I explored the concept of conviction and concluded that while I do have morals, I lack conviction, because I lack the undying passion necessary for it. For instance, I believe that biking to work, thus cutting back on driving and gas usage, would be better for the world (as well as my health and proverbial pocketbook). But I am lazy enough that I have only been able to bring myself to do so a few times since actually making the decision to bike more often. If I had conviction, I would bike to work every day. Since I don’t, is there a way to create conviction in myself?
Inspired by I Could Do Anything…, I’ve constructed an experiment that might help answer the question of whether or not it is possible to drive oneself towards a life of conviction. (Ironically, I haven’t yet decided if I am actually going to perform the experiment.) There is a passage that talks about how any action toward a particular end, no matter how small or possibly misdirected, will lead to higher self-esteem, since having taken action you have succeeded in conquering a fear. Granted, this argument is applied to figuring out what your dream life is, but I think the concept of taking action is worthy and potentially applicable. It is important to raise your self-esteem in the case of conviction, because following your values can sometimes be draining (it isn’t easy to live in a tree while loggers try to cut it down).
So my theory goes like this: try something that is challenging for a short period of time, like a week. Stick with it. See how it makes you feel. To go back to my bike commuting example, I should commit myself to biking to work every day for a week. If I figure out how to do that successfully, maybe I can do it again the next week. Maybe I will feel really good about myself (having single-handedly saved our environment and solved our oil crisis, leading to a pull-out of troops in Iraq). Maybe I will try to convince others to do it. If any of these were outcomes, then I would consider the experiment successful and I could move on to other things to try for a week:
- Eating vegetarian
- Eating vegan
- Eating raw!
- Not cursing
- Not gossiping
- Not talking about people behind their backs
The list can go on and on. Or maybe, just maybe, I will feel so put out by the annoyances of biking to work five days in a row that I will decide to just forget about the whole damn thing.