Is how we see things really the way they are? We certainly assume that this is the case, but nothing could be further from the truth. In this post, we will look at perception and learn how this ability creates our experience of the world and determines how we relate to it.

What is perception?

Perception can be defined as our sensory experience of the world. As a process it involves:

1. Detecting stimuli via the senses (facial expression, noise, movement etc)

2. Interpreting this information (as good, bad, funny etc)

3. Taking action based on our interpretation (run, frown, smile, etc)

Why this matters in terms of our wellbeing?

The critical point is that we do not act based on reality, we act based on our interpretation of reality.

If we recognise that the conclusions we make are personal opinions rather than facts, we are able to see things more accurately. As we have a tendency to perceive things negatively (especially when we are stressed) this can make the world look a lot less hostile.

For example, your boss (friend, partner etc) is in a bad mood:

1. Detection: You detect that your boss is in a bad mood

2. Interpretation: You must have done something wrong

3. Action: Self- preservation, negative thoughts, stress, etc


1. Detection: You detect that your boss is in a bad mood

2. Interpretation: She \ He must have a lot going on

3. Action: Compassion (for self and others), balance, ease, etc

In other words, we must interpret a situation as threatening before we experience a negative reaction. 

Shakespeare took this point to the extreme when he wrote:

“For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

I wouldn’t go as far as Shakespeare on that one but I would argue that the most difficult experiences for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.

The bottom line is that an understanding of the perceptual process and the smallest of changes in how we interpret the world can significantly impact our experience of life. 

Remember, the seemingly insignificant choices that we make in each moment really do matter.

Have a great week.

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