Perception is Reality… right?
I saw a show the other day that talked about the brain… and how we perceive things. It gave an example where it showed a color photo with a white dot in the middle of the picture. The directions were to stare at the white dot. I stared. Then the guy on TV started talking about how our brains filter information and will make adjustments as not to overwhelm our minds. To be perfectly honest, at first, I had no idea why the guy was saying all that. I didn’t notice anything weird about what I’d seen. Then they showed the example again… and the guy referred to the fact that the color photo was swapped with a black and white photo. The crazy thing is… when the photo is first swapped, you still see color! Our brains know what is supposed to be there and we fill in the blanks accordingly. It reminds me of another cool trick that has circled around email in the past… where a bunch of letters are missing from a paragraph, but amazingly when you go to read it, you know exactly what it’s supposed to say. Our brains are amazing… they fill in the blanks.
So… that made me wonder about perception vs. reality. If we see the color of the photograph even though the image has been switched to black and white… then our perception (color) is not reality (black and white)… right? If we can read the paragraph with all the missing letters, then our perception (a complete paragraph) is not reality (a jumble of letters that do not make complete sentences). But what about situations where no one is pointing out the mismatch? What if we glanced at the photo for a moment and saw color when there was none… but no one was there to point it out? Reality, after all, is relative… right? My reality might very well be that I saw a color photograph. And if I didn’t have the email explanation following the paragraph of incomplete sentences… if it did, in fact, read like a regular paragraph to me – wouldn’t my reality be as such… that I had just read a complete paragraph? I guess the question I’m really getting at is this… Is reality objective or subjective? And how does that effect our daily lives?
I was listening to an audio recently by Brent Phillips. He gives an analogy that really struck a chord with me… a coin. Now… there are inherent qualities to a coin. It’s made of metal. It’s round. One side of the coin is Heads. One side of the coin is Tails. What determines whether you see heads or tails? The way that you look at the coin. The inherent quality of the coin never changes. It always has both a heads side and a tails side. Even if you’re looking at the coin and you only see the heads side… you know that there is a tails side if you decide to look at the coin differently. Whether you’re looking at the heads side or the tails side, it does not change the inherent quality of the coin.
I’d like to suggest that every single thing in our life is like that coin… it has a heads side and a tails side depending on how we look at it. Now you might be asking yourself… which is the positive side… the heads or the tails? Well that’s just our human selves trying to make the subjective into an objective reality again! You know that saying, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? One person’s pleasure is another’s pain. It’s all based on perception! Have you ever watched “Swamp People” on Discovery Channel? Those people are passionate about hunting alligator. They get excited about hunting their prey – or if they’re not, they do a darn good job pretending! I can’t even imagine going anywhere near the bayou… let alone getting anywhere near an alligator… and definitely wouldn’t try to shoot the thing and pull it up on my boat! PERCEPTION people! This is the highlight of their day!
The definition of Perception from Wikipedia is the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information in order to fabricate a mental representation through the process of transduction, which sensors in the body transform signals from the environment into encoded neural signals. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs. For example, vision involves light striking the retinas of the eyes, smell is mediated by odor molecules and hearing involves pressure waves. Perception is not the passive receipt of these signals, but can be shaped by learning, memory and expectation.
What’s fascinating to me about all of this is how caught up we are in “reality” and needing to “see” in order to believe. On some level, it seems like the world is just one big illusion where we individually fill in the blanks of what is true. That’s certainly what the latest Law of Attraction and positive psychology research seems to be saying. Our perception of reality… is reality. To the extent that we can influence our perceptions… we can influence our reality. WOW. I guess that’s all for tonight. Stay tuned!
Love and laughter… if you choose to perceive it! ~Rashel