We enter this world a blank slate. We have no conception of reality, or even ourselves. And we have nothing to go off of except our instincts. Thankfully, we're given a set of tools to help us navigate: our senses. These tools act as gateways to the outside world. Through them, we can interact with and experience pieces of reality.
As the experiences pour in, our most important tool — our mind — attempts to connect the dots and assemble the puzzle pieces into a coherent picture. This picture represents our beliefs, opinions, tendencies, and behaviors — it is our understanding of and orientation towards reality.
But by definition, this understanding is incredibly narrow. It's only based on the small sample of the world we've actually engaged with. We can “import” information from other people, but because we're largely biased and irrational, we're still mostly stuck with what we've personally experienced.
At the same time, we can't wait to develop a comprehensive understanding of reality to start living. If we did, our entire existence would be spent in paralysis. So, to help us move and survive, our minds take the liberty of filling in some gaps. This means doing some combination of (a) extrapolating from what we’ve experienced, (b) stealing from others' experiences, and (b) flat-out making shit up. The end result is what our mind convinces us is a "coherent" picture of reality.
The problem is that if we're basing our thoughts and actions off of this picture, it's not only incomplete, it's incorrect. We just said that our picture has some faulty pieces. Yet we use this picture as our compass for navigating this incredibly enormous and complex universe. Since our picture isn't accurate, we have no way of telling if our thoughts and actions are misguided or inconsistent with reality. So, with this realization we're left with a couple options.
First, we can continue using the picture we've spent years assembling — the one that has gotten us this far. Yes, it may be faulty, but at the end of the day we're still alive, aren't we? Or second, we can make the decision to re-work our picture — to add, remove, and re-assemble the pieces.
This first option is far easier and more comfortable. We get to do what we've always done, and no one can fault us for that. In fact, it's what the vast majority of us have already chosen to do.
The second option, on the other hand, is far harder and it has a lot of unknowns. It requires humility and admitting that we know very little. It requires a willingness to unlearn and re-learn. But, by re-working our picture, we have a chance to align our understanding with reality — with the way things really are. And in turn, we have the potential to go where we actually want to go in life.
It's not to say that we'll ever understand everything — that we'll grasp all truth. That's not possible, nor is it the point. The point is to pursue better living. The point is to move ever-closer towards health, wealth, and fulfillment.