Accept Life As It Is, Not The Way You Wish It Was; or The Sunglasses of Perception
# 21 on my, 99 Life Tips — A List is: Accept life as it shows you it is, not as you wish it was, or as you want it to be. The same goes for people.
It’s possible some will read that tip, shrug, and think, ”No duh!” While others, myself included, will see that we resemble the remark, and try to act on it. While it is undoubtedly normal to put the best spin on life, some of us invest too much in the spin. If this is you, then let this be a reminder to accept life as it shows you it is. And also, accept people the way they show you they are, not as you want them to be.
Rather than try to enumerate all of the psychological reasons some people have difficulty with this, let’s stipulate that some simply do. You may be among that number. Assuming that’s the case, consider the following questions:
Is your experience of life the result of how you think life is; or do you think about life based on how life has shown itself to be to you?
Perception Is Reality
Few would admit they belong in the first camp. And yet, to some degree, we cannot experience anything differently than how we think prior to the actual experience. You bring your way of thinking about life to every life experience. This is commonly referred to as paradigm, which is nearly synonymous with perspective. The difference being that paradigm refers to the big picture ”model” of reality we mentally construct, while perspective refers to the small picture, individual, subjective point of view from which we observe the model and form beliefs about it. Together, these influence our perception of the world. And our perception is our functional reality. How could it be otherwise?
In this way we experience life like a person who perpetually wears sunglasses. The sunglasses filter everything. The filter modifies the reality of what is being looked at. Remove the sunglasses, and everything looks a little different. Change the filter and change the world.
A patient in need of eyeglasses looks at a chart, or at images though a machine. The images are blurred. An adjustment is made. The images get worse. Another adjustment, and the images get better. They appear sharp, crisp, and in focus. In this scenario, do the actual images change at all? No…they are what they are. The patient would be foolish to see blurred images, wish they were clear, and declare them to be so because he wants them to be.
A few years ago, I had cataract surgery for both eyes. Prior to the surgery, vision in my right eye had become so occluded that if I tilted my head a certain way, objects would disappear. I could make street signs, cars, and people disappear just by closing my left eye and tilting my head. Some people try to live this way. They try to make problems disappear by an inner tilting of their mind. But guess what? Just because you cannot or will not see something doesn’t mean it’s not there.
If your own paradigm, perspective, personality, perception, or personal hang-ups make it difficult to accept life as it shows you it is, then, like a person in need of an optometrist for corrective lenses, you probably need a new prescription. Or, like me you need an ophthalmologist for your eyes and your life. Tilting your head and pretending is not a long term solution.
And friends, not to be too heavy handed with the analogy, that’s us. Life and people are images on a chart. The chart does not change. The way you see the chart changes. Better to see the chart, and life as it shows you it is, not the way you wish it was.
Awareness Of The Susceptibility Helps You Look Twice
I wish there was a magic cure. If there is one, I haven’t found it. Knowing that I’m wearing my own sunglasses of perception, and that I cannot take them off, helps me to realize that I could be wrong. Knowing that I’ve had a past history of mistaking my glossed over version of reality from what was really on the chart, makes me wary. It makes me look twice. I don’t tilt my mind and hope the evidence will change. This healthy skepticism at least gives me the awareness that my own uncorrected filter tends to skew life towards the way I prefer it to be, not necessarily the way it is. This is an imperfection that I will likely always carry with me. So, my tip to accept life as it shows you it is…definitely applies to me. If it applies to you, get those eyes checked.