Opinion | I’m working on having fewer opinions. Here’s why


Natalie van Winden, web editor

There are some things that just don’t matter. To some people, that statement might feel like a personal attack on anything and everything they’ve ever believed. But truly, it doesn’t matter whether I think a hot dog is a sandwich, whether a dress is blue and black or white and gold, or any other viral opinion that has sparked passionate debate that leads nowhere.

I’ve been experimenting with having fewer opinions, and I think I am onto something.

I have to give credit where credit is due – I didn’t come up with the concept of having fewer opinions on my own. I was listening to the podcast “Dear Hank and John,” created by Hank Green and John Green. The two, who are brothers, bestselling authors and viral YouTubers, were talking about shedding opinions, until you are left with just a few core ones.

For example, I no longer have an opinion on Fortnight, Taylor Swift, pizza toppings, Starbucks orders, cockroaches or cheerleading as a sport, to name a few.

It got me to thinking about the way I react in debates: I have a tendency to get defensive when any of my views or decisions are questioned. I don’t like to feel like I’m stupid or wrong in any way. I think this stems from growing up with a twin, who excelled academically and with whom I was always compared.

Without going too deep into the hole of why I’m defensive and have ‘know-it-all’ tendencies, let’s operate on the assumption that for me, giving up my opinions is not easy. Taking a step back has been a conscious mental exercise. Now, when faced with situations where I might normally be ready for a debate, I have to ask myself if my voice would make a difference or add anything to the situation. Most of the time, the answer is no.

I no longer have an opinion on Fortnight, Taylor Swift, pizza toppings … to name a few.”

I have discovered that “no opinion” is a more freeing phrase than I originally thought. Honestly, it’s really fun to see the look on your friends’ faces when you remove yourself from the debate.

Of course, I do think some opinions are really important. When I recently cast my ballot during the midterm elections, I based my vote on my opinions. I consume media on a daily basis that is curated toward me and based on my opinions. And I think kindness, ambition and hope are essential to the betterment of the Anthropocene period (meaning our current geological age, which is viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment).

All of these important opinions are, well, really important. What I’m talking about when I say it’s important to have less opinions about is giving your mind the chance to sub out and sit on the bench on a topic where the outcome of game has already been decided.

I guess my point is to share with you how having fewer opinions has given me mental freedom from triviality and more time to care about things that matter.