We all have opinions and beliefs. Positions on things which we hold dear, and which serve as shortcuts to decision-making.

The unfortunate side-effect of having strong opinions and beliefs is that after establishing them, we’re less likely to question them. Sure, they may evolve in little ways, but a substantial swerve would require either acknowledging that you were wrong in the past or that you have changed in some significant way since your beliefs and opinions were initially established. Neither thought is easy to accept.

This is why bending is important. Bending, in this context, means allowing yourself to entertain opinions and beliefs beyond your tried and true collection.

Bending allows us to experiment with opinions and beliefs other than our own for a short time. It may be for the duration of a conversation or the span of a vacation. Either way, the result is that we better understand other people’s positions on various topics, resulting in a larger arsenal of perspectives to pull from when it’s time to make a decision or reassess the paths we walk.

Sturdiness is useful in some ways, but we shouldn’t be afraid to bend at least as much as we are rigid in our habits, beliefs, and philosophies. A perspective with no give is brittle.

Update: April 4, 2017

As I write this update, I’ve just finished writing a new book in which the topic of bending and malleability comes up a lot, both for the individual, and for our societies.

It’s remarkable how difficult it can be to accept the utility of it, though. We’re taught from day one that strength is found in rigidity, not malleability. And this despite the fact that we often grok the former before the latter, as kids. We’re super-exploratory early on, and are only taught to conform our thoughts to one of a handful of dominant narratives in our societies as we grow, and over time bulwark those specific points of view against outside influence; because like a life-form, its in those sets of ideas best interest to ensure they’re not replaced by others (it’s not mistake that the concept of a ‘meme’ was based on the concept of a ‘gene’).