How we look at the world is the key to how we interact with the world. The phrase “I think, therefore I am.” is a one line treaty on this concept and it defines the process of the human mind and how it interacts with our perceptions. If you study the works of philosophers, you will come to realize that the world we perceive is ours to shape and mold because the only access we have to it is our own perception filter or mind. The way that we see the world defines the world for us. That perception defines the ways that we interact with everything and everyone around us, and it is simply a matter of how we perceive it that defines how we interact with it. So why do we perceive it as a cold and unfeeling world?
The simple answer is that we have been trained to perceive the world in a set way. My culture and my parents taught me to perceive the world in a certain way that accents the negative and minimizes the positive. This led me to see the world in a negative light all in all and it is a common outlook on the world. Yet there are a person out there that always seem to be happy and in tune with the world around them, even if they are struggling with the same challenges that I am struggling with. I wondered why that was in my early life until I took a course in anthropology. The process of anthropological research is to observe how people do things in their lives and why they do them that way. Yet the vital skill is to be able to analyze how the observer, me in this case, sees the actions and reactions of a culture and understand how that will tint my perception of the actions that the people in the culture are taking. This is a lesson that many can understand on a logical levels, we all know that to look at something objectively we have to understand our own prejudices. The teaching is simple on paper, but the process of understanding it is a lifelong effort that is always changing and in need of reanalysis.
It was in this process on trying to understand my own perception filter that xiaoyi and I stumbled across a method to improve our lives no matter the external stimuli. This is the process of changing our filters from seeing the negative or bad in life to seeing those things that bring us joy and happiness. We have worked hard to create a gratitude outlook on life. This has made it so that when we get a flat tire on a road trip, instead of being angry that our plans are thrown into disarray, we instead look for the good. We have gotten to see cool looking lizards crawling by as we changed tires that we would have missed entirely going 60MPH down the highway. And gotten to have smear fights as we each try to get the others nose with our now dirty hands and keep ours clean at the same time. This came be a lot of silly fun. Many times we have found an opportunity to take in something that enhances our lives and our world from what could easily be seen as negative things in our lives. If we had concentrated on the negative, we would have ignored the positive in those situations. Instead, we can deal with the negative and still experience the positive. This is a fundamental change in our perception, but has been a tool to enhance our lives without changing anything else.
Don’t get me wrong, bad things still happen and need to be dealt with, but seeing the good in that might surround the bad in our lives will make dealing with the bad so much easier and less damaging. The change is a process that takes a great deal of time and effort to reprogram ourselves, but it one that is well worth it in the end. I keep a log next to my bed that I write in every night, three things that I am grateful for that day just to remind myself to look for those things. It is an easy way to keep the change in our minds so that we can have profound change with a simple change of our perceptions.