. Some of us know more than others. But if anyone else knows more than you, then he or she can only be a potential benefit if that knowledge is relevant to you.

“Taking criticism well” is an admirable and mature quality. However, it springs from a deeper source. If you’re comfortable with, and confident about, your relationship with facts of objective reality, including your capacity for reasoning and thinking, then of course you’ll be comfortable with criticism. You only stand to gain from it, assuming the criticism is valid and worthwhile.

I know that “truth-seeking” sounds too abstract and intimidating to a lot of people. But these ideas have real implications for emotional states. Everyone cares about emotional states. Would you like to have, or be around people who have, reasonable, benevolent, eager, curious — not hostile or hateful — emotional states? If so, then consider the advantages of becoming (or associating with) genuine seekers of truth, in both great and small things.

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