The Power of Perception

I used to think it would be great to go and live in an isolated area somewhere in Asia, meditating and doing yoga all day. By living that lifestyle, I thought I’d be safe and free from all the challenges I found myself facing in my daily life. But today I realize the challenges presented to me by all those day-to-day situations are actually the catalysts for my growth.

We all view reality through the filter of the emotional state we are in. If you wake up in a bad mood, worried, feeling stressed or overwhelmed, your energy will be low and you will experience the events of your day through the lens of that negative emotional state. When we are stuck ruminating over problems in our heads, we are self-absorbed and not aware of all the opportunities and blessings that always surround us.

Try this: Imagine the same day, but waking up instead in a state of gratitude for every little thing in your life. Imagine then, how would your experience of the day – and all its challenges – be different?

“This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding that realm of inner stillness that is inseparable from being. It also creates a false mind-made self that casts a shadow of fear and suffering.”

 ~Eckhart Tolle

When you approach the day with appreciation, gratitude and purpose, everything changes. Every day you have a fresh choice. You can choose a different experience simply by altering your perception. Victor Frankl said it best:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Jack Canfield, creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, is famous for his E + R = O formula. Event plus Response equals Outcome. Again, the message he delivers everywhere is this: it is your Response to any particular Event in your life that determines the Outcome – and your state of mind.

If we could just step back and observe things objectively, and suspend our emotions and attachment to the outcome, then we’d be able to perceive things more clearly. We might even notice things we may have missed before because we were stuck in our emotional perception, or private lens of our experience.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

~The Talmud

The secret is to choose to be grateful and realize that every problem and challenge you face is an opportunity for growth. It’s all a matter of shifting your perception. When our focus is off, we quickly become misaligned with our higher self. Instead, try to find the meaning in the struggle and pain. It is so much easier when we finally ACCEPT everything that has happened, everything that is happening and everything that is going to happen. When we arrive at acceptance, instead of fighting it, blaming others, and/or numbing ourselves with sugar, sodium, alcohol, drugs or medications, we can grow from our experiences. It was the beloved Dr. Seuss who said: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

The happiest people in the world are those who find a way to bounce back quickly and get back on the horse, so to speak, the next day. They have this resilience because they don’t take day-to-day challenges personally, and will do whatever it takes to remain positive in the face of difficulties to achieve their goals.

So focus on all you have achieved, and be content with where you are in your life. The actual beauty of our everyday experience is the little everyday things we generally take for granted, and oftentimes miss because we’re so caught up in our thoughts. I watched my beloved father decline from a brain injury and slowly lose his ability to function and care for himself. From time to time he’d have a lucid moment and would know what was happening to him, and he was so scared and sad at how his life was ending. From that sad experience I realized that being able to dress and feed myself, make decisions and have the ability to work – is simply miraculous. I will never take them for granted again. We need to appreciate the gifts we have right now – and enjoy our time, not squander it. I guarantee you, there is someone else who would give anything to be in your shoes. One of my clients recently said, “Happiness is free, why don’t you get some?”

It’s pretty hard to change the habits of a life time – until we learn to feel good about ourselves. We all need encouragement. It’s important to understand and respect yourself at every step, but most of all — be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the same loving compassion and kindness you have for your child, or your closest friend. Elevate yourself and give yourself all the encouragement you need to be successful. Say to yourself, “I know I may not be where I want to be right now, but I am grateful for where I am. The mistakes I made in the past were a necessary part of my journey. I am grateful for what I had to go through in order to bring me to who I am today.”

It is never too late, no matter where you are in your life, to change your perception. Every minute of every day is an opportunity to make better, healthier choices.

© 2018 Ara Wiseman. All rights reserved.

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