Martin Rue

I build things on the internet.

What have you changed your mind about?

This question is my secret weapon to create interesting conversations. Aimed at the right target, it cuts right to the good bits.

When getting to know somebody for the first time, it's a great question to ask to get a better sense of who somebody is, how open-minded they are, how interesting they are.

Tip: but not on a first date, or the answer may become "you".

It's an even better question to ask yourself.

As humans we act without complete information, we act based on emotion, we do things we think are good for us to discover later they're not. We learn things that are incorrect. We're influenced by people around us that do more harm than good. Society puts us in boxes we struggle to get out of. Life offers us wisdom, and sometimes we take it and sometimes we don't.

Responding to these experiences we reflect, adapt, and experiment. To what degree is usually discovered nicely by this question, especially when you're the interviewer and interviewee.

It creates sides, and asks "Where have you been, and where are you now?" It maps out a journey of thoughts to reveal what's important. Of course, it can also become quite philosophical, in which case add a good wine and you have yourself an evening.

I have a lot of attention and respect for those who lead examined lives (to use the antonym of a well-known quote). People who explore their own lives tend to be more opened-minded, do more unusual and interesting things, find experiences outside of the societal norms, and in doing so exude an ever-changing map that others can use for new travel ideas.

In my own case, a good example is how I've changed my mind about money and happiness.

When I was younger I believed that happiness came from what I had – the more the better. Pay rise at work? That's a good thing. A bigger, more expensive apartment? Yes I want that. An important-sounding job title and more responsib... Sorry to interrupt but where do I sign?

To be clear, I'm not saying any of those things are bad things, it's all very personal to you and what gives your life meaning. For me, I've changed my mind about all of those things.

If I was advising my 10-year-ago self, here's what I'd say:

Firstly, I know you don't want to listen because you're convinced you've got it figured out, but you haven't. The very fact I've just arrived from 10 years into the future really ought to be enough to demonstrate that, so listen up:

Money is a necessity to live, but it's no more than that. Desire less, spend less, and you'll need to earn less. Spend more time with your thoughts. Introspect to learn who you are, but consider who you could be. Experiment with as much stuff as you can to discover what makes you feel joy and peace, then fill up the majority of your time that way. Hint: it won't be work. Where you live is not even 1% as important as what you do with your time. Health and time are your only assets, spend them much more carefully than you will. Improving the first will not only give you more of the second, but let you experience it with a different sense of quality.

I live differently to how I lived 10 years ago. I value some different things, and some things differently. While my answer is a very personal one, it's good to see mileage between things I considered good 10 years ago and now consider bad. That mileage is perspective, which should be part of any balanced diet.

So ask yourself the question. Ask interesting people to create interesting conversations. Ask "why?" to dig deeper. Remind yourself that your beliefs can change, and that great perspective can come out of challenging them.

What have you changed your mind about?