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English: Descartes idea of perception

English: Descartes idea of perception (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a very interesting conversation today. It was about change and our perception of the normal and every day environment we find ourselves in. I specifically chose the word perception there, and I’ll explain why.

Change is bad

It strikes me that peoples reaction to change is about protecting the so called status quo right? The ‘push back’ against the new way of working or the pain we feel if we suddenly find some other set of our circumstances changing is quite significant.

I recently wrote about this in the change myth, the point being that no one is really very good at handling change at all. Its painful for all of us. And we all follow similar paths in working toward our ‘new’ status quo.

But who decides on what the status quo is anyway? And why are we so enamoured with it in the first place?

Do you even know what is changing? 

What about changes we don’t particularly discern? I mean the ‘little change’ that erodes the way we think and do things on an hourly basis – like age for instance or experience.

I think it’s pretty fair to say I am not as young as I was! A fact of life. But I don’t actually feel any older. Tomorrow is my 43rd Birthday. There I’ve said it! I have to face the fact I’m in my forties, when everything about me is trying to convince me I am still in my twenties! This is not a characteristic unique to me, we all feel it.

When do we stop ‘accepting’ this ‘little change’ as we do on a daily basis, and start to consider ourselves as old? When do we allow ourselves to ‘move’ from the one status quo to another? In this case from young status quo to old status quo.

I would guess we never do? But it is one of the most fundamental changes we can under go. The aging process shapes us, allows us to become all we can be. It allows us to nurture the coming generations with the hard fought experiences we have accumulated throughout our lifetimes. And at the same time it’s the greatest fear most of us will ever face.

But it seems to happen to us without us really noticing, at least on a day to day basis.

Further more plenty of other changes happen to us and go unremarked upon, like the ‘little change’ I’ve talked about above, but there’s also those outright positive changes.

Hang on, some change is good isn’t it? 

What about the changes we under go when our partner takes the step to move in with us? Or the change we under go when ‘upgrading’ from a crappy old car to the new luxury model?

How do we distinguish between these changes we accept or ignore, and those we rail against with all our might?

Is it that we relish positive change and deplore negative change?

I’m not sure that’s right. We can oppose changes that are clearly for the best as much as those that will leave us out of pocket or in some other way inconvenienced or hurt. Finding a new job that provides you with significantly more money at the end of the month will not necessarily help you overcome the wrench of leaving your much valued and highly regarded ‘work family’.

How is it that some changes are acceptable to us and some not, and yet the rules by which we decide are so fluid as well?

Given the status quo is in fact such a ‘changeable’ thing in the first place, where is our reference point? How do we decide upon what to be comfortable about and what to fight?

This ability to roll with the punches can vary day to day, person to person and situation to situation. Surely the only conclusion is that the ‘change’ itself is determined by your perception? And therefore you are literally responsible for your reaction.

The old ‘bait and switch’

Imagine a situation that includes some change or other that you initially perceive as a minor thing? Then perhaps a colleague explains to you what the full implications of the change will be. Suddenly the stakes are much higher and the consequential concerns you have far more pressing.

The situation didn’t change, thats as it was. Your perception of the situation changed, as did your understanding of the situation. The situation itself was as it was. Its only your ‘mind’ that has changed in reality.

So perhaps thats the answer? We need to understand there is no right or wrong, good or bad, up or down. There is only our perception of these things? Only our perspective. A perspective which we can actually change it seems, with enough thought and contemplation.

I have the power! 

Consequently we need to carefully consider our reaction to what essentially becomes our own minds perception and our personal perspective of an event, rather than the event in and of itself?

This ability to control our perceptions and perspectives and therefore reactions is an incredible power it seems to me.

And given that ‘power’, if you will, what would be the limits to what we could then achieve?

Am I on to something here? Or am I just navel gazing as I tend to do when my birthday inevitably rolls around again! Let me know in the comments below.

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