Beliefs are harder to change than opinions, because in order to do so we have to pit new evidence against our strong feelings! This is difficult, cognitively expensive, and often we double-down on our feelings and simply get angry instead of evaluating the evidence. (My hypothesis is that it's often neurologically easier to intensify an emotion than it is to evaluate evidence contrary to an existing belief.)
Whenever we share our convictions we usually state them as if they're facts, which we are convinced that they are, since they're something we have learned. When others ask for evidence to support our claims of factuality we sometimes can't deliver and simply respond with "because it just is," with a sense of exasperation.
Thats the cost of the exchange that occurs when beliefs mature into convictions. But the benefit of the exchange is that it frees our thought cycle for new observations, new thoughts, and new evidence on which we can form new beliefs and thereby continue learning.
This is why its easier for us to form new beliefs than change our existing ones; we cant easily recall and reevaluate all the old evidence we've put out of circulation.
In this train of thought (i.e. sequence of thoughts), the "thought cycle" is described thus:
- 1 recurring thought ("right angles")
- One perceptual input ("roads")
- 5 internally derived thoughts ("squares", "right angles", "angles of roads", "right angles", "angles of squares")
- 4 thought vector progressions between related thoughts
- 2 cross-referenced thoughts ("angles of roads", "angles of squares")
- 16.% (1 in 6) of thoughts were cycled in the train of thought twice, meaning it was "cycled" in the train of thought.
Notice how much data is generated from just 6 sequential thoughts! Now consider that our day-to-day trains of thought are far more complex than this. They're non-stop! Trains of thought tens of thousands of thoughts long that generally include everything from the right amount of toothpaste to use, to what other people think of the way you look, to the state of the economy. The thoughts we cycle change in frequency according to our interests, our perceptions, and the direction of our attention.
Since thoughts derive beliefs, and our beliefs determine our behaviour, it's wise to have an awareness of our own thoughts. And from time to time ask ourselves the question: "What is the most valuable thought I could think?"