Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Change the Way You Think 5

A friend of mine is a photographer and she loves taking photographs that I felt were useless and at best self-indulging. For example she would see a stack of firewood, or some pebbles on the ground and she would photograph them. When I looked at that firewood or those pebbles I didn't see anything worth a second glance. Just firewood ready to be burned; and the pebbles I wouldn't have noticed at all. But then she pointed out a few things to me and then I learned to see this peculiar formation of this handful of pebbles, and I felt it was interesting and that there was some kind of beauty in this formation. And there was a certain order in the stack of firewood, a certain "rythm" if you will, which I felt was quite beautiful too.
My point is that I changed my feelings only because I looked at these pebbles and that firewood differently; somebody had told me how to see them to become aware of their beauty. I had changed the meaning of these objects from being pointless to something very meaningful.
Let's take a different example. The boss says to his (female) secretary that she is a highly intelligent and very beautiful woman. What kind of meaning does the secretary give to these words?  She could think oh what I nice thing to say, or is this in lieu of a salary increase?  or yeah, yeah, I heard that one before, or this is sexual harrassment. Whatever she thinks depends on her very own interpretation of the words. She does not really know what her boss meant. She is presented with data - words - and now she needs to interpret them.
You see, words are totally meaningless and so are events and experiences. Nothing has any meaning until you give meaning to it. What kind of meaning you give it depends on your mindset. And your mindset depends on your upbringing: what your parents told you, what your teachers taught you, which could have been in conflict with what your parents had told you; and what everyone else told or taught you who had any form of influence over you. Also past experiences and events and how they affected you form part of your mindset. And this hotchpotch of different influences, often conflicting, sometimes positive and sometimes negative, over time became your mindset. In other words you learned your mindset.
The thing about mindset is that it will forever influence your thinking, your biases,  your prejudices, your likes and dislikes, your actions and reactions, your values, your beliefs, your priorities, in short your life.
Is this good or bad? Well, this depends on the individual. Some people are perfectly happy how their life is unfolding; perhaps they don't know any better, or perhaps there isn't any better. Other people are unhappy with their circumstances and they would give anything to change something or everything. But they cannot change anything until they have changed their mindset.
We have acquired our mindset. There may have been some little bit in it that we inherited from our parents, but the greatest portion by far comes from copying and learning.
But if our mindset is not given to us by nature - we are not born with it - then surely we can re-learn and create one that is superior to the one we had before.
Next time more about it.

Happiness Discovered by Udo Stadtsbuchler

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