You might be tempted to think it is too obvious when I say that you should think for yourself. And yes, I assume that you are already thinking for yourself and I appreciate it!
What I mean by saying “think for yourself” is to even have a clearer look into how you create your opinion. You should be incredible clear what parts of your opinion is build on your own core and your own personal identity and what is build on external patterns.
We humans all have the need to feel loved and accepted by our environment. We all want to belong to a community, let it be our company, friends & family or the Sunday afternoon chess club. We all want to fit in and get along with our environment.
Therefore it is so easy for all of us to just adapt to our surrounding, to not speak up your personal truth and not show our edges.
To really think for yourself, you have to have a pretty clear understanding of who you are, how your mind is working (as your mind can be tricky and even fool yourself). If your mindset is like an unclean kitchen, it might be difficult to think clearly for yourself.
And if you cook in the kitchen by only relying on what is stated in your cooking book, you might be able to serve a nice dish for diner. But the diner will not be a meal created by you and your creativity but rather a result provided by the algorithm of your cooking book. It is exactly the same with opinions.
A good friend of mine comes from a very conservative family. She adapted their way of thinking, took their value system into hers and is mainly repeating what her parents told her when she was a little girl. Another friend of mine is daily reading the same kind of journal so her opinion on the world is crucially influenced by the news source she daily digests. In both cases, their opinions on a certain topic can certainly be theirs but there is a risk that they reflect more what is said within the family or what is written in the news.
Opinions are taken over if there is no other source of information available.
Therefore, it is crucial to keep a fresh and open mind by gathering as many divers sources of information as possible. Sometimes, it also helps to completely change the source of information. Sometimes, it helps to put yourself in a different social environment as taking part at the Burning Man Festival, staying in magic Ubud or joining the local tennis club.
Whatever it is, diversity will keep your mindset free and open.
It comes without saying that if you want to think for yourself you not only have to have something to think about but you also have to do the thinking.
This is work.
You are right: following an already pathed street is the easier option. But then you will always be a follower and you miss the chance to express yourself.
Do you really want that?