“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen, and philosophers, and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hards words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hards words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood. Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagorus was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is the be misunderstood.”
What is Emerson trying to convey here?
He wasn’t using consistency in the context of persistency. If you want to be successful at anything, it takes persistence. It takes practice. It takes training. This true and this is obvious.
Ralph was using consistency in the context of a closed mindset, and not having awareness to be open minded. Foolish Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. I think of bigotry. I think of intolerance. These consistent viewpoint are certainly foolish, and also detrimental to society. They stall change and stunt the growth for reaching a higher consciousness as a collective human species.
On a personal level, the old saying applies to Ralph’s quote, “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, your going to keep on getting the same results you’ve always gotten.” Change is vital. Mix up your days a little bit. Change up your routine. Change up your diet. Change up your exercises. See what happens.
Recently, I changed my morning routine. In the mornings I would meditate, journal, and read for an hour or so. In the afternoons, I would get to my writing or my projects. Over the last few months, I hit a wall.
I realized I was putting all of my energy at my high energy point in the day (mid mornings) towards absorbing versus producing. Not only was I using my high energy point for reading, but it was like I was avoiding my writing and projects. I was subconsciously delaying the hardest part of my day.
So I changed my schedule. I now write in the mornings after breakfast when I have the most energy. Meditation, journaling, and reading in the afternoons. This changed everything. My writing has been much more productive the last 2 weeks.
It would have been foolish consistency had I not changed my routine, just because I felt I had to knock out my balanced list of rituals first.
Be open minded about your viewpoints. Don’t be afraid to change your opinions. Don’t be afraid to contradict the beliefs you’ve had in the past. Don’t be afraid to change your routine.
Be open minded to change. To change is to live.