4 Ways to See the World Through New EyesIf the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: Infinite. ~William Blake
Working from home, while convenient, is often times punctuated by bouts of loneliness. To counteract that, I often spend hours working from a local coffee shop frequented by a group of regulars.
Today, sitting in my normal spot, I struck up a conversation with a man working next to me. We spoke in brief detail about our work and the weather and eventually about where we were from.
As a Colorado transplant from New York, he said, in short, that it seemed as if people here tended to be outwardly mean or judgmental without being provoked.
I was slightly surprised by the observation, simply because I had found that there was no way to make such a general statement about a group based solely on their geographical location.
To me, geography determined what hobbies you partake in or even the clothing style you learn toward, but personality traits were determined by something else entirely.
We Hold the Power
The exchange reminded me of something I had been recognizing just the day before — we create the interactions we have with people, and we have the power to bring out or mask certain qualities a person possesses.
A few years ago, I had an acquaintance within my general group of friends I always had a tough time with. I was incredibly insecure at the time, and I found that every time we had an exchange she would brush me off or say things that made me uncomfortable.
Just last year, that same acquaintance became one of my closest friends.
Now confident in myself and able to take criticism with a grain of salt or a little bit of laughter, she no longer seemed crass and rude. I was looking at her in an entirely new light, and the positive qualities I was able to see in myself, I saw in her as well.
A New Set of Eyes
She was, in essence, the same person. I was just approaching the interactions I had with an entirely new set of eyes.
Outside situations, circumstances and people can remain the same, but our perceptions of them can turn them from negative to positive — and vice versa — in the blink of an eye.
It’s the difference between seeing a rainstorm as calming or just a hindrance to your day. The rain is the same — it’s your idea of it that shapes how the experience turns out.
The interaction I had with the man in the coffee shop served as a reminder to play an active part in my life and recognize when my judgments or beliefs are tainting a person or situation in a way that doesn’t serve me.
1. Recognize When You’re the Common Denominator
Often times we classify or stereotype people or situations in a certain way because we’ve managed to create a pattern in our lives where that type of person or situation continues to show up.
If, for instance, you continue to have relationships where the other person is unfaithful, instead of tainting future relationships with an unhealthy perception of the opposite sex, determine why you are the common denominator to all of these interactions.
What lesson do you need to learn? What set of beliefs do you need to get to the root of?
Take luck or chance out of it. If you see other people with healthy relationships, it’s not because they have some magic force on their side, it’s because they don’t have the same beliefs or perceptions as you do.
2. Put Your Best Foot Forward
If you approach a normally tense, potentially combative situation with a positive mindset and a friendly demeanor, you’ll be shocked at the response you are able to get from the other person.
A few years ago, I went to a local café with my family, and after opening the doors several minutes late, the girl behind the counter was rude and short with every customer in line.
When my dad approached the counter, he said, in a concerned, friendly tone, “It seems like you’ve been having a tough morning.”
Immediately, her face lightened. The simple gesture of recognizing her struggle made her entire demeanor change. She went from being rude to warm in a matter of seconds.
Be the best you you can be, and you’ll inspire others to do the same.
3. Make a Choice
Often times, when it comes to outside circumstances, we take choice out of it. We decide we are going to have a less than stellar day because we are required to do X,Y or Z.
Doing certain tasks may not be an option, but how we approach them and how we view them is always our choice.
Decide how you want your day or experience to feel, and make that your focal point — the rest is essentially not in your control anyways. You’d be surprised at how quickly the Universe will line up certain situations and interactions that are in alignment with how you want to feel once you’ve committed yourself to that.
4. Recognize Judgments When They Start
Our judgments, whether they come from past experiences, current beliefs or anything in between, are often at the root of all of our perceptions.
- Notice when your judgments are popping up and why they are there in the first place.
- Place a clear separation between what is happening in the present and what happened in the past.
- Try to avoid labels — good or bad, etc. Sometimes the labels alone will indicate whether we need to have positive or negative emotions while in a certain situation, and that prevents us from going into anything with a clean slate.
Seeing the world through new eyes involves changing your perspective. These tips can help, but it takes practice and patience. Be kind to yourself and enjoy it.
What perceptions in your life need some shifting?