Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one. – Albert Einstein (attributed)
Originally this article was going to be titled, “life is what you make it”. However, I decided to phrase this as a question because I am unsure if life really is what you make it.
I’d like to think it is…
I’ve witnessed the power of positive thinking first hand. I have seen how labels separate and draw people together. I have seen how long held beliefs destroy people and build them up. And I have seen how ideas of right and wrong influence people’s decisions.
If everyone had the same concept of reality would society be better off or worse off?
Sometimes I feel like we live in a society that challenges every belief that I believe is good and true because they don’t believe it to be true, and lets slide any idea of mine that is wrong and immoral for the sake of being accepting.
Is there a gold standard of reality or is it all just perception?
For instance, you probably think Hawaii is a great place. A place you would love to vacation in and probably even live in if you could afford it. You may or may not have been there yet but I am sure you have a certain perception of it.
I haven’t been there but I perceive it to be a nice place from what I hear. That was until the other day…
My friend has lived there for 4 years and all the initial excitement of living there has certainly worn off. He is ready to move away from paradise. Why? Because its not his perceived idea of paradise anymore, possibly never was. In fact, he now refers to living there as a tropical depression. Ouch!
What gives? His perceptions changed. Did Hawaii change? Certainly not, at least not that much in 4 short years. So which is it? What really is the reality of the situation?
In my humble opinion I think his first perception and his current perception are not totally based on reality. They are only his compiled input and experience of living there.
Even if you just look at facts and figures to make a very “reality based” decision, it is still a perception. Like statistics it can be twisted and turned to support any view.
To keep us based in reality as much as possible we must continually be aware of the lens we look through to see the world…
And we must be aware of other people’s lenses too. This will help us make better decisions all around.
To do this we must slow down and try to approach the situation at hand from different angles. One angle only shows a very one dimensional view. Three angles starts to give you a three dimensional view. And only by looking all around an object can we get a full 3D view.
To answer my own question I believe I must say that it is both yes and no.
Yes, because no matter what we do we still view reality through our own lens, and therefore we have a perception of reality that is not totally true.
No, because reality really is reality. It is not perception. Perception is part of reality but it is not all of it. We can’t pretend to have a total grasp on reality, but if we try hard we can be pretty darn sure of quite a few things.
The object at hand will become clearer and clearer as we look around it more. We can have an intimate knowledge of it, but never a full understanding of it.
What’s the point in all this?
Simply to get us thinking and to be a reminder that the lenses we are wearing will determine the reality that we see.
Everything you can imagine is real. – Pablo Picasso