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The On Being Project

Regaining Trust in Ourselves and Seeing Each Other Whole

The visionary sociologist Peter L. Berger died on Tuesday at the age of 88. He once predicted that religion would lose ground in a pluralistic modern world, but later modified his stance. He once told Krista:

“I’ve described modernity as a gigantic transformation from destiny to choice. People must choose what they believe, how they define themselves, how they are to live, which is quite a burden. It can be a liberation, but it’s also a burden. And then you have to ask, what are the ways in which people can cope with this loss of taken-for-granted status?”

(Jacob Silberberg / Getty Images )

We featured Mr. Berger in our 2006 episode “Globalization and the Rise of Religion.” It’s fascinating to revisit this conversation ten years later. Give it a listen and let me know what you hear. You can reach me at [email protected] or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.

A Word from Our Columnists

 (UCI UC Irvine / Flickr / Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs)

Courtney Martin | We Have to Eradicate Our Own Self-Doubt

“We lie in bed replaying a conversation from the day, wondering if we said what we meant, if we were understood, if perhaps we should revisit the topic with a different angle at a later date. We can’t stomach another retrospective inquisition.”

Do we second-guess ourselves to the point of poisoning the trust in our own abilities? Our Friday morning columnist says that leaning into your instincts, even in its messiness, is the best course of action.

(Gustavo Gomes / Flickr / © All Rights Reserved)

Omid Safi | I Am Not Your Other
How might our structures and our spirits change to acknowledge each other’s full humanity? Omid reflects on the experience of being institutionally invisible — and being acknowledged:

“Being seen for who we truly are in private and intimate relationships is the stuff of friendships and love. Being seen in public for who we truly are is about belonging.”

(Owen Lin / Flickr / Attribution-NonCommercial)

Parker Palmer | There’s a Place for Every Question in the Vast Container of Nature
Who doesn’t love Mary Oliver?! Parker looks to one of our favorite poets for modeling dazzlement and living out life’s big questions with grace.

And, I’d Like to Point You to These Two Things…
Pscychology Today | Are Smartphones Making Us Stupid?
Just having your smartphone within eyesight — even if it’s face-down on your desk and you’re in your most focused state — reduces your cognitive capacity and fluid intelligence.

Seth Godin | Two Confusions
My morning routine consists of myriad daily doses of activity that’s bad for me. I don’t wake up to an alarm clock, but I often don’t sleep long enough. Despite research showing that mobile devices are pattern disruptors of sleep cycles, I plant my iPhone on my nightstand after reading the news each night. As soon as I wake up, I often open up my laptop and begin answering emails and editing columns rather than opening up a good book, meditating, or taking a morning walk. This is all to say that I know what I should be doing, and often don’t. Self-judgment and guilt are mixed up in this flow, but Seth Godin’s morning post cautions against this:

Those things you’re bad at? You’re not nearly as bad at them as you fear. And those things you’re great at? Probably not nearly as good as you hope.

We beat ourselves up a lot, but often focus on the wrong areas, avoiding the soft spots and doubling down on the places where we are well armored. Mirrors are a fairly new invention. For millennia, we had little idea what we looked like. And only in the last two generations have people had any clue about what they sounded like. Today, even though we’re surrounded by sound, video and light reflecting on us, not to mention comments and the social media maelstrom, we’re still quite bad at self-judgment.

You’re better than you think you are.

May the wind always be at your back,

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