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A New Lease on Life…

May 20, 2010

PERSPECTIVE – it’s all in the way you see things…

Everyone has opinions.  And opinions are based on conversations or past experience.  Your past experience dictates how you feel about something, whether you get it first hand or through the stories of others.  That helps you figure out how to respond when something even remotely similar happens again.

The trap is when we think that the same tactic will work over and over and over and over and over again…  Like whatever is happening now is EXACTLY like the event that we used to create the pattern!

Humans are creatures of habit.  We resist change.

The mind has a beautifully efficient system.  We learn that this berry is poisonous, we stay away.  We experience fear when being chased by a tiger, we learn not to mess with the pretty kitty.  We almost get run over crossing the street against the light, we learn that jaywalking is dangerous… and we jaywalk anyway…  No, wait.  That’s a different story.

So the brain is geared to make ASSUMPTIONS.  That way, the brain can work to interpret new data while the older situations are put on auto-pilot.  Since the environment is always changing and there is SO much to keep up with, it’s the brain’s way to stay sane.

Let’s look at those assumptions.  Are our assumptions ALWAYS right?  (That could be considered a trick question to some of you.)  The answer is NO.

Wait!  What do you mean NO?  I thought my brain was efficient?

Efficient?  Yes!  100% Effective?  No!  The mind works under a simple principle.  Sloppy success is better that perfect failure.  (Of course, it refuses to allow you to operate the same way)

How does perspective show up?

Last night, my husband mentioned a conversation he had with a customer who said, “Oh!  You are from Argentina!  My neighbor is from Argentina!  Argentineans are such wonderful people!”

His comment to me was “And what if her neighbor was a son-of-a-b****?”

It’s funny how we group people, places, and events into categories.  If you stop to think about it, that’s where all stereotypes begin.  Those stereotypes become the wedges that divide in times of struggle creating division, racism, and even genocide.

Wait!  You mean that the lady saying “All Argentineans are NICE” is the basis of genocide?  Yes…

Her opinion was statement of “FACT” for her.  This “FACT” is based on her observation of one or two or three test subjects at the most…

It wasn’t a malicious opinion.  She even thinks she’s being a genuinely sincere and likable person.  But what happens when she uses this opinion to avoid doing her due diligence in a business situation and she gets burned?  Will she then believe that all Argentineans SEEM nice?  But that in “REALITY,” they are ALL out to get you?

Since the opinion was formed quickly and on shaky evidence, what’s to say that it wouldn’t shift with the same ease?

And then what?  Now she has an opinion that causes a reaction in another direction based on 4 test subjects out of a pool of millions…

If someone told you that cheesecake causes cancer in 4 out of 4,000,000 people, would you still eat it?  I would…

Let’s put that into perspective.  You get in cars all day every day and yet, in 2008, out of 304,060,000, 34,017 died.  (For those who jaywalk, 4,378 of those were pedestrians.)

For you numbers people, that means that you are over 100 times more likely to die in a car wreck than of cheesecake cancer.

So, we still get in cars and yet our decision about Argentineans (or Jews or Blacks or Whites or Republicans) still stands…  We are willing to write off a whole population of people as “bad” based on the behavior of one person.

“But, that’s because it happened to ME!!”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  As I said, these short cuts help make our lives easier.  But wouldn’t it be nice if you knew why you said and did certain things under certain circumstances?

If you don’t know WHY you said or did it, then you aren’t really in control of your life…  And that may be the very reason why you haven’t had the level of success you want in different areas of your life.

Take a look at an area in your life where you just can’t seem to make it to your goal, no matter how “hard” you try.  There may be a perspective or an opinion at work that you aren’t aware exists.

As you take a look, you may start to see some patterns.  Do you usually expect the worst from people and they rarely let you down?  Or does life just seem to flow for you and you aren’t sure why?

Remember the old adage; Awareness is the first step to change.  So start small and work to cultivate self awareness.  It may be frustrating at times, but stick with it.  The benefits will far outweigh the cost.

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