The obvious answer to the question 'what are beliefs' is that they are the opinions and convictions that you hold about your life, and your world view.

But there are many layers to the answer about what beliefs are, including the answers to these questions:

* Where do they come from?
* How do they affect your actions?

Where Beliefs Come From

You don't arrive in the world with a filing cabinet full of beliefs, stamped with your name, just waiting for you to bring them to life. Rather, beliefs are adopted and learned, based on what you encounter and experience in your life.

There are 5 sources that provide the main foundation blocks used for building your belief systems:

1. Evidence - scientific or personal experience
2. Tradition - ideas that your family and culture have endorsed for generations
3. Authority - what your teachers, preachers, politicians, medical consultants tell you is true
4. Association - beliefs that your friends live by
5. Revelation - inspirations from personal intuition, dreams and imagination

You'll notice that this list is largely comprised of channels that introduce you to how other people see the world. Through rubbing shoulders with what others believe, you have the opportunity to agree, or to turn your back in disbelief. Only Evidence and Revelation have elements that may rely solely on your own individual experience of the world, as fodder for your belief system.

So, in this regard... what are beliefs? Beliefs are often understandings that other people have introduced to you, and you have adopted. Or, in some instances, they are ideas you have accepted based on your own personal experience.

How Beliefs Affect Your Actions

The manner in which you approach and live your life will stem from the belief system you hold.

Consider the following situation:

* Every day the same homeless person walks down the street outside a busy office building. They are pushing a shopping trolley full of dirty bits and pieces that look like a few clothes, blankets and miscellaneous items. They have a collection tin and sometimes sit down with it placed in front of them. You notice that it is usually the same people that give them a few coins, while there are many that always look the other way when they pass them.

What do you think the determining factor is whether people give them coins or not? It is all in what the passer-by believes, isn't it?

People who give coins are likely to believe:

* my giving a few coins will help this person
* by giving a few coins I might relieve some of this person's discomfort
* perhaps my coins will let this person eat today and find better fortune

Whereas people who do not give coins may be more inclined to believe:

* nothing I can do can help this person
* I don't have enough to be giving to someone I do not even know
* homeless people think other people should take care of them, but they need to take more responsibility for themselves

What are beliefs? This simple example easily shows that they can indeed be a determining factor of the actions you take, or do not take.

It can be enlightening to question how you have come to believe what you do, and how your beliefs are painting the picture of your life. Changing limiting beliefs to empowering ones is perhaps the most powerful way to lift yourself to a life of greater peace, joy and success.

Author's Bio: 

Cathy Johnson Campbell created to encourage people to believe in their dreams, and to offer tools to reach them. She invites you to grab your free eSeries, Belief Insights to Change Your Life,

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