In the Eye of the Beholder

Have you heard the expression, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?” Many of us have heard that one, as well as, “You can’t tell a book by its cover.” Both expressions have something to do with the fact that what we see with our eyes is subjective or filtered in some way, by our own opinions or beliefs or ideals. For example, some people don’t like the color green, while others don’t see “green” the same way you do, and they may not even be colorblind.

When you are in a discussion with someone about a particular topic and it becomes clear that you are both seeing the same situation differently, what comes to mind or how does that make you feel? I know some people who are so set in their ways and feel so strongly about their own beliefs and opinions that it is nearly impossible for them to even consider someone else’s point of view. I have great compassion for them, because I think they are missing out on learning and growing and actually becoming happier people. Wouldn’t it be awful to be so boxed in to a set of ideas that you felt alone because you couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see others’ points of view?

A word I use often is “perception,” because it is important to our understanding of the world, and more specifically, of our own world. When you observe something, is your observation the truth? When you hear a story, do your interpret that story the same way someone else does? When you hear music or look at a painting, do you hear or see what your neighbor hears or sees? It isn’t a matter of who or what is right. The way you perceive something is your truth, and the way the others perceive something is their truth.

Lord Thomas Dewar said, “Minds are like parachutes; they only function when open.”  If it could be possible that there might even be the slightest difference in perception and ones truth, would it make sense to compare, to share the experience with another while keeping an open mind? By doing so, you just might broaden your own view, and at the same time, you might just broaden the horizon and view of the other person, too. How cool is that?

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