Ever think about how other people experience the world? Experience life? I think about it all the time. It’s fascinating to me how 7 billion of us could live on the same planet and perceive the world and all its workings differently. No two people have or ever will perceive the world in exactly the same way. Perception doesn’t rely on the sensations one experiences so much as the state of mind that perceives and interprets these sensations.
Of course, sensations from the senses do play a role in the way that we see the world — the more you feel and experience, the larger your perception of the world becomes. However, the very same sensations in one person will be perceived differently in the next. As humans, we may experience almost identical physiological responses to emotions, for example, but the psychological response to emotions differs every time. In fact, you will never again feel exactly the way you feel at this moment. The way you feel right now, all the knowledge and your past that you have crammed into your mind, all of that plays a role in shaping the way you presently feel.
Perception is a tricky thing because it happens almost instantaneously. We have a sensation or a thought, we interpret it and we perceive it, all in the blink of an eye. Yet, this cannot be the case. We don’t perceive things instantaneously. It takes time for the energy to travel from the outside world, through our nerves, into our brains. Then the brain must process what the senses feel.
This is when all our sensations and thoughts become skewed. Our sensations and other thoughts — our thoughts are also the cause for interpretation and perception — are influenced by the state that we are in, the people that we are in that exact moment. The things that we perceive tend to be similar to things that we have perceived before. That’s why after a while, as we get older, we begin to spend more time inside our heads than outside — our surroundings and the accompanying sensations have become white noise, elevator music.
Our sensations, the majority of them anyhow, we have experienced before by the age of 30. These experiences, though maybe not clear to our mind’s eye, are stored somewhere in our memories. Everything that we have experienced and lived is in our minds for as long as our minds function properly. Our brains are basically filing systems for our memories.
We store them into cabinets for later retrieval. Unfortunately, over time we may forget where exactly we stored them, but the more important ones remain vivid. These memories influence our thinking, our reasoning and even our perception of the world around us. I know that this sounds a bit dooming, but this isn’t the end of the road. In fact, understanding that perception is malleable and prone to change can be used to our advantage.
We are capable of controlling and exploring our minds more than most people let on. It isn’t easy and it takes patience and practice, but it is possible to think your way out of the world you perceive now and into another. Almost like moving to a new city or country, but with less baggage. With enough focus and diligence, you can turn your world into just about anything you please. Want to see the world as a beautiful place? You can do that. See a world full of possibility? Full of good, but misguided people?
A world where there is no limit to what you can do, be, or have? It’s all doable. Just trick yourself into believing that that is the world that you live in. Force yourself to see what you want to see. See yourself as strong, intelligent, cunning. See the world as a place that is there to support you, not suppress you. See others as confused and misguided, or sick, not evil. Talk to yourself and tell yourself what you want to hear. With enough hammering, you will begin to believe what you say. Then, the most beautiful thing happens; it turns out that the rules of the world have been rewritten and everything begins to work out. All thanks to changing your perception.
I should add a disclaimer of sorts: perception is only half the battle. You can only perceive so much without reinforcement from the physical world. We exist in a physical world and we must turn our thoughts into actions in order to perceive the world fully. Without perceiving sensations and experiences from the world outside of us, we are only allowing ourselves to live a half-life. Telling yourself that you are hungry for success and then not doing anything about it won’t get you anywhere.
Action is necessary for change. It starts with sensation and ends with sensation from progress — in between and after there is only perception and action. Another thing to keep in mind is that our lives aren’t entirely in our control. There are outside factors — mother nature, people, accidental events — that will affect you with or without your permission.
It’s difficult to perceive a beautiful world when there is nothing but misery surrounding you. All that we can do is perceive the most beautiful world that our surroundings will allow. Always look at the brighter side of things, find a way out if necessary, and always hope for the best. Perception is only half the battle, but it’s the more important half.