I was in the car one day with my kids around 7:00 am. It had just started raining and was pretty dark to the west but the cloud cover had not reached the eastern horizon so you could still see the sun coming up.
I told the kids to look at the sunrise and how beautiful it was. My son responded, “And just think, in other parts of the world the sun is just now setting.”
Although I understand the phenomenon that at any given time each location on earth is in a different part of its day, this idea struck a chord with me.
Two people looking at the same thing, but from different locations, can have two completely different perspectives. It doesn’t necessarily mean one is right or wrong, they are just different. As William Shakespeare reminds us, “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
One of the new authors I have been introduced to recently is Ryan Holiday, who writes about the ideas of Stoicism. Stoicism is a collection of ideas on how to live a better life through perception, action, and will. Perception is the foundation because it is the lens through which we make decisions to act.
You may have heard the phrase that is generally attributed to long-time football coach Lou Holtz, “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.” But where does that response come from?
It comes from our perceptions.
Performance psychologist Jim Loehr says that the most important thing is not what happens to us, but the story we tell ourselves about what happens to us. That story is our perception and perception is not reality, but it is OUR reality. And our perception is what spurs us to determine our course of action.
Do you have an issue or an upcoming decision that is bothering you?
Has something unfair happened to you that is out of your control?
Did someone do something to you that you are angry about?
Spend some time on your own reflecting on your perception. Maybe the initial story you have told yourself is the correct one. Or maybe you need to rise above the perceptions in your head and look at the situation through your heart.
So the next time you see the sun rising or setting, understand that we are all human and it is okay to have different perceptions. But let’s make sure our perceptions, which guide our actions, are lined up with the principles and values we hold in our heart before we act on them.
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