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Cleo Abram

Student , Columbia University - Columbia College

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We can learn by exchanging and discussing our own lists of "10 Things I Know to be True."

After listening to Sarah Kay's beautiful speech and poetry, I tried to write my own list of "10 Things I know to be True." I learned one thing immediately: I don't know much. I learned a second thing more slowly: that's okay! I tried to distill my limited understanding of the world into this list, without being overly philosophical nor literal.

One thing I know to be true, but that is not on my list, was that Sarah Kay was right when she said that if you share your list with a group of people you will find that someone has one thing very similar, someone else has something totally contrary, another person has something you've never heard of, and still another has something that makes you think further about something you thought you knew.

So let's share ours, and find out! What do your lists have on them?

Here's mine:
1. Fiction can, at times, feel more real than fact.
2. One person, with a good idea, can change our world.
3. There are things about our universe that we will never understand.
4. #3 is not an excuse to stop trying.
5. Everyone has a story worth hearing.
6. There is always another side to the story they tell.
7. Questions can sometimes teach more than their answers.
8. Children can sometimes teach more than their parents.
9. Everyone should travel.
10. No one's truth is universal.

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    Oct 22 2011: 1. The past can never be fixed, the only release is to choose to stop caring about it, and no, that doesn't make one a bad person.
    2. The more one's mind is like a child's, the faster one will learn.
    3. All states of mind are a conscious choice.
    4. Inner strength begins with knowing who you are, being proud of who you are, then becoming absolutely uncompromizing on your values.
    5. Empathetic people are at risk of becoming manipulative and corrupt once they start to understand other peoples feelings a little too well, and how easy it would be to control them.
    6. The true test of a leader is not to become cynical after you realize how stupid the world is.
    7. One should not believe anything in it's entirety unless they are themselves the witness, and even then, one should reflect upon it and criticize ones judgement before making a decision.
    8. To claim ones faith is correct is a paradox. One does not have faith unless they accept the possibility that they could be wrong. If there was no possibility of it being wrong, then it would simply be fact.
    9. Families are more successful the more they act as a single entity, financially, emotionally, and otherwise.
    10. Money has no real value, and its purpose has been heavily perverted over the past 200 years. (probably longer)
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      Oct 23 2011: QUOTE: "3. All states of mind are a conscious choice."

      I've met a few people with mental illnesses who might not agree with this one. They would gladly choose another state of mind, if they could.

      And I don't think we can choose our genes - for example, our serotonin-transporter gene can come in two "flavours;" one with long alleles or one with short alleles. We could have two long, two short, or one of each allele. All else being equal, if we have two short alleles, we are twice as likely to experience depression than if we had two long alleles.

      How about, "Most states of mind are a conscious choice?"
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        Oct 23 2011: I think you are confusing a state of mind with a condition of mind sir.
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          Oct 23 2011: That is a possibility. How do you make the distinction?
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        Oct 23 2011: A state of mind is a variable that falls inside the boundaries of ones mental condition.
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          Oct 23 2011: So are you saying if my friend Stephen, who is schizophrenic, is agitated by the voices he hears in his head (which he is from time to time) he is in control of his state of mind to the extent he can, say, choose which voice he listens too, how agitated he will become, and whether or not he will physically react to it?

          He can't, not yet anyway, it's a hypothetical question.

          It's your list of course - and I would agree most of us can choose our state of mind, most of the time - but I am not convinced all states of mind are a choice.

          Maybe we can pursue it, in more depth, at another time.
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        Oct 23 2011: I would say that your friend cant control what voices he hears, as obviously thats his condition. I do however believe that he has a choice to let those voices bother him. unless of course he has another condition that inhibits him from tuning it out, like autism. As for his physical reaction, most likely that is triggered by involuntary motor controls of the brain, which I would say is a condition of everyones brain. I'm honestly just trying to explain the difference, I know its not as simple as most people think lol.
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          Oct 23 2011: QUOTE: "I do however believe that he has a choice to let those voices bother him."

          Again, it is a possibility but, if he does have a choice, he has yet to discover at what level the choice is to be made and applied.

          A long time ago, I engaged in a kind of "magic thinking," and I used to think, we could choose our way out of mental illnesses - and the concomitant states of mind they engender - I don't think that anymore.

          Thanks for the clarification of your point.
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        Oct 23 2011: no problem, I added a bit to the above comment. The simplest way I can put it is, if it is impossible for someone to control and will always occur regardless, that is a mental condition. If it is changable, then it is a state of mind. My original point on my list "all states of mind are a conscious choice" was simply to clarify that if it's possible to change your mood or state of mind at all about something, then it is possible to change your mood or state of mind completely about something no matter how difficult. It more directly relates to emotional reactions than anything else.
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        Oct 23 2011: If you want you can replace "state of mind" with "mood" or "feelings toward" if that makes more sense. State of mind is the same thing though. "state of mind" is only a temporary psycological condition by definition. Mental condition is a where the factors of the problem (or "difference" as I like to put it.) are constant.

        The best analogy I can give you is to think of a persons mental condition as rocks in a stream. A state of mind would be the water flowing down the stream. When the water hits a rock, it has no choice but to flow around it. But on its own, its free to choose where to go.
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          Oct 23 2011: Good analogy.

          There is a phrase I like, "Good enough parenting." As in kids will turn out all right if they get "good enough parenting." I forget who said it. (Maybe Marshal Rosenberg???)

          Anyway, I think if our mental health is "good enough" we would, in virtually any situation, be free to validate Victor Frankl's famous dictum:

          "Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

          And the latitude of "good enough" does seem to be broad indeed. But on those rare and distant parts of the chart where the cartographer inscribes, "Here Be Dragons," choice might be curtailed considerably.

          I expect we are in general agreement.

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