Reality vs. Human Perception
Most people, don’t often ask this kinds of questions. The answer is seemingly obvious, but human perception is not close as clear and complete as we think. Reality is what we see with the eyes, hear with our ears and generally the information we get trough our senses. But surprisingly that is not the whole story. What we take for granted are the lenses of perception. Yes, that is right. In every given moment the information that we get from the surrounding world is somehow distorted by our own perception.
Lenses of Perception
When thinking about a photo camera, it’s easy to understand that different lenses give different final resulting photos. This means, that just like photo cameras, people have a slightly different perception of reality even on the sensory level. As the sensed information is further processed, we get even more noise because of preconceived notions.
Reality Undergoes Multiple Distortions
If we go a step further, beyond the five senses, we can see more complex systems forming and processing sensory information. For example, our sense of balance, hot-cold, motion or even perceiving of other peoples emotions have developed. This is a combined use of the more primitive sensory organs but also supported by the processing power of our brains. Information is processed even further, in order to create conclusions and opinions.
Limitations Create Priorities
And priorities create selective perceptions. That’s right. At every given moment, your brain is telling your senses what to open up to, and what information to discard. One great example of this is “tunnel vision” that happens during a “fight or flight” response in the body. During dangerous or disturbing situations, you may require greater focus. The body limits the use of some organs and systems and uses only resources that are relevant to survival.
The Vocabulary of Previous Experiences
As you start to understand, at the time an opinion has formed, it has already passed trough many lenses. Sensory, but also logic and calculations have been applied to the information. Reality in this way is colored by previous experience and conditioning. The amount of information that we process on a daily level is overwhelming for the brain. Most of the time, it’s easier to call upon solutions from the past, and just categorize the new information. Words, sounds, images, feelings, they are all used as ready to use symbols to describe reality.
“The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon.” ~ Zen Proverb
The Subjective Experience
It’s very easy to get in the pattern of thinking that these conclusions that we make about reality are very accurate. It is not unusual to have strong feelings about an opinion, and hold it close to heart. But lets take a look at scientific methods of research. If the human perception was so clear and precise, scientists and engineers wouldn’t need any of that fancy measurement equipment. Also, it’s common knowledge that scientists take measures many times, and conduct many experiments. This is an effort to analyze those many subjective points of view, and get closer to an objective conclusion about reality.
No Final Conclusions
Looking for the “ultimate” truth is very tricky. Why? – because, after you do lot’s of math and science, and may seem to have come to some kind of conclusion, things change, rules change, reality changes. It happens all the time. This is not a reason to fall into an existential crisis, rather a motivation to live smarter. Conclusions can be a trap for “truth seekers”, so aiming for an authentic and dynamic experience is much wiser.
Is Personality Real?
All this knowledge would be of no use if not applied and reacted upon. Some of the higher layers of processing the sensory information that we harvest from the real world are the most misleading. Physiological patterns can misshape information very violently, and maybe even worst it can get us to react very passionately in the illusionary direction.
see also: Birth Order and Personality
What is Identity
For the purpose of this inquiry, lets just agree that identity is the set of all beliefs we have for ourselves. This is a system that we build based on previous thoughts and experiences and defines us and our boundaries. Another reason why identity is a very interesting topic is that it gives fuel to emotions, and then that energy than drives behavior. So, everything we do, always comes from a sense of an “I” entity.
Give Your Personality a Break
Personality being a very rough story of who we are, and what we do or want, is not always very beneficial to your body and overall health. Many times, your knowledge, skills and personality are necessary, to function in the world. To do your job properly or communicate clearly with people. But it’s not always good pasterns that we develop. Some negative thinking patterns may actually work against you. What we forget is that we can choose not to use it for a while. Just like an application or a game on your smart phone, sometimes it’s good to turn it off an recharge.
Optimizing Your Personality
Rarely someone speaks of this. It’s in our culture to believe that, identity and personality are a given fact and not something you develop. If you think in a term of a computer or a smart phone, you want it clean and optimized. That way you don’t have wasted space and it performs correctly and quickly without wasting resources. We rarely think about doing this for humans. And yet we have installed so many unnecessary or outdated applications( habits and thought patterns ) in our brains.