There is a great quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer that I absolutely love. The quote is, “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
While this quote definitely fits with Dyer’s writing style and ability to explain higher-level understanding of our internal selves, it also has a practicality that may be missed if we don’t look carefully.
Years ago I remember hearing someone say to “close your eyes and picture the color red.” They said, “think of stop signs, tomatoes, blood, etc.”
After a few minutes of thinking of the color red we were told to open our eyes. Something pretty strange happened. Suddenly all of the red objects in the room jumped out at me.
I could see the red glow from the exit sign. In fact, it seemed like I couldn’t help but see those red objects. I assumed I could look around and spot red items in the room but never imagined the experience would be so intense and extreme.
But it shows us how much of what we see and think about the world reflects our internal beliefs and thoughts. In essence, we color everything with our individual perspective.
While this usually is a good thing, it can still hurt us if we aren’t aware of this internal bias. Being raised with the belief that we are here to help others will sculpt one’s future as much as being raised with the belief that everyone is out to get us.
But most people never really investigate their own internal biases. They instead look externally to validate what they believe and just as it was easy to spot red after thinking about the color for several minutes, it is easy to validate any belief after years of reinforcing that belief.
I never realized the extent of that in my own life until I read Dr. Dyer’s book, Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life. This is now my favorite book but it started out as a struggle to agree with what he was saying. I constantly found myself thinking, “I really want to agree with him but I don’t. I cannot even comprehend why he would say something so untrue.”
After a few chapters I decided to change how I read the book. Instead of reading it and judging it against my beliefs, I would read it as if it was completely true. I would assume that it is true and then try to look around and prove why it was true.
Something incredible started to happen. I started to see the world in a new light. Because many of the themes from that book challenged western culture, I started to see flaws in my thinking.
This, along with exploring systems thinking, led to a completely different way of living. Instead of constantly judging and being willing to judge quickly without a full picture of the situation, it gave me the ability to see the bigger picture and understand many different perspectives within that bigger picture.
It is easy to empathetic if you can truly understand one’s perspective. Usually you can also see flaws in their thinking but it gives you the ability to see people in a much less judgmental way. Instead of judging them, you look and try to understand how they can feel that way.
For me this proved the idea that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. It showed me how much of the outside world is really just our biased perspective rather than reality and if we really want the things around us to change, first we need to change the way we look at things.