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Why Sharing Our Opinions Matters, Even When They’re Recycled

pearl in shell

Guest posts are rare on Raptitude, but today my friend and fellow writer Lisis Blackston has come out of retirement to share some of her wisdom with us. Enjoy.

Sometimes it seems like everything we say on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, or even in conversations is either “preaching to the choir,” or “falling on deaf ears.” Readers and listeners have already decided what they choose to believe, and they pay attention only to whatever validates their predetermined opinions. They seek confirmation, rather than education or enlightenment.

No matter what they believe, they will always find that confirmation, because an argument can be made for just about anything. For instance, some “truths” are complete opposites:

“He who hesitates is lost” and “Everything comes to he who waits.”

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” and “Out of sight, out of mind.”

“Birds of a feather flock together” and “Opposites attract.”

So, why bother sharing our thoughts and opinions at all? Isn’t it a complete waste of time?

As a matter of fact, it isn’t. Tossing around ideas is a necessary part of our self-discovery process.

Pearls of Wisdom: From Ideas to Beliefs

First, a tiny seed of an idea makes its way into our minds. We aren’t sure what to make of it, but cannot ignore it. We start looking around, noticing other ideas like it, reading anything we can find on the topic.

Everything we hear and read is like a thin layer of nacre (mother of pearl)… shiny, brittle, iridescent coating around the idea. Over time, successive, concentric layers of validation are deposited around what started as a passing thought, until it becomes a solid, and unbreakable belief.

As writers, we cannot make a reader believe anything in particular. We can only add our contribution, a minimal layer of mother of pearl, to what the reader is already working towards. Sometimes they agree with what we write, gaining validation. Other times they disagree, which still serves to strengthen what they already believe. Either way, their idea gains substance.

Eventually, with enough shiny layers, the result is a brilliant pearl of wisdom… a personal belief.

It’s interesting that the very thing that makes pearls shiny and valuable (nacre) is rarely valued at all… much like individual blog posts, or isolated conversations. Millions of mollusks are tossed aside, with their mother of pearl intact. It is only considered to be of value when, over time, it adheres to an imperfect irritant, eventually transforming it into a precious gem.

What does this mean for you?

You have the ability to make this a conscious process. It doesn’t have to just happen. The burden is on you to choose the idea seeds you wish to cultivate.

The Dalai Lama stated, “It is not enough simply to wish that love and compassion should increase in us. We need to make a sustained effort, again and again, to cultivate the positive aspects within us – and the key here is constant familiarity. The nature of human thoughts and emotions is such that the more you engage in them, the more you consciously develop them, the more powerful they become.”

Decide for yourself what you would like to stand for, what you think matters, what is worth pursuing. Then put in the time and due diligence to cultivate that thought until it is a solid, and irrefutable belief. If you don’t choose, someone else will gladly choose for you.

“Those Who Stand For Nothing, Fall For Anything” – Alexander Hamilton

Do you know what you stand for?


About the author: Lisis Blackston is a retired blogger who now spends her time taking pictures in Vermont, and can occasionally be found on Facebook.


Photo by k8monster1


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Alison | Quest for Balance May 27, 2010 at 2:31 am

I love the pearl metaphor (and picture), and we can always stand to be reminded that we make choices (even simple ones) every day about how to live our lives. Now let’s see some more of those pictures of VT! : )
.-= Alison | Quest for Balance´s last blog ..10 Things You Should Know About Yourself (aka: “So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish!”) =-.

Lisis May 27, 2010 at 7:22 am

Well, how’dy Ali! It’s been a while, huh? Indeed, it seems even our simplest choices have a way of being self-reinforcing. Once we choose something to focus on, or be attached to, we will find all the validation we need for it. I think it’s healthy to be aware of that process so that what we are creating is something we truly believe in… particularly since there will always be others to oppose and question it!

Kim May 27, 2010 at 3:28 am

I find the title a bit misleading about the point of the post – but at least I read to the end. I agree with Lisis that there is nothing wrong with taking someone else’s opinion and [here is the important bit] making it your own. Just to parrot out “my brother says”, “my dad says”, “[fill in the blank] says” eventually makes me ask – “I know what everyone else says, but what DO YOU think?”
.-= Kim´s last blog .."Two Times Kim" Strikes Again =-.

Lisis May 27, 2010 at 7:29 am

Hey, Kim! Thanks for reading to the very end, despite the title. I must admit, titles have always been my nemesis, since I’m never quite sure how to encapsulate the whole concept in one line. I’ll just say it’s one of the many blogging skills I never mastered. ;)

Definitely, the key here is to make any thought, idea or belief completely your own. Even if it is derived from someone else’s work, or a composite of different ideas, at some point we have to own it. We have to know what starts and ends with us. It isn’t enough to just believe what our parents or community or peers believe, we should choose for ourselves.

The challenging part about this is you have to truly take the time to look within and honor what you find… no matter what it is. Your truth may not look like everyone else’s, but it is the only one you can really stand by.

Thanks for your comment, Kim! :)

David May 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm

That’s my fault Kim. I changed the original title around on a whim yesterday.

Jay May 27, 2010 at 5:54 am

Ahhh it’s so nice to read Lisis’ writing again! Thank you for hosting her, David. :)

I love this post, because it goes to the very heart of my own personal belief system. I think it’s vitally important for us to question our own beliefs and challenge ourselves again and again. Know what you believe, but also know *why* you believe it.

99% of the world’s population never question their own beliefs, and they never grow beyond what they learned as children. If you don’t take the time to question your beliefs, and really understand them, then you can’t help make the world a better place, because you’ll always be trapped in the thinking of the past.

“Free your mind, and the rest will follow.” ~En Vogue

Lisis May 27, 2010 at 7:39 am

Hi, Jay! Fancy meeting YOU here!

When I saw your gravatar, I was reminded of your usual trademark E.E. Cummings quote:

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

THAT is what it is all about… the battle to find, become, and remain yourself in a world that is constantly trying to influence you in a million different directions. It is critical to understand *why* we believe what we do. Did we inherit our beliefs? Were they forced upon us? Or did we know ourselves well enough to choose them?

Thanks for being here, my friend!

Lance May 27, 2010 at 8:32 am

What a wonderful guest you have here today, David!!

Lisis, it’s so awesome to read some of your words again today! Like sitting down with a forever friend, it all feels so right and so YOU.

So, as I read this today – I’m thinking about myself, and how I have shifted over time. A big part of that has come from writing, and from connecting with other souls out there who both offer validation into the beliefs I am striving for, and offer new thoughts and ideas that make me think more deeply about my own personal beliefs.

I’ve definitely had those moments where I wonder…is any of this really worth it? Is it really making any difference (for me or for others)? And that’s been a struggle on certain days. Yet, through it all – I keep coming back to this idea. I can write from my heart. I can read and let the words touch my soul. And that’s enough. If this all happens to somehow provide also some guidance for others, then it’s icing on the cake. (…and I will say that – that icing is deeply meaningful to me…).

Lisis, this is a wonderful post today. I’m agreeing with you…and taking this pearl of wisdom deeper into my own essence.

Much peace to you, dear friend…
.-= Lance´s last blog ..Life, Reflection, and Cancer =-.

Lisis May 27, 2010 at 8:49 am

Thank you, Lance! It’s always so lovely to read your comments… you just warm my heart (almost enough to make me miss blogging!) ;)

This post was inspired by a conversation I had on Facebook, in which I was really questioning the value of all the sharing we do, particularly on the Net. When people are divided on an issue (like politics) they post their passionate opinions, but sway no one. Other times, we write about ideas that have been written and re-written countless times throughout the ages.

I felt so… frustrated? Disappointed? Hopeless? Like I was just adding my useless drivel into an ocean of white noise. This was when I was a blogger. But then I became a blog READER, and suddenly realized the value of information that seems obvious, or repeated, or like “nothing new”.

Some information has been out there forever, but it was never meaningful for me… until now. For example, posts about exercise used to fall on deaf ears (eyes?) with me. But now that I’m focused on that goal, those very same posts are like water in the desert… I can’t get enough of them. The only thing that changed was my perspective, my thoughts and priorities.

When writers put their thoughts out there, that “icing” is meaningful to someone. Maybe not today but at some point, at the right time, the person who needs it will find it.

Your writing, Lance, improves so many lives every day. Thank you for sharing your heart so openly with the rest of us. :)

Tim May 27, 2010 at 11:11 am

We struggle with wondering how much value is contained in our words or works. Sometimes I look at the big picture and see nothing improved by me, and other times it seems like the world hinges around what I do.

As far as blogger vs reader goes, I can’t help but almost know that readers that have never been bloggers are the most influential types of people in the blogosphere. They’re the ones who love and value and will never forget.

Bloggers are into their own thing, and that can really put a mental block in the way of actually absorbing information or ideas that aren’t their own.

I can only imagine what it’s like to be a retiree in the blogosphere. It must be lovely.
.-= Tim´s last blog ..You Fall, You Die, But What Is Death Except Change? =-.

Lisis May 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Hey, Tim! I’ve gotta tell you… this retirement thing feels phenomenal. I suddenly have my life back. I suppose I could’ve had it all along, but I got too wrapped up in my blog and all that goes along with that. It really is so easy to make blogging about ourselves (the writers), while ignoring the effect we have on others… intentionally or not.

It’s a bit like being a parent, and having to be mindful of what we say and do because the little ones are always paying attention, even when it seems like they aren’t. As writers, or communicators of any sort, we need to be mindful of an audience we may not even realize is being affected.

Just make sure you say what you mean, and mean what you say. No one can fault you for keeping it real, whether they agree with you or not.

Thanks for joining the conversation, Tim! :)

Christopher Kabamba May 27, 2010 at 11:32 am

I was speaking at a Toastmasters club meeting 2 weeks ago and this is what i said in my introductory remarks:

“As with any other speech i have given in the past, i am here NOT to teach you anything new; in fact, i am incapable of teaching anybody anything; i am NOT a teacher; at best, i remind people what they already know”

Someone walked up to me at the end of my speech and told me that they found inspiration in those lines. The lines obviously sound like mere rhetoric … but they hold a great truth about all ideas.

A few months ago, i posted something on FaceBook which didn’t go well with a certain Christian brother. According to him, my philosophical deliberations where inconsistent with *The Truth*.

He went further and asked me to backup what i was saying with *proof*. I declined.This is what i said to him:

“If what i have said doesn’t find a “witness” in your heart, Proof won’t do. I am not here to give you conviction. I am here to find a witness of heart.”

When it comes to ideas and philosophies that we espouse, we have different pursuations; that is what makes us individuals.

I have said all this to say this:


Nonviolence, forexample was NOT NEW during Martin Luther King Jnr’s time, but it helped free a people. LOVE is an old idea but it still melts hearts. Compassion is not new to this world but it still changes lives.

What should we say then?

Ideas don’t need to be new or old; recycled or fresh, THEY MUST JUST BE GOOD ENOUGHT TO HELP A WILLING HEART.

And you know what Lisis? That is what you did at Q4B. You are FOREVER appreciated.

.-= Christopher Kabamba´s last blog ..What If This Is As Good As It Will Ever Get? =-.

Lisis May 27, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Hi, Christopher… I don’t even know how to respond to such a lovely comment. All that you have said here is precisely how I feel about it. We can only help a willing heart. If we are honest with ourselves and desire to help others, those willing hearts will always appear.

Your comment reminded me of this passage from a poem by Kahlil Gibran:

Say not, “I have found the truth,” but rather, “I have found a truth.”
Say not, “I have found the path of the soul.” Say rather, “I have met the soul walking upon my path.”
For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself like a lotus of countless petals.

Thank you for yet another beautiful comment, Christopher!

Suzanne May 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm

David, thanks for coaxing Lisis over here to write a guest post. We’ve missed her engaging perspective!

Lisis, thanks for sharing this idea with an intriguing metaphor. The idea of layers upon layers not being meaningful in and of themselves but combining to create something new and substantial had me nodding my head. What a great way to think about our influence…not necessarily as the one and only “aha” moment someone may have (when reading our work) but as a small but important component in human development.

I know that is why I started my blog and was the same for you as well. We want to contribute to and grow humanity.
.-= Suzanne´s last blog ..TCOY Lessons From My Favorite Bloggers (May10) =-.

Lisis May 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Hey, Suzanne! I’m so glad you got that, you really understood what I was going for. I used to get so frustrated, thinking that no matter how good a post was, and no matter how many “aha” moments it seemed to inspire, I wasn’t creating any permanent change. It felt like my best efforts were in vain… until I realized that what is needed is patience, time, and our collective best efforts.

We each contribute our tiny piece of the puzzle which, on it’s own, is probably not enough to change the world. But when we continue contributing our best efforts to those of others, THEN we create something lasting, meaningful, and valuable. Reaching out to help others is never a wasted effort.

Thanks for being here, Suzanne!! :)

Vincent Nguyen May 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Lisis :-)

Welcome back!
It is awesome to read(hear) from you again.
How have you been?

I agree with your thoughts on this post Lisis.
It is totally about the “journey” and not the destination because each thought process we express and share allows us to connect or re-connect with people who makes a difference in our life.
Your energy, ideas and enthusiasm for life is contagious and is a beautiful aura to be around Lisis. Thank you.

Great choice of guest posting David :-)
.-= Vincent Nguyen´s last blog ..Al Pacino’s Inspirational Speech- How hungry are you for your success??? =-.

Lisis May 28, 2010 at 7:03 am

Hey, Vincent! This post is the case in point of what you just mentioned. Here I am, sharing a thought, and suddenly reconnecting with so many of you who have made a difference in my life. Simply by reaching out, we form new bonds and strengthen ourselves, and each other.

Thanks for your awesome comment!

Steven Aitchison May 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Lisis, Great to see you back writing.

This is my favourite topic and your thoughts mirror mine in that we can choose to install new beliefs or look for evidence to refute old beliefs, therefore getting rid of our debilitating beliefs.

You were getting a bit too old for blogging so I can understand why you retired :), honestly great to see you back online.
.-= Steven Aitchison´s last blog ..Free Personal Development Video Course =-.

Lisis May 28, 2010 at 7:08 am

Haha! Indeed! I’m totally on the Senior Citizen track now, going around Vermont, taking pictures of trees, cattle, chipmunks, you name it. I’m searching for the Holy Grail of Vermont photography… the mythical Moose! Maybe when I capture that guy, I’ll get back to blogging. ;)

What you said here is so very true. We have the ability (nay, the responsibility) to shape, mold, cultivate and strengthen only those thoughts which make us (and the world around us) better. Once we are aware we can do it, we have to choose to work towards it. I know you help readers do this every day.

Keep up the awesome work, Steven!!

Lori May 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Now, lookie lookie here. David — you’ve got yourself a live one! ;)
Congrats for getting Lisis on the hook for a guest post. It’s a beauty! This is fun — I feel like I’m at a family reunion.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom, your superb writing prowess, and also for the quotes from the Dali Lama and Alexander Hamilton. Great to see you here, Lisis.
.-= Lori ´s last blog ..Your Anchors =-.

David May 27, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Yes, it’s the blog family reunion :) I am honored to have Lisis guest post here. Clearly she’s well-loved (and well-missed!) in the blogosphere. Good to see so many familiar faces today.

Lisis, thank you :)
.-= David´s last blog ..Why Sharing Our Opinions Matters, Even When They’re Recycled =-.

Lisis May 28, 2010 at 7:14 am

Aww… you guys are just too sweet.

David, thank you for pulling me out of my shell and hosting me at Raptitude. It’s so neat to me that I can now reside in your archives as part of my favorite blog. :)

Lori, I really appreciate you showing up today to greet me here. No blog post of mine is ever complete until your gravatar appears in the comments. You are the keystone of my blogging journey (not that journeys have keystones, but you know what I mean… in a totally mixed-metaphor sort of way.)

Uzma May 27, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Hi Lisis
So good to read this. Often I have discarded writing for I don’t know what to do with it, or rather how it can be of value . But what you say brings it into a new perspective.
A very thought provoking and well written post. Pls write again Lisis, whenever u like, wherever u like. But do write.

Lisis May 28, 2010 at 7:20 am

My dearest Uzma… you, my dear, are like the full moon. I don’t get to see you nearly often enough, but when I do, it’s simply magical.

This post had two purposes in my mind. One, was to encourage the readers to step up to the challenge of knowing themselves and choosing the thoughts and beliefs they wanted to cultivate.

The second, was for bloggers, writers, and anyone who is trying to communicate and not feeling heard to know that everything you share from your heart matters. Even if it isn’t the most original, ground-breaking, earth-shattering message that was ever shared, it matters… to you, and to us. For instance, your poetry is brilliant and heart-warming and needs to be out there for the right person to run across at precisely the right moment.

You have definitely made my world shiny and bright. :)

Isabelle May 27, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Well illustrated! I have also come to realize through my own experience that people have a need to be excited, moved, inspired and motivated in a different way…they have a need to feel that the writer deeply cares!:)
Thank you!
.-= Isabelle´s last blog ..One a Day – For Life!!! =-.

Lisis May 28, 2010 at 7:26 am

Thank you, Isabelle! Absolutely! I think we all have that need to feel like someone cares… anyone at all. As writers we have the rare privilege of being able to reach out to many people at once, sometimes even without being aware of it! But even those who are not writers can do wonders simply by caring.

I recently got on this fitness kick (trying desperately to not hate exercise, as I have most of my life). I started taking yoga and dance classes, and most are quite intense. There’s this one class, taught by an older, frail, gentle woman, that isn’t a hardcore workout at all. But I go every week because she nourishes my soul simply by caring about each and every one of us, and reminding me to take good care of myself. A little TLC can go a LONG way.

Thank you so much for being here today! :)

Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills May 27, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Lisis, so nice to read your words again. What a wonderful and encouraging article this is. We have so much access to such a vast sea of knowledge and wisdom, all we need to do is open up and let it in.

It’s really nice to see so many friends here expressing how happy we all are to hear from you. I love your perspective and the way you weave your words for us. Thank you.
.-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..A Personal Growth Lesson From A Little Bird =-.

Lisis May 28, 2010 at 7:33 am

Hi, Jonathan! Always a pleasure to see you again. I truly hope this article helps to encourage writers who, like myself, get to feeling like there is little or no value in the work we put out there. I had gotten so discouraged at one point, feeling like everything we do know is a waste of time… until I realized that the burden is on me (the reader) to use the vast sea of information out there to polish up and strengthen my own beliefs.

Now I am no longer overwhelmed by all the information I am confronted with because I have found my priorities to use as a sieve. The stuff that helps me, stays with me. All the rest can pass right through and help someone else downstream. What a blessing it is to have access to so many thoughts, ideas, opinions, data, beliefs, what have you.

I’m so grateful to you for being part of this sea of knowledge in which I wade. :)

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) May 27, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Let’s nacre the negative commentors, there are some personal beliefs that I’d like to recycle.
.-= Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor)´s last blog ..Authentic Leadership Development~ Part I =-.

Lisis May 28, 2010 at 7:39 am

Hi, Char! It’s so lovely to see you here. You and I have been Raptitude devotees for quite some time now. That makes you one of my soul sisters. :)

It’s interesting that you mentioned negative comments because I wondered, honestly, if I would receive a few on this post. I know David’s readers have become accustomed to his eloquent masterpieces, and I write these shoot-from-the-hip little bursts of often incomplete thoughts. I was prepared to get skewered, quite frankly.

So far, either they are taking it easy on me, or maybe they decided it’s not even worth arguing about, but I am ever so grateful that each comment has been so beautiful and constructive. I’ve never understood the purpose of a hurtful or insulting comment, even when someone disagrees with the post. I’m a big fan of finding a way to “play nice”.

Thanks for being here! :)

Evita May 28, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Thank you Lisis for stating what you have here.

Your last paragraph went especially deep within my heart, as I often want to make sure to not repeat what I read somewhere else, or even re-iterate my own points in different ways.

But what you said here is very important. If we are to be authentic and make a difference we have to build a strong foundation on it, and sharing things even when already restated adds more energy to whatever topic that we find of value. And this is wonderful when the topics are to help humanity and our whole world.
.-= Evita´s last blog ..Our Spiritual and Global Eating Priorities =-.

Lisis May 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Hi, Evita! It’s so good to see you here!

Oh, I remember when I was blogging, I used to agonize over trying to come up with something original to say. Everything, it seemed, had been thought and said before, so how could I make any difference just by putting MY spin on it? I felt like, if I didn’t have anything NEW to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all.

But when I became a blog READER, and started looking through archives (sometimes several years old) in search of info to help me with my new project, I didn’t care whether it was original or not. I just needed it to be informative and helpful when I stumbled across it.

If what you write can help, educate, or entertain, eventually the right person will find it and be ever so thankful for it. You may never even know just how many lives you’ve touched just by sharing your heart through your writing. :)

Nea | Self Improvement Saga May 29, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Although I strongly believe in opening the mind to new ideas, I also see the importance of cultivating existing beliefs and getting clear on what you stand for. Thanks for posting this.
.-= Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog ..Want to Get More Out of Your Life? The Universe Says Yes =-.

Lisis May 30, 2010 at 7:34 am

Hi, Nea! You’ve brought up a great point here: the art of knowing what you believe while retaining a supple mind, open to possibilities. As we grow and change over time, so do our needs, our values, and our priorities. When we expose ourselves to different ways of living and thinking, we learn new things that weren’t even a possibility for us before.

My feeling on this is something I learned back in high school, from Atlas Shrugged (quoting from memory here): “There are no contradictions. When you are facing one, check your premises. One of them is false.”

I don’t mean this in an absolute sense, like there is ONE Truth. But, if a new idea conflicts with one of my personal beliefs, it’s time to re-evaluate what I have taken for granted. I may find that it’s my own belief that no longer holds true, and it’s time for it to evolve into a new one.

For instance, I’ve had a life-long aversion to exercise, considering it unnecessary pain and suffering. Now I’m finding, it’s not so bad… I’m getting past the suffering to the sheer enjoyment on the other side. I am about to shuck a belief I’ve hung on to for the better part of 37 years because this new evidence (my experience) is compelling enough.

Thanks for bringing this up, Nea. It’s so important not to get “stuck” with such firm beliefs we cease growing.

Rosa June 1, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Lisis Lisis Lisis!
Woo! Woo! Woo!

Lisis June 1, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Haha! OK… You’re HIRED as my official cheerleader! :)

Paramjit June 21, 2010 at 12:12 am

The pearl analogy was awesome. It really puts “Sharing opinions” in a clear perspective. I believe after reading this article, I will make the extra effort at least on my part to get the opinions out. Thanks

Lisis June 21, 2010 at 6:47 am

Thanks, Paramjit! I know it brought me a lot of peace to think of my contributions in this way. By all means, keep sharing those opinions… you never know when someone is being helped along the way. :)

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