If we believe something is real, it is; if we think it’s not real, it won’t be.
At least, not in our eyes.
If we don’t want to see something, we won’t. If we look for something, we’ll see it.
Our world can be viewed through multiple lenses of perceptions, each a mini world of its own—a wondrous place full of hidden secrets and revelations, a gold mine of knowledge and teachings.
Some will see it, most won’t.
For a long time, I was closed off to this expanded worldview—my mind wasn’t open yet. Thanks to my world travels and lack of roots, my cup has always been kind of empty. Nevertheless, I used to carry around emotional baggage and the ghosts of my past were lurking around the perimeters of my subconscious, no matter how much I tried to ignore them. They prevented me from looking past my conditioned beliefs to be able to learn to see this world in a different light.
Perception begins when the human brain receives data from the body’s five senses. The mind then processes and applies meaning to the sensory input.
Humans have evolved to make sense of the things that enter the field of our perception.
Every time a stimulus comes to us, our brain responds to it based off of past experiences and knowledge. In so doing, our brain continually redefines normality; it is our trials and errors that determine the way we look at things and how we think. “The brain did not evolve to see the world the way it really is—we can’t,” artist and neuroscientist Beau Lotto says. “We can’t help but to see things according to history—our own history and that of our ancestors because we are defined by ecology. Not by our biology, not by our DNA, but by our history of interactions.”
In knowing this, there are so many possibilities that we won’t see because our brains are not trained to seek them. If we are not aware of this, we will repeat the same old patterns of thinking and behaving, because we don’t know any better. For instance, if you’ve experienced many heartbreaks in the past, you live in a world where everyone is perceived as a potential threat, feeling that you don’t deserve better, you enclose yourself in a dark room; then that room becomes your own sad reality.
Our prior education and cultural influences also play a role in shaping our world views and may keep us in a maze of limited perceptions that restrains our thinking. When we limit ourselves through definitions, our lives are more likely to be lived on autopilot. How can we empty our cups so that we can be part of a world full of possibilities and wonders? Is it possible to access a whole new colorful world, bypassing the barriers of our past experiences and conditioned beliefs?
I believe all things are possible—all it takes to come to this belief is a little imagination and willingness to make different choices in our lives. Here are some ways to step into possibility:
1. Wipe your slate clean.
Acknowledge that this world is not restricted to your own world; there are different levels of thinking, ways of doing things, and hidden layers loaded with new information, that may not be taught at school or around the family table. Our thinking is limited by our past experiences and prior knowledge. Because of this, we blindly accept or refute a set of beliefs, without feeling the need to question them. We associate with a group or culture that further reinforces our set ways of thinking. If we are aware that this world and everything in it is so much more than what it appears to be or what we may initially think, we can open ourselves to receive new ideas and explore different avenues, unlocking doors of unseen possibilities and solutions, with opportunities for growth and learning that can only benefit us.
2. Accept that your way isn’t the only way—listen first then judge for yourself.
There are more than seven billion people in this world, each with different perceptions and realities. Even if we don’t agree with all of them at first glance, if we could peek inside the minds of just a small percentage of those seven billion people, we’d be amazed at the interesting thoughts we will find. However, we likely won’t change our own perspectives if we keep talking. Listen to what others have to say, draw from their experiences, how they view a given situation. Evaluate their ideas against your ideas. Weighing unfamiliar perceptions and stories, we can come up with our own conclusion(s) and gain the ability to think for ourselves.
3. Don’t assume things—you may be wrong.
I’ve seen this over and over in my life, people are seldom what they seem to be. There is so much more going on beneath the surface that we fail to notice after a first encounter. We judge people by our first impression of them or by their social status, but a lot of times people hide behind masks, or the same people we model after may lack wisdom and depth. Wealth doesn’t necessarily correlate with self-realization, compassion, or inner peace and happiness. If we seek further and look underneath the facade of a person, any person, we acquire new perspectives and we can in turn interpret things based off a broader knowledge.
We never know the full extent of someone’s story, what they feel in their hearts; we may learn something new and in turn gain a deeper insight into ourselves. The saying “it’s not what you know but who you know” can work for us ten-fold.
4. Step out of your comfort zone and try new things (don’t worry about other peoples’ opinions, it’s your life!)
When your mind has concocted a preset opinion about something, stop to acknowledge that this might be a wild theory from your mind, laugh it off and tell yourself, “maybe I’ll try something different, go off the beaten path, see what happens.” Your attitude will shift, your vibrations will raise, new adventures will stimulate your creativity and make your life so much more interesting.
5. Stay humble—the more certain you are of your perspectives, the less you’ll be able to receive new ideas and explore new ways of thinking, doing and living.
6. Keep an open mind to learning new things—don’t assume you know everything.
Dare to imagine a new world of infinite possibilities and step into it. Like a child, stay curious and keep your sense of wonder about the world. Look around you with your eyes wide open and an open mind, you will find something that will arouse your curiosity and pique your interest, connecting back with your inner child:
- Try new activities you’ve always wanted to do.
- Visit new places.
- Nothing is boring, everything you see has got an interesting story, dig deeper beneath the surface.
- Mingle with people who can show you new horizons.
- Read new books or magazines, watch cartoons (great to stimulate your imagination) or travel channels (where you can travel and watch amazing nature at work without leaving your couch).
- Visit art museums.
- Look at objects and nature more closely, you’d be amazed to see the intricate details and common patterns they all share.
- Expect the unexpected, or don’t expect at all; things will come to you naturally.
- Let yourself be, kick your shoes off and let your hair down, do less and play more, you’ll discover new things and enjoy life more.
Our minds create fears that limit us from exploring and going further into our life journey; those fears aren’t real.
When we perceive the world as a rabbit hole, where only our imagination can stop us, our mind expands and we are truly alive.
During my journey, it is when I went off the beaten path that I learned the most compelling lessons and lived the most amazing experiences; people might have thought I was crazy, and even though I got burned a few times, I have no regrets. Everyone has hidden talents and unique perspectives that we may not expect. Similarly, every place we go to is filled with wonders and hidden knowledge, even a plain room has its own secrets. An alien coming to that same room might see it the way it really is: atoms blinking in and out of existence, humans shining so brightly, with different aura colors. Perhaps he would be amazed by the same things we consider normal; a seed carrying an apple tree in it, the sun setting making room for the moon and the stars, the connectedness between all living things, a star dying and a human being born, and all the other miracles happening all around us.
What a sad world it would be if there was only one reality, with no escape from the “correct” conventional ways! By being open to new ideas while experiencing new things, we can reverse the same old patterns of our lives and the universe will respond accordingly. For instance, have you noticed that when you don’t want something to happen, you worry about it and dwell on it, and it happens?
The law of attraction is at play. If we open our minds to new possibilities instead, they will come to us because we have emptied our cup.
Perceptions, thoughts and words give life; they become self fulfilling. When we let go of our need to control and our fears of the unknown, we expand our vision; the universe is able to reveal new planes of existence to us. As a result, we enrich our knowledge and make our lives more interesting by leaving new doors of realities open. We can tackle life and upcoming problems with a different mindset, responding more effectively to unexpected circumstances. When we imagine our world as a dream we help to co-create, we can color our own world on a blank canvas.
So why not believe we already live in a world that’s already changed? What we look for is what we see. Everyday I wake up, I like to imagine the world I want to live in, a harmonious and just world, filled with new opportunities to learn and grow from. Yes, there are many things wrong with the world, yes we need to speak up and act against evil, but we can also do more to make an actual change; we can act and feel like we’re already there. Fueling our fears will only create more fear. So next time you feel down and out, lost in a maze, scared and trapped, try to shift perspectives and look outside of yourself, listen to your guts, heart’s desires, and your inner child instead of your buzzing thoughts.
Believe that this world is more than what you think. Stop. Look around and listen, take time out for yourself, see this world as an open playground instead of a bunch of boxes you have to fit in, and know without a doubt that you hold the power to create your own reality.
Author: Carine Genicot
Image: Gareth Newstead/Unsplash
Editors: Caitlin Oriel; Renee Picard