Have you heard this phrase? “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is illusion of knowledge.”
Our society really does encourage us to be opinionated experts and this fulfills our need to feel important, valuable and well- regarded. Scan the assertions you see on Facebook or watch a few minutes of the nightly news and you’ll see this in action.
Three Yale psychologists recently published a study in which they concluded that with the Internet’s rise as a leading information source, people get an inflated sense of being akamai.
The World Wide Web can make you feel that you have knowledge, but it actually there is a glut of information without much wisdom.
And then there’s our own life’s experience. As we get older, the experience acquired can sometimes mean that our opinions dominate us so much so that we don’t know how to be a good listener. More importantly, our capacity to wonder has diminished.
My mother named me after the titular character in “Alice in Wonderland” by author Lewis Carroll. Sometimes when I get so caught up in the informed side of things, I like to remind myself of my namesake — a girl who entered a world full of wonder where nothing was as it seemed.
As I have become more expert in areas I’ve studied deeply and intensively — from planetary movement to feng shui to happiness to life leadership — I truly understand the phenomenon of knowing but not understanding and listening but not hearing. I have learned that knowledge is always evolving and joy lives in exploring the unknown.
Here are a few ways to deal with the know-it-all whether it’s the one inside you or someone who shares your life.
>> Self-identify as a life-long learner. When you approach the world as Wonderland, you become a life-long learner. You see the world through a looking glass in which things shift and turn in a kaleidoscope of patterns and colors. The only certainty is that you will never know it all.
>> See the reality that you can be happy no matter what. Is it better to be happy or to be right? This is an important answer that can guide your interactions with others whether they be at the workplace or with your family and friends. It’s OK to just let others think what they think.
>> Cultivate curiosity. When you were a toddler, you probably asked your parents to explain everything. For a while, your favorite word was “why.” That was a glorious age when the world was fascinating and mysterious. Cultivating curiosity can reshape life into an adventure. I love the character in the children’s book “Curious George” by H.A. Rey for that reason.
The best part of coming to terms with the know-it-all inside is that it opens you up to being a better listener. Being present with others allows you to hear them without a mind that’s overwhelmed by what you want to say next.
Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U. Visit yourhappinessu.com.