Radical Perspective Shifting – Day 85 of 365 Days to a Better You

Can’t see, can’t hear

Someone once said that between the two closest people, there exists a vast gulf of understanding. We have this tendency to go through life thinking that the world is as we see it and experience it everyday. We may vaguely get that others see it and experience it differently, but generally we find it hard to understand how they don’t see it the way we do.

This is another of the great unknowns. We think we have one world happening around us, but the reality is we have seven billion separate worlds going on simultaneously in near proximity. Ideas, ways of doing things, and even foundational concepts in our reality can be completely new, foreign, or just plain wrong to someone else.

I like to call this the seven billion keyholes. We’re all looking into this room we call the world from our own perspectives. From my keyhole, I may clearly see a mountain and a river. Someone else may not see that, but a beach and the ocean. We’re both looking at the same room, but we’re limited by our perspective. Neither can see what the other sees, but we’re each convinced that what we see is the TRUTH.

This is the basis for interpersonal chaos and world war. However, if we simply walked over to the other person’s keyhole and peered through, we would see what they see.

This point was driven home to me back in my undergrad days at The University of Kansas. I was an Education major and enrolled in a class for teaching special needs kids.

The professor required us to do a two-day experiment. We had to walk around campus for two days either blindfolded or with ear plugs to simulate being blind or deaf. This was my third year at KU and I’d have told you I knew that campus like the back of my hand. Two days walking around with a blindfold on (guided by a classmate) taught me I didn’t know it nearly as well as I thought.

Anais Nin famously wrote, “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” I quickly realized that the KU campus without sight was very different from the one I experienced every day. I saw how reliant I was on my sight for so many things that I took for granted. I got to take the blindfold off after two days, but some people have to live their whole lives with that challenge.

The gulf between each of us is large, but it can be linked well enough to create a world of cooperation and collaboration rather than conflict.

I’m not suggesting you walk around for two days with a blindfold, though it would be an “eye-opening” experience.  I am suggesting you step away from your keyhole once in a while to look through other peoples’ keyholes. You’ll probably learn something, move a stop closer to them, and create the potential for a better world and a better you.

All my best for a GREAT Tuesday!




Walk A Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes – Day 69 of 365 Days to a Better You

Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes…

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”

As I recall, I first became familiar with this quote about 30 years ago. I have since sought to make it foundational in how I see the world.

Much of the negativity, violence, hatred, and injustice in the world comes from an over-emphasis on our own sorrow and suffering and a too-casual dismissal of the sorrow and suffering of others. The recognition of the human condition as a universally wondrous, but often painful affair, must breed a greater sense of compassion for others in thinking person.

By striving to see this truth present in others, all other living things, we begin to disarm our hostility. Frankly, we begin to stop seeing them as an enemy and restoring their sense of humanity in our minds. What an enlightened achievement that is!

The question that invariably comes up is, “That’s great, but what if my enemy doesn’t attain that enlightenment and continues to try to harm me?” We see this mindset flaunted in our foreign policy and on social media. It’s almost a hurt them and silence them before they have a chance to hurt you and silence you mentality.

That is not and never will be the world or the mindset I choose. Obviously, we should be clear-eyed and protect ourselves from harm or danger. However, we should not see harm and danger around every corner or believe it comes from someone because who they are or what they look like. And maybe, just maybe, by being the first to see your adversary’s humanity, you might be doing what they so badly wanted to do but lacked the courage.

Someone has to bust down the doors the separate. Why not you and me? Empathy and compassion are not weakness. They are profound courage.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I hope, if you find it useful, you will share it with others.

Have an AWESOME day!