Perception is the way in which we experience the world around us. It is the belief system that shapes us, stimulates us, and motivates us.
Perception has been defined as the process of becoming aware of the world around us through our senses. It can be a feeling, an opinion, an observation, or an insight. It is our intuition, our recognition, our discernment of perceived stimuli in our environment. How we perceive, interpret and respond to these stimuli is influenced by our past encounters, our feelings, our imagination, our values, our memories, our beliefs, our expectations, and our cultural setting.
What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.
It also depends on what sort of person you are.
C.S Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
Do you see an old woman or a young woman in this picture?
My challenge is to think about the link between my perception and my behavior and employ some positive thinking to challenge and change some of my irrational and dysfunctional core beliefs.
Perception allows us to experience the world by a complex system in which environmental stimuli impress us through our senses, followed by a cognitive process of those stimuli, which then produces a reaction in response to those stimuli. Everything in our environment has the potential to attract our attention and begin the process. The selected object that garners our interest is called the attended stimulus. This is may be familiar stimuli – such as our surroundings in the morning as we get ready for work, or unfamiliar stimuli, such as a truck that runs a red light and rolls into our path as we are driving home. Thus begins the physical process of perceiving, processing, and recognition based on the message that the brain and nervous system receives. The final step in the perceptual process involves some action/reaction. This may be a physical response, such as running toward a helpless victim to offer assistance. Or confronting the driver of that truck.
Chances are that at the end of the physical perceptual process, the action or reaction that occurs is based upon the sum total of the input that we have stored over the years.
The factors that influence our perception are every bit as important as the attended stimulus. This explains why people who see the same thing may attach an entirely different meaning to it. A number of factors residing in the mind of the individual and/or in the target object, or in the circumstance of the situation, can shape and often distort perception. The context in which we see objects, such as work, home, social settings, including time of day, noise, lighting, movement, etc. can contribute to our perception. Also the size, proximity, novelty of the target stimuli has some bearing on our view. A target stimulus is perceived based on its relationship to its background and situation. For example, compare your perception of a woman dressed in a bikini on the beach to that same woman if she walked into a fancy restaurant.
All of this in combination with our preconceived storehouse of feelings, emotions, attitudes, interests, expectations, frustrations, motives, and so on contribute to how we perceive what we see. And since no one has the exact same point of view as we do, we sometimes see the exact same thing quite differently. Take this familiar object:
How do you see this glass?
The reality is (based on a consensus of opinion) that this is a picture of a glass with something in it. Again, research has suggested that it is a picture of a glass with a liquid, presumably water. The question is – again based on historical (rather than empirical) data – is how much water?
The perceptions outlined below are (based on a lot of time and money spent by a lot of business leaders, psychologists, and other great thinkers) indicative of how some of us might assess that glass of water!
- The Optimist: The glass is half full.
- The Pessimist: The glass is half empty.
- The Salesperson: How much water would you like your glass to hold?
- The Accountant: Does the glass really need all that water?
- The Attorney: If there are enough people on one side of this issue I can file a class action suit.
- The Investment Banker: I’m only 50% leveraged.
- The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
- The Quantum Physicist: The glass has a 50% probability of holding water.
- The Philosopher: If nobody looks at the glass, who’s to say whether it’s half full or half empty?
- The Politician: Let’s take a poll and then I’ll render my opinion as to how full or empty the glass is.
- The Servant Leader: Whatever the amount of water, I’ll use it first to quench the thirst of those I lead.
- The Author: If I cut the water count by 50%, I could sell it as a short story.
Can you add to the list?
Our behavior is influenced greatly by our perception. We make choices and decisions daily based on knowledge, experiences, and emotions that have been formulated from our past encounters. Personal bias and misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations can be a part of our perception of people, events, and situations. This is all a vital part of our core belief system. In our personal struggle to survive and to succeed, we often fail to “see the other side”.
What is important is that your perception is your reality. Since that is true for each of us we must try to understand one another’s perceptions and accept the differences.
- Set aside a time and place where you can reflect upon your perceptions
- List 5 experiences that you have had that were traumatic and/or catastrophic
- List 5 perceptions that you have about yourself that you feel are negative
- List 5 perceptions that you have about someone else that you feel are negative
- Recall any event, situation, circumstance that caused your negative perceptions
- Examine the roots and the instance of any irrational perceptions
- Reflect on what can produce a more pleasing perception
- Focus on creating a new reality where the circumstance and the outcome are better
- Rethink the way you see others: remember they have their own perception pack
- Reinterpret the way others see you: give yourself freedom to be who you really are
- Talk to others about your feelings and misperceptions – they may share your quest
Use the above reflection to focus on your perception of yourself and of other people and circumstances. And realize that perceptions can – and sometimes should – change as you grow and reinterpret yourself.
Life is like a kaleidoscope. As we look into one end, light enters into the other shining on the different particles and reflecting off the mirrors, floating, moving, changing, creating different patterns with a slight twist from the viewer.
“We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.”Read More
Purpose is at the core of our lives. It is the spirit that guides us, propels us, and motivates us.
Purpose has been defined as our reason for living, the basis for which something exists, a goal, desire, or aim, an intention, decision, or resolution. For centuries, we have attempted to define purpose, find its essence, and apply it to our lives. Its true value often eludes us and seems to fall from our grasp. I think that is because as we go through life and our circumstances change, our purpose changes.
Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
My challenge is to live a life of purpose. I have decided that to accomplish this I must know what that means for me. Earlier I wrote a blog, FIND YOUR PASSION. It’s hard to know what should come first – knowing my passion or my purpose. But I have decided that for me, they go hand in hand.
You have to find your purpose, what that means for you in the here and now, then determine to follow it. Listen to your heart.
- Set aside a time and place where you can relax and think about your life
- Make a list of 5 things that you love to do, that excite and inspire you
- Make a list of 10 of your talents , skills, and abilities
- List 5 things you have done to help others
- List 5 things that you would you do if you could do anything
- Recall your passions – what excites you, sparks your creativity
- Recall what people say to you – what kinds of compliments do they give you
- What would you regret never having done with your life
Use the above reflection to decide your purpose in life. And know that as you grow, your life purpose may change.
Life is a journey and each step may lead you to a place where you need to reexamine and redefine your purpose. That’s okay. No need to worry or feel failure.
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
Helen KellerRead More
Passion plays a vital role in our lives. It invigorates us, inspires us, and identifies our goals.
Passion has been defined as a powerful emotion, a boundless enthusiasm, excitement, fervor, fire, zeal, and a boundless intensity. For centuries artists, authors, and lovers have attempted to define, diffuse, and display it. Most of us can agree on one thing – it is a driving motivation, often uncontrollable, uncontainable, and unmanageable.
Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.
You have to find your passion, and then follow it. Listen to your heart.
- Find a quiet place to slow down, relax, meditate
- Listen to your heart, focus on what touches you, excites you, inspires you
- Explore those things that interest you, drive you, stimulate you
- Think about those things that you like to do, talk about, think about
- Recall the dreams and the desires of your youth
- Make a list of 5 things that you want
- Make a list of 5 things you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail
- Make a list of 5 things you are good at
- What would you do to make a better life for yourself, for others
- What would you regret never having done, accomplished
What are the things that you can’t get out of your head? The ones that nag at you? Creep up into your subconscious and demand to be heard, recognized, and validated?
Ponder these things. Examine and explore your possibilities. Find your driving force. Your purpose. Your passion. Then go for it!
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
Nikos Kazantzakis (1885-1957) Greek writerRead More