All of the things we learn and discover as we grow up form the core of the people we become. And some of the most basic lessons stay with us for our entire lives. But we would be better off if many of these ideas were challenged more often.
One of the things we do as humans with limited capacity is create heuristics. These are simple mental shortcuts that we use over and over to make sense of the world around us efficiently. But this efficiency comes with a cost. Sometimes we are wrong.
Today I was watching a show on Netflix about a couple who spent their “Honeymoon” in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness for an entire year. On their travels they witness a wounded elk being hunted by a pack of wolves. The heuristic we all jump to is that the elk is doomed to death and that this is just survival of the fittest. But that would be wrong. As the wounded elk comes to the top of a ridge, another elk comes into the frame and stands between his kin and the pack of wolves and fends off the pack. The next morning the two elk are still alive and the wolves are gone.
How many times do we assume the worst and chalk it up the heuristics that have worked for us in the past? Yes, we use heuristics for a reason, the world is simply to complex for us not to be making good use of these shortcuts. But some days we need to question things that have worked for us in the past and be willing to see the best in a situation, even though we may have assumed it could only have been otherwise.