I came across The Puzzler by A.J. Jacobs, listening to a podcast interview and overall I thought the book was pretty good. The author travels the world researching all kinds of puzzles, many I’ve never heard of. I can’t say I loved it, but it was fun to learn about the many different types of puzzles that exist and how he discusses their application to life. I did love this one quote from the book.

Speaking about crossword puzzles Jacobs says “The Way of the Eraser is about being okay with mistakes, okay with tentative beliefs, okay with flexibility. I could be wrong, of course, but I believe that my years of crossword solving have made me more flexible in every part of my life, from parenting to writing to marriage.

“I have one core belief: don’t be an a**hole; be kind to others. That one’s written in pen. The rest of my beliefs are all in pencil. They are hypotheses waiting for updating on new evidence, ready for the eraser.

“As the great philosopher Bertrand Russell said, certitude is a dangerous thing. ‘The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.’”

My first thought is the value of kindness as a guiding principle in my life. I don’t always succeed but I’m getting better. I want to be kind in every interaction. Do you strive for kindness?

My second thought is that Bertrand Russell’s quote defines our time in history. We have lost the ability to have rational, meaningful discussion because so many are so sure of their position and knowledge. They have lost the ability to find compassion and understanding for those who think or act differently than them. Are you willing to try to see someone else’s perspective no matter how crazy it seems? Remember, what people think and do makes sense to them.

I love the quote attributed to Socrates, “The more I know, the more I realize I know nothing.” Have your “certainties” in life kept you from seeking understanding and finding love for your fellow man? Have they kept you from finding truth that will lift you from your struggles? I think if we approach life as Mr Russell suggests, we might feel a little less sure of our position but a little more sure that we’re on the right path.

I’d love to hear your thoughts below…

  • Hill
    2 years ago
    I loved that quote about the stupid being cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt bc I can see where I’m sometimes both of those people. Great post🙌🏻