The Power of Perception

I guess this is what they call "Adulting"...Sunday morning and I'm up at 430am to get my son ready for his High School trip drop off at 5a, run thru the checklist of items to make sure he has everything; wallet, cash, credit card, phone, chargers, headphones, socks, underwear, etc...Give the proverbial/required in car speech of "Now, don't do anything stupid, be responsible, respectful, have fun, take some pictures that at least make it look like you're having fun..." Not sure this if this conversation is more for him or me so that in the event anything "stupid" actually happens that I can at least say to Kate "I specifically told him before he got on that bus not to blah, blah, blah...." The only real advice that I always remember is that "There's always going to be a story, don't let it be about you..." Still applies today; the office holiday party, bar mitzvah, school trip, whatever....There's at least one douche bag making a "memory" at each one...You can pretty much count on it. Perception...

Last week I talked about how there was so much going on, the constant activity. Yesterday, I laid on my couch for 3hrs...Yup, 3 whole hours. It felt great and I needed it. But it wasn't being on the couch that was the best part (although I really appreciated the down time) it was hearing the laughter, voices and activities of my boys upstairs that made my day. Just hearing them play, being happy, enjoying themselves in our home made me happy. It didn't matter how big our house is, that for some reason the internet was slower than usual, what type of couch I was laying on, what size of TV we have, clothes we're wearing...None of it matters. Maybe we're doing a few things right after all...Perception...

It's not what you have, what you say or how you look...It's what you DO.

Alex Lickerman M.D. writes in his book The Undefeated Mind that "Wrappers affect our expectations about what lies inside them."

"We all carry around with us conclusions we've drawn about other people through which we filter everything they say and do. Certainly over time a person's actual personality and character alter these conclusions, but even then our conclusions often remain highly biased. Further, we seem to err mostly on the side of overestimation, thinking people far worse—are far better—than they actually are. It's the rare person, in my experience, who looks more skeptically at his beliefs about someone than at any evidence he observes that contradicts them.

But that, I would argue, is exactly what we should do. It takes more cognitive work—which is undoubtedly part of the reason so many of us are so reluctant to do it (as Daniel Kahneman famously asserted, we're all cognitively lazy)—but people are not only more nuanced than we typically acknowledge, but also change more often than we realize. If we really want to understand our fellow human beings accurately, we must allow them to surprise us, to contradict what we think we know about them. Like good scientists, we should cling to our theories about people only loosely and always be willing to revise them in light of new data. The package in which people come to us may be attractive or repulsive, but if we exert a little effort—like opening a book and browsing its contents before deciding whether to buy it—we can see past our visual biases to the truth. That way, we'll be far less likely to exclude from our lives not only a quality person—but also a quality book"

Sure, you can go to church, temple, join that organization, donate money to charity...Try to pray it away, pay it away, say it away and maybe some of it works...

Sure, you can fuck up and come back. Everyone loves redemption however, it's even better if you don't have to redeem yourself in the first place...

Sure, there are criminals in fancy suits and men of integrity with tattoo sleeves....

It's all perception...

It may come as a severe shock if you haven't given much thought to this subject before, but our precious, cast-in-stone, objective beliefs are often totally in contrast to any reality. Or, more accurately, they are our perception of reality, rather than reality itself. ~Robert White

Here are 6 tips to help untangle perception from reality (

1. First, think about an issue or problem that you’d like to resolve.  Really get to the heart of what’s bothering you or what you’d like to shift or change.

2. Next, consider how you might be perpetuating the problem or issue.  Brainstorm as many of these types of contributing factors as you can, however unbelievable or extreme they might seem.  Pay particular attention to thoughts and feelings that might contribute.  Don’t worry if it feels like you’re overly blaming yourself.

3. When you have exhausted all of your ideas, ask a few others who know you well for their thoughts too.

4. Then, evaluate both their and your responses in #2 & 3.  Underline any that appear more than once.  Finally, circle those that you yourself had also put down.

5. Assume that any of the reasons above might be true, beginning with those you circled.  Find as many ways to support or justify this as you can, even if it doesn't initially seem true.  If after that none of the circled items seem to fit, then repeat this process with what you underlined, or repeating #1-5 by redefining the problem.

6. Once you feel like you've got it, redefine your problem or issue and brainstorm solutions accordingly.

Let me know your thoughts.


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