Remaking Your World“We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.”
a sense, we each live in a world of our own making. Out there, the
universe exists in the form of energy vibrating at different
frequencies. Our senses perceive those vibrations and our brain
interprets them. Green light vibrates at a specific frequency that
reaches our eye, and we see what we think everybody else sees as green.
Some people have a shock, often in adulthood, when they discover that
they are color blind and what they have been thinking was green is
perceived by others as orange, for instance. As people age and lose
their ability to hear what others hear clearly, they often have strong
resistance to the realization that their hearing is impaired. Their
perceptual reality has gradually changed and they don’t recognize
it. They can’t see that they don’t hear so well.Practice:
same phenomenon occurs in our emotions. For some people, life is good,
people are kind, and beauty abounds. To others life is hard, people are
cruel, and beauty is a rarity. Our inclination towards a joyful life
depends on our ability to perceive what is good, truthful, wise and
beautiful. If we are overly sensitized to perception of cruelty,
injustice, and our own powerlessness, we will live in a depressing
world of hopelessness and despair.
type of world we live in depends not just upon the quality of the
sensory apparatus we’ve inherited, but upon the quality of the
neural networks we’ve developed in our brain. If we grew up in a
family of musicians, even if we were adopted from a family of
non-musicians so genes weren’t a factor, we would be more likely
to have a more sophisticated appreciation for music. Through exposure
and experience, the brain cells involved in musical activities would
have grown connections and expanded their network. The capacity of our
brain to perceive pitch, rhythm and melody would have been enhanced.
the same way, if we grew up in a house of pain, we would be sensitive
to the hurts life inevitably offers. If we grew up in a loving family,
we would more likely have neural circuits enabling us to feel love and
safety at the same time and the stable sense of self to endure
life’s inevitable hurts without forecasting catastrophe.
how we perceive life and the world around us is determined, in part, by
what we are exposed to, but the good news is that we have some ability
to alter our perceptions through our behavior. Sometimes, our
perceptions are affected by our beliefs. If we change the belief, we
may change the perception.
example, a person raised in a cruel and dysfunctional family has the
belief that nobody cares; people are mean. Then this person gets sick
and winds up in the hospital where the staff are caring, compassionate
and kind. Reality shifts. The belief is shaken and a new awareness of
the goodness of humanity arises.
way we make these shifts is by directing the focus of our attention.
What we focus on largely determines our experience. If we focus on bad
news, the inadequacies of others, the things we lack, we will live in a
darker, bleaker world. If we attend to the happy accidents of life, the
good in others, the blessings in our lives the light goes on. We will
be living in a brighter, more hopeful world and our emotions will
brains like to conserve energy, so our thoughts and perceptions tend to
follow the same paths time after time. We think and perceive
habitually. Some level of habit is necessary and good, but we may feel
happier and more alive if we expand our perceptions and the range of
the range of your potential responses by increasing the breadth of your
awareness. Practice mindfulness. Direct your attention to the
perceptions of the moment rather than the thoughts flowing through your
Take control of the wandering mind and focus your attention with intention.
your faculty of perception. Observe how other people perceive the same
stimuli differently than you do. Try to see what they see. It helps to
be with people of a different disposition than your own, with different
that the universe you live in, the reality that you construct out of
your thoughts and perceptions, is only one of an infinite selection of
possible universes. Practice shifting your reality to one that works
better for you. What would it be like, you can ask yourself, if I were
more confident, if I could feel powerful, if I were more open to beauty
“Reality is what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is what we believe.
What we believe is based upon our perceptions.
What we perceive depends upon what we look for.
What we look for depends upon what we think.
What we think depends upon what we perceive.
What we perceive determines what we believe.
What we believe determines what we take to be true.
What we take to be true is our reality.”
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© 2007 Tom Barrett