I learned from being financial markets trader as well as from being a father of four, that perception creates reality.
As a trader in options, futures and stocks, I learned that everything – even one’s financial situation – is temporary. Everything will pass in the end. Especially at times when I was in a ‘losing mode,’ this idea helped me to relax my mind. And with a more relaxed mind, I was able to really open my eyes and turn that losing mode into a winning mode.
As a father I love my children dearly. Sometimes this deep feeling of love makes me worry about my little loved ones, and the path they are on. Even though these worries are absolutely natural, they are often – and from my perspective, always – totally useless. A father who worries, and who makes decisions based on these worries, is stressed out. A father who sees things from a clearer perspective, because he knows that whatever comes along is temporary, is relaxed. Clearly, a relaxed father will be better at showing and giving love to his children than an anxious father.
Perspective, perception and belief systems
To illustrate the point that everything is always perfect if you just look at it from the right point of view, let us first make a distinction between the two, rather confusing, terms ‘perception’ and ‘perspective.’
Perspective is a ‘point of view;’ it is a way of thinking something about anything. A point of view acts like a filter that filters out what you think is useless and lets the things that makes sense to you seep through. Perception, however, is the way we analyze situations. Perception is what creates a person’s point of view, or perspective. And your perception can be seen as your belief system. What we perceive, helps us form our beliefs of the world.
If you see things from the right perspective, your perception will be a positive one. Things are always perfect if you are able to look at them from the right perspective. I am deliberately using the word ‘right.’ Personally I don’t believe in ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. The right way is the way that works best for you. It is your personal experience.
Here is a simple example: ‘Missing’ is a negative feeling, and yet we miss people all the time. The interesting thing is that we only miss the people we love. Missing people actually means loving them. This different way of looking at this emotion is a simple switch we can flip in our mind. If we change ‘missing’ into ‘loving,’ we rigorously change our perspective. It is a total turnaround in perception. By changing this perspective, we create a more positive perception of life, we create a belief system that works for us.
Life is full of ups and downs. When our life is ‘up’ we experience happy moments. But we cannot appreciate the ‘ups’ if we never know the ‘downs’. The question of life is: what do we do with the downs, with the moments in life we experience as bad, negative or painful? And even more interesting: how do we turn a ‘down’ experience into an ‘up’, or pain into joy?
How High is Your Net?
I would like to share the metaphor of a game of table tennis to explain how life, ‘reality’ or ‘perception’ works. My friend and I are quite good at it, and we often have fast rallies. We get a kick from hitting the ball back and forth over the net. In this metaphor, hitting the ball over the net equates joy, whereas hitting the ball in the net could be viewed as pain. Now, there are a couple of things to learn from table tennis.
The thrill of hitting the ball over the net (joy) comes from knowing what it feels like to hit the ball in the net (pain). Without the experience of hitting the ball in the net we wouldn’t like table tennis so much, because it would be too easy. So we won’t experience any joy in life if we don’t know the experience of pain; these are two sides of the same coin.
Without the experience of pain, we wouldn’t be able to experience joy and it goes without saying that we prefer joy over pain. The question is: How do we turn the perception of pain into the perception of joy? The key to turn this around is to stop thinking and be silent for a moment, to relax, and get on with it. It really doesn’t help us to focus on what is going wrong in our lives. I am not saying we should stop using our mind. Our mind is great for self-reflection, as well as for ordering and defining stuff. But to think too much about something that bugs us, is really no help in getting to a happier head space, or a better game of table tennis. The good news is that we can use our rational mind to relax. We can help ourselves to relax by knowing that we can turn pain into joy by changing perspective, or a belief. A person’s perception of life, or belief system, can be compared to the height of the net. The lower the net, the easier you will hit the ball over it. If, for example, you miss the bus and you are freaking out, your net may be too high. So ask yourself: how high is your net?
It is helpful if we encounter a problem in life to broaden our perspective… even if that means taking on the perspective of a dog. I, for one, am very much inspired by my neighbor’s dog. And speaking of perspective, did you ever realize that ‘dog’ spelled backwards is ‘god’? What can we learn from dogs, or more generally from animals? Animals do not have a cognitive mind, or not as much as we do anyway. They don’t think so much. Their net in the metaphor of table tennis is very low. If they are fed, walked and played with, dogs are happy. It can be interesting to think from a dog’s point of view (or cat’s, or whatever you favorite animal is). From a dog’s point of view, we fuss around too much. Even though I am happy being a human, what I have learned from animals is not to think too much about what might go wrong. Broaden your perspective, relax your belief system, and your take on life will be positive…
What do you think? Do you agree that everything is always perfect, if you can just see it with the right point of view?