How to take care of your epistemic wellbeing?
We made a lot of progress over the years in our understanding of wellbeing. Moving away from being healthy as synonymous with wellbeing, we extended this concept and started looking more holistically on physical and mental wellbeing. But only recently I came across the concept of epistemic wellbeing and I was immediately captivated by it.
Epistemic wellbeing is your reasonably based sense that you’ll be able to know what you want and need to know about the world in order for your life to go well. There are three components of epistemic wellbeing: access to truths; access to trustworthy sources of information; and opportunities to participate in productive dialogue.Kenneth Boyd
I immediately started thinking about practices to take care and improve my epistemic wellbeing. At first, I identified a few (e.g. scheduling downtime, resting my mind, *not* thinking for some time) that well, are so much more foundational that they really classify as basic wellbeing. So I started focusing more on the aspect of knowing, and I began to develop my epistemic wellbeing practices.
Know what you know for sure
I spent some time identifying the basic tenets that I know 100% are true and I can trust them. They came in a variety of forms, but in general they all bear characteristics of unshakeable facts that I just know are true. These became the foundation for my epistemic wellbeing. Whatever new information I come across, I can always see how it relates to these basic truths. And if I’m facing extreme doubt and uncertainty, I have these solid pillars to fall back on.
Know how to think
Drawing on my long-established journey to become a better thinker, I realised that knowing your own thinking processes, the styles that come more naturally to you, your own biases and assumptions – in other words, simply knowing how you think, is an essential foundation for your epistemic wellbeing. This means that I am aware how I process information and how I gain knowledge. I also know when this process is impaired (for example when I’m tired or hangry) and I can protect my epistemic wellbeing from attacks in this more vulnerable state.
Know how to question
I realised that an essential element of my epistemic wellbeing is the ability and need to question all new information I receive, no matter if it conforms to my truths or goes against them. To maintain my good epistemic condition, I always asses all new information I receive, never simply just accepting it.
Know how to be thinkful
I developed thinkfulness, consciously adopting a structured approach to thinking in order to understand and change the world. It is based on the idea of using a 7-step structured approach to thinking. This means that instead of just casually thinking, I have a process – a repeatable, dependable, proven process of thinking. Deploying this process leads me to a much more robust understanding that I can trust.
Know your sources
I identified sources of information that I trust. This doesn’t mean I always take everything they publish as true, but I know their editorial policies, political stances and approaches to transparency. This includes websites, newspapers and publications. I know what to expect from them and this keeps me in a state of epistemic wellbeing.
Know your people
Knowing is a shared practice. We learn things from others and we share them with others. I discovered that having a close group of people whose judgment, opinion and advice I trust when it comes to knowledge is essential for me. I may turn to this group when I doubt the truthfulness of a piece of information, when I struggle to reconcile different views, or when I simply need someone to discuss an issue with so I can arrive at a state of knowing.
And you, how do you care for your epistemic wellbeing?If you’d like to learn more, subscribe to Lessons in Thinkfulness and receive free, weekly lessons designed to help you become more thinkful at work, in business and in life.