A friend recently asked me what plans I had for the weekend.
I replied that Gimalle, my wife, had mentioned wanting to see a particular movie and his response took me completely by surprise.
“Don’t waste your time going to see that movie, it’s just junk. Every review I have read has panned this as being the worst movie ever made so please, spare yourselves and go and see something else.”
His response reminded me of a similar comment from another friend when I’d mentioned we were meeting friends at a particular restaurant for dinner.
She had immediately gone off on a rant about the terrible experience she had at that restaurant and why I shouldn’t even consider going there.
What I found interesting about both of these responses was their presumption that I would be influenced easily influenced by their opinions.
When critics slams a movie all they are doing is presenting their opinions of the movie and certainly, when they use words like “junk, garbage, pathetic, not worth seeing,” they are not giving us irrefutable, indisputable facts, but rather they are sharing their sentiments, and that is all they are doing.
Critics, like everyone else, are completely entitled to their opinions. But that’s all they are – opinions – and I never cease to be amazed how easily so many of us are influenced by the opinions of others.
As it so happens Gimalle and I did go see that movie and, surprise surprise, thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it.
The same was true of that restaurant. The restaurant in question has been in business for 27 years (I asked the owner) so to me it seems implausible to heed the advice (opinion) of one person’s experience at one meal as a measure of whether or not we should go there.
The Habit of Reaching Your Own Conclusions is a powerful tool to encourage us to form our own opinions, arrive at our own conclusions, and not allow our lives and actions to be overly influenced by the opinions of others.
Had I listened to my two friends I would not have seen a movie I enjoyed nor visited a restaurant that served us a delicious meal.
Had the opinions of my friends proven correct (meaning my opinion matched theirs) what would I have lost? I would’ve spent a couple of hours in a movie theatre not liking my experience and I would have had meal I did not enjoy.
Would either of these two events negatively impact the quality of my life? Of course not, and I am pleased that, in both cases, I chose to overlook the opinions of my friends.
The Habit of Reaching Your Own Conclusions does not mean that we ignore, or completely disregard what others have to say, but it does instill in us the need to gather information for ourselves before reaching conclusions.
It is also a reminder that opinions are as different from facts as apples are from oranges. We will never accept a vendor trying to convince us that an apple is an orange and we must also learn to separate opinions from facts and make our decisions based on what we believe to be true, and not on what others tell us is true.
The Habit of Reaching Your Own Conclusions encourages us to challenge assumptions and doing so is far healthier than blindly accepting as gospel the opinions of others.
And who doesn’t want to be healthier?
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.