“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ― Albert Einstein
Lately, I find myself thinking more about what actually changes in our lives, and why that change happens. At the beginning of my fourth decade, I’ve seen minor and major changes so far throughout my lifetime.
There have been many major life changes, including finishing college; owning a home and selling it; having and raising a child; and walking with family and friends as their lives have changed, too. There have been countless minor changes in my life. Thinking about this world we all share, there’ve been a lot of big changes since 1975, including the toppling of political regimes and the beginnings of new ones; the deaths of world leaders and the emergence of others; new technologies and the evolutions or end of olds ones; and endless small changes.
As I reflect on these, I see others’ stories interwoven with my own. The mentors who guided me as a young man; the women I’ve loved and relationships I’ve grown through; so many times shared with friends, and the growth of my born and adopted family; as well as the people who I’ve barely known or never knew who have touched my life in ways seen and unseen.
Today, I understand that with strengthening and weakening through experience, its been my heart that’s changed the most. I was born and raised as a good kid, albeit one who made mistakes and was far from perfect, but with an open heart, strong imagination and good humor. As an adult, all of that has been messed with, poked and prodded and challenged and hated; however, I am who I am, still.
I understand know that life is oftentimes an appearance. Because appearances depend on my viewpoint, my experience, my lenses and my interpretation, appearances are always subjective. That means all of these things I thought I experienced are simply a matter of appearance: Seeing the horror of a friend dying from disease can be the honor of walking a friend towards their next journey; or the joy of a family member winning the lottery may be the challenge of watching shallowness replace depth of journeying; or the suffering when a love left me is the welcoming of solitude and sanctity; or the sadness of a pet passing away from old age can become the cherishing of time shared and love gained.
How to See Your Viewpoint
Here are five simple steps to seeing your own perspective more clearly:
- Say “I see things according to my own viewpoint, biases, attitudes, knowledge and experience.
- Write down your perspectives on a specific situation. For instance, how do you feel about your house? What do you think about dogs? Who are your favorite friends?
- Once you’ve written those perspectives, ask yourself why you think those things. Are you justifying your thoughts? Criticizing your thinking? Do you feel righteous? Ignorant?
- Identify whether you are willing to rethink your own attitudes and behaviors. If so, you’ve identified your viewpoint about something. If not, you have also identified your viewpoint about something.
- Consider whether you think some people cannot understand your viewpoint? Do you think you should change others’ minds to understand your viewpoint?
Today, I understand that my point of view is always skewed by my perceptions; I am always subjective. Whenever I pass judgment, I’m weighing evidence against my perspective. That doesn’t mean that nothing has value and nobody is ever right; its totally the opposite. Everything has value and there is right and wrong in the world. However, it does mean that appealing to the hearts and minds of people is as important as changing the society, structures, policies and processes that things happen through.
I’m going to keep Einstein’s quote in mind for myself: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
What do YOU think about that?
- 6 Ways to Overcome Your Biases for Good from Psychology Today
- Recognizing & Understanding Stereotypes and Bias classroom lesson plan from Clover Park Technical College
- 4 ways you might be displaying hidden bias in everyday life from CNN