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The Difference Between Belief and Faith

By: Brian Kim - April 25, 2007

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When I talk about belief and faith for the purpose of this article, I’m talking about them in the context of achieving your goals. Both terms refer to roughly the same thing, but there is an unspoken and subtle difference between the two.

Belief is pretty much based on the fact that you’re confident you will achieve your goals. That belief can be based on past experience, logic, or just the fact that you know somebody who achieved a similar goal.

Faith on the other hand, usually brings along with it the implication that it’s needed to achieve those goals that seem out of reach, hence hearing phrases like “taking a leap of faith” when it comes to those types of situations. In other words, that term is usually used in the context of achieving extraordinary goals.

Here are some simple examples to differentiate between the two.

The first man to run the mile in under four minutes – he had faith. The subsequent men and women who were able to match that record – they had belief.

The Wright Brothers, who built a machine which would allow man to fly in the sky - they had faith. Everyone after, who created the shuttle, helicopter, jet, etc- they had belief.

Now what is the relationship between the two, if any?

Belief builds faith.

There’s no such thing as “instant faith”. Faith is a byproduct of several things combined, and at some point, there comes a time where people have to leap off the “belief” train and onto the “faith” train, in other words, take that leap of faith when belief is not enough to justify the thought that the achievement of an extraordinary goal is possible.

What prevents most people from making that leap of faith is the “how” part.

How will it work out?

This is probably the ultimate test of faith as logic begins to conflict with it and because of that, it starts to gets a little muddy here.

You’re hesitating to take a leap of faith because you don’t see how it’s going to work out. It’s easy to see how things will work out when you’re on the belief train, but when you’re attempting to do something that’s never been done before or attempting to do something that is very difficult to achieve, belief is usually not enough. Faith is needed as well. Genuine faith.

But again, it’s hard to have that faith because you don’t see how it will work out. You’ve been on the belief train for so long and the only reason you’ve been on that train is because you see how things will work out, which gives you that belief in the first place, but when that’s taken away from you, it’s hard to make that leap onto the faith train.

Here’s how you can make the leap of faith.

You don’t have to know how it will work out.

You just have that have faith that it will.

Think of it as cause and effect.

Cause – have faith it will work out. Effect – it will work out.

The how part is irrelevant at this point in time. The how part will reveal itself in due time because of your leap of faith. Most people want to know the how in advance, but they’re not willing to pay the piper in the form of faith for it. When you have that genuine faith that things will work out, that in turn will give you the confidence you need to push yourself forward to take action.

For example, imagine you've never had any experience with TVs and remote controls whatsoever and you just bought a huge HD TV and you’ve set it all up in your living room. The TV is plugged in and the remote has fresh batteries. The instruction booklet tells you that all you have to do is press the power button on the remote to turn the TV on, but you don’t. Why?

You hesitate to push the power button because you don’t see how that action turns on the TV. Can you honestly say that you know how pushing the power button on the remote control turns on the TV? Most people probably don’t (I think it has something to do with infrared rays), but case in point, its cause and effect. You have faith that pushing the power button on the remote (cause) will have the effect of turning on the television. You don’t exactly know how that does it, but you just know that it does, so you do it.

That faith was given to you in the form of an instruction manual. It can also be given to you by the fact that your neighbors take the same action and get the same results.

So where can you derive your faith today that you can achieve your extraordinary goals? This is where reading comes into play and that’s why it’s so important that you spend time reading or listening because if you read or hear the stories of those before us who have achieved extraordinary goals, whether they are in autobiographies, books, or videos, you’ll always see that one of the common ingredients is attributed to faith. The stories of those before us are the easiest place to turn to for faith and what you’ll find in all their stories is that their faith led them to take action and the fruits of all their actions in turn, led them to find the how they were seeking in the first place.

But you can’t just read those stories and develop instant faith.

Belief builds faith.

So how do you believe? I wrote an article on that here.

So let’s say your belief is built. How do you make the transition from belief to faith?

Usually, belief is based on sound logic, but jumping to faith requires something much more than just logic and that will be different for each person. Lots of people put their faith in lots of different things due to different backgrounds, cultures, and upbringing, but regardless of where you put your faith, put it in something because once you do that, you develop genuine faith and that in turn, will disengage the logic part of your brain which seeks to unknowingly self sabotage you from moving forward by questioning how it will all work out. Genuine faith removes worry from the equation and promotes optimism and action – key ingredients which will help you find the how which will ultimately make it all work out in the end.

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One Response to “The Difference Between Belief and Faith”

  1. Live The Power » Joy Links-4/28/07 Says:

    […] 5. When it comes to achieving your goals it helps to have belief. But the real magic comes when you have Faith. Faith is deeper, stronger and more powerful. “The Difference Between Belief and Faith” at Brian Kim.net eloquently clarifies the subtle but powerful differences. […]

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