There is a great song by Paul Simon, in which he says, “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.” He is commenting, of course, on how our experiences are colored by the frames we choose. In other words, our feelings are shaped by our mindset.
The lenses through which we see the world also have a big impact on our lives. Where we are emotionally, drives our interpretation of “things.” In addition, our own biases and stereotypes influence how we see the world.
This is how two people can look at the same piece of art and have completely different experiences. It also explains how successful entrepreneurs see challenges as opportunities. It reveals how positive people see “lessons,” where more negative people see “failures” or “losses”.
As I think about this topic, I can’t help but be reminded of the fabulous writer, Anais Nin. She captured the contradictions of her own bohemian lifestyle when she said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” There is so much wisdom in this simple sentence!
Looking back on my own life, I have to say that I agree with her on this. There have been plenty of times in my life when my responses were based on my own insecurities and fears – not the issue at hand. With a different mental frame, I would have seen them as wonderful opportunities to grow. Instead, I interpreted constructive comments as criticisms and setbacks as failures. Do you feel the same way?
If the same situations occurred today, I know that I would respond differently. After all, I am a different person. This is not to say that I have regrets. Like everyone, I did the best I could, with the information and mindset that I had. It’s just that age has taught me to see the world in shades of color, not boring black and white. My glasses aren’t rose colored – they are every color of the rainbow.
Have there been times in your life when you have judged someone unfairly? Do you find that you are better able to see subtly and deal with contradiction, now that you are a little older? Why or why not? What do you think of Anais Nin’s quote?