I am the absolute worst about keeping track of my sunglasses. I have to buy a new pair at least once a month. This is why I can’t have nice things. But there is one pair I have managed to hold on to throughout my life–my rose colored glasses.
Our perception of the world around us is a cumulative result of moments we have experienced, words we have read, interactions we have had, and knowledge we have obtained. This creates what I like to call our lens—or the way we as individuals look at things in a unique way, based on our past experiences. Your lens will shape the course of your life for better or for worse. But the good news is, you can change your lens any time you choose to. If we look out at the world and see things through a blurry, negative lens, that is what it will be. If we choose to look at everything through a clear, positive lens, our entire existence will shift in that direction. If you believe everyone is good, you will find and attract more good people. If you focus on the great things, the undesirable things become dull background noise. You are ultimately responsible for your own lens, and blaming others for how you think and feel will never get you anywhere. Take responsibility for your own happiness. Choose your own lens.
How? It starts with awareness. With gentle observation of our thoughts. By acknowledgment of the whispers of self doubt, hate, sadness, anger, insecurity, and fear we all have at some point. Through awareness of our current internal state and an intention to approach that with some TLC. Then, instead of fighting those limiting thoughts—allow them and allow yourself. Look at them kindly, and choose to let them go. “Your perception is your reality. Your perception is not the reality.” This concept deeply resonates with me, and is one that I return to often. Our thoughts create our reality. How we think about something leads to how we act, and ultimately how the entirety of our lives play out. So shouldn’t we pay attention to our thoughts? Take some time to align them with what we want our lives to be? Some people see an empty dance floor and think, “What an opportunity, I am going to crush that”. Some people see an empty dance floor and think “I’ll go hide in the bathroom now”. I bet both of those people truly want to have fun, but only one will. Close your eyes and imagine the best possible version of you—However you want to feel, whatever you want to have, wherever you want to be. That is the real you, and your thoughts need to be in alignment with that in order to create that reality for yourself. You get to choose, so be unreasonably optimistic. Be ridiculously resilient. Anything less and you’re limiting yourself.
I have to admit, I have been holding off articulating and sharing these thoughts because I am deeply aware that my perspective is a privilege. I think – What gives me the right to share this? My life has been predominantly fair, good and beautiful, so obviously thats what I think it is. Every day, I feel so unbelievably grateful that I exist in an environment of love, support and comfort. I understand that my ability to wear rose colored glasses and feel happy more often than not is a result of that. That is not always the case and I cannot even fathom some of the things people have dealt with. But there is something I do understand— that no matter where we are in this moment, cultivating our ability to absorb the good, despite our personal challenges, is an incredibly powerful thing. You need to know that no matter what, things always can and will be better, and you have the power to change your reality. The way you perceive your problems can either be an additional problem, or a tool to help you through.
Changing your perception also can help you manage the interactions you have and learn not to internalize them if they don’t serve you. This is crucial because how people treat us can effect how we see ourselves. We have a tendency to take things personally. We don’t do it on purpose. In fact, we usually don’t even realize it’s happening. Because you’ve been living behind your own eyes all your life, it’s easy to feel like things are about you. You have a negative interaction, become upset, and react. But everything that anyone has ever said or done to you has been indicative of their internal state.
So knowing this, I choose to see the best in people and interpret certain interactions a little differently. Last week, I walked by a woman on the street wearing earphones. We briefly made eye contact and in that moment, she made a disgusted face at me. Now, put yourself in my position. What would you think? Would you assume she was being rude and making that face about you? Because I kid you not, my very first thought was, “Wow she must be listening to an interesting podcast”. I guess we’ll never know what the face was about, but the point is that I didn’t internalize it. I didn’t even check to see if there was chocolate on my face. You can not take something that someone else does and allow it to penetrate you.
Another slightly more aggressive interaction was with a man while I was driving on the PCH. I was going kind of slow looking for my turn and pulled my phone up to see how far off it was. He honked next to me, sped up, and cut in front of me. Then at a red light he flipped me off out of his roof and furiously screamed “Get off your phone b****!” out his window. So, there’s a few things going on here. This man clearly was upset and angry, but why that angry? Instead of feeling anger back towards him, I felt sad and concerned. Sad and concerned that this man was so unbelievably reactive to something pretty insignificant. But to him, it obviously was not insignificant. What if this man had lost someone to texting and driving? Or what if his whole life was surrounded by anger? I feel for that man and am sorry for the things that lead him to behave that way. What would I have gained from allowing him to make me angry and yell back? Not a thing. Always remember: Big minds respond, small minds react. It was pretty clear that he was struggling with something, and that something was not really about me.
“If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time, cease to react at all.”-Yogi Bhajan
So take your time. Changing your perception wont necessarily happen overnight. But by slowing down, bringing awareness to your thoughts, and actively choosing the ones you want to keep, your lens will slowly but surely develop a rosey hue.