“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
Visualize, if you a can, a stranger.
Maybe they’re walking toward you on a street you’ve traveled many times before?
What does their face look like? What are they wearing? How old are they?
Try to hold that image in your mind.
They say all strangers look alike, but that isn’t actually true, is it? You’re a stranger, I’m a stranger. We’re all utterly unfamiliar to the vast majority of fellow homo sapiens scattered around this planet. How we imagine a fictitious stranger, can reveal a great deal about ourselves, our society at large. For instance, if you imagined an intimidating and seemingly menacing stranger, leering at you as you pass one another. For whatever reason (justified or not), you have cultivated a negative representation of a variable that could have been anything, it was up to you. So why then, did you create this specific depiction?
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction (Newton’s Third Law). Throughout the course of your existence, whether you like it or not, every experience impacts you in some way. A momentary childhood interaction with an aggressive dog (for some) is enough to lead to a lifetime fearing them. In fact that can be a common cause for cynophobia (fear of dogs).
A single event can reshape our entire worldview. The shop attendant knows that robberies often take place, but it isn’t until he/she is staring down the barrel of a gun that they truly comprehend the reality and seriousness of the crime. It’s these experiences (along with other factors) that shape our choices, form our judgements.
Even now, how you respond to this article of text, is based on how it appeals to your taste. If you have read something covering the same topic, which was simpler to understand, more insightful, then your opinion of my attempt would be justifiably low. Alternatively, it could strike all the right chords with someone else. The subject could also bore, offend, annoy, make some people sad, some happy. The possibilities for interpretation are as numerous as there are people.
We can attempt to be objective in our interpretation of the world around us, but it appears that our subjective worldview is often the dominant and default setting in our day to day lives. Which overall, is a good thing. Having different views, different opinions is paramount for the survival (and quality of life) of our species. Otherwise we face stagnation. The exploration of thought should never be restricted to some set standard. Often the most memorable things in our lives, are the shocking things that no one expected, because they deviate so far from the norm. Unhindered thought evolves and adapts to a changing world. After all, change is the only certainty.
We can all appreciate the value of perspective when it comes to the viewing of a performance or sporting event. Generally, the closer you are to the event, the more you will witness and enjoy. As opposed to those who are further away, whose seating in some instances is sold at a reduced price, due to the visual and audible losses.
Consider this hypothetical scenario:
Five individuals could walk down the same street, yet embark on five separate journeys. One woman notices the scattered rubbish lining the street, she hates filth. One man catches a glimmer of something shining on the ground, he’s pleased to have found a coin. One woman, stumbles and feels momentarily embarrassed. The woman behind her, tries not to laugh. Lastly, a blind woman cautiously makes her way through the crowd, she hasn’t left her home in some time, but she must force herself to face the unforeseeable mayhem, so she pushes herself to do so.
Anger, Contentment, Embarrassment, Amusement and Heroism. These five could be five out of a tide of five hundred that travel the same street in the course of an hour. Each with their own interpretation of the world around them. Their own view of the world, themselves and the things that matter.
Understanding how your own experience is effected by the things that directly implicate you is a useful tool in better coping with the changing vicissitudes that life hurls at you. Like for instance the common belief that many individuals hold (for countless varying reasons) leading them to believe strangers dislike them. Partly due to something known commonly in the modern world that in lack of a better description has been termed “resting bitch face”. Where the default facial expression of an individual is seemingly displeased. Leading others to express a cold expression back at them, perpetuating a cycle of defensive and cold individuals. To break this cycle, you need only smile at a stranger and in the majority of interactions, the stranger will immediately smile back at you.
So many people are purely receptive to their environment and others, they fail to realize that the lack of engagement in itself is an outward projection. Often shy and aloof individuals can be interpreted as rude, arrogant or dismissive due to their wilful segregation from others.
There is a great deal of power in perception. If you can somehow empathize with an individual and present an understanding of their perception, they will value you above others. All human beings have an innate desire to be understood. It’s a common romantic trope that an ideal partner knows what their spouse truly desires, even if they verbally fervently deny it. Most commonly seen when someone says that they’re “O.K” but their body-language, behavior etc says otherwise. Perception (along with a level of care) determines whether you would leave it at the verbal cue or pursue the perceived dissatisfaction.
So when you feel as though you’ve had a bad day, rather than leave that assessment as it stands, why not wonder why? What made the day a “bad” day? Things not going your way or being simple is only enough to upset or annoy you if you deem it to be. It’s the same sentiment people have when they hold a grudge against the world. It’s estimated that if you live to 80 years old, you may have a brief meeting with around 100, 000 other human beings.
At the time of writing this, there are approximately 7,346,235,000 people on this planet. So it could be estimated that most people will meet less than 0.001361% of the world population. Yet through the news, media and their own experience they believe they have a perfectly rendered opinion of humanity at large.
So when it comes down to it, if you could adapt your perspective, what sort of world would you be capable of seeing? Would you lead a happier life? Or is your current perspective just too convenient?
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