Perception seems like such a straight forward thing. We assume that what and how we perceive something, whether it is the weather, our boss, our relationships, a news story, or the size of our hips, is reality. Not so fast. We might physically see or experience the same thing as someone standing next to us, but we perceive it differently. That’s because perception involves taking what we see or feel and running it through our mental filters that are based upon our own past life experiences.
Too often we rely on our limited experiences to make judgments and decisions every day. We perceive situations, food, music, individuals and even whole countries by an often outdated, second or third hand experience. If you’ve attended a high school class reunion or happened to run into someone who knew you as a child, you know what I’m talking about. No matter what you have become, done or accomplished former classmates assume you to be as you were ten, twenty or thirty years ago. Our experiences have changed us but those who knew us before often hold onto their past view of who we were. Is it any wonder we have discord and misunderstandings in the world?
Let go of preconceived notions and expand your day-to-day experiences, pull yourself out of the rut of ‘same old, same old’ and learn to fully appreciate the variety that exists in the world. Where do you start? Small, of course and work up!
1. Retrain your palate. Are you a regular who eats the same thing for lunch or breakfast? Is Wednesday always meatloaf and Friday pizza? Has it been years since you set foot in a new restaurant? Mix it up a bit and try that new Mexican place, give Brussel sprouts a chance, or grill salmon the next time instead of burgers. The worst is you won’t like it and you get to try something else the next time!
2. Culture won’t kill you Do you remember a museum as some place an adult made you spend hours of time when you really wanted to be outside? Many museums today now have interactive exhibits; often feature local artists, and shows that change every few weeks. Check out what museums within a sixty mile radius have to offer and note the exhibits or special activities they have planned for the summer.
3. Ear for music I always loved stations that played music from my college years but shied away from current pop and country. Then my daughter got an iPod and as I downloaded tunes for her, guess what? I actually liked many of the songs! Now I find myself tuning into different stations in the car and learning lyrics to new songs. My taste of music has expanded and so can yours.
4. In your own backyard Often we plan elaborate trips and vacations to far away places but spend little time exploring what is within a few hundred miles of our home. I’m not saying give up your get-a-ways, but also take time, save money and energy by exploring the sites within your area. A quick, on-line search can reveal a year’s worth of day and weekend trips to satisfy your quest for adventure.
5. Set in your ways Do you always sit the same place at the dinner table, church, in the car, or the family room? We can become so comfortable in ‘our seat’ that we become irritated when someone dares to sit there! Let it go and try moving yourself around so you have a different view of the same old places. You might like it.
No excuses, branch out, stick your big toe in the water and dare to try something new. Be brave enough to open yourself up to new experiences, new points of view, and perhaps new connections.
“True life is lived when tiny changes occur.” Leo Tolstoy