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How do we see the world?

People have been studying this for thousands of years now.

Not only do our eyes lie to us, but our brains have been conditioned to process the eyes’ electrical signals in a certain way. The brain has been trained to accept the lies or, at best, fill in the missing pieces with information that conforms to our beliefs so that what results is a “picture” that makes us feel both comfortable and safe.

The truth is inherently rather elusive. We can argue that we see the truth, but what we really see is our version of the truth, what we call reality. As such, what we really see is our own version of reality.

Now’s the time for some clichés.

“Life is what you make it.”

Perhaps because how we make it conforms to our beliefs, what we think our reality should be. It’s not what we do in life, it’s what we first think to do.

“Thoughts are things.”

Everything begins with thoughts. If we want to go shopping, we first think of it. If we want to say something, we first think of it. If we want to do something, we first think of it. Everything begins in the mind.

“Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so (Shakespeare, Hamlet).”

Our expectations (perceptions) from the world are what we first put into them, and that all starts in mind. If we think something is good, then we embrace that good. If we think it’s bad, then that’s what we see and get.

Here’s a TEDx talk on perception and how the mind fills in the missing pieces.

Video by Cognitive neuroscientist Al Seckel.

And another video on decisions and how much they’re controlled (even predictable) by how our minds have been shaped, not only through our own lives since infancy, but by eons of conditioning as an animal.*

A TED talk by behavioral economist Dan Ariely.

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* The famous example is a hominid walking in Afica. It hears something move in the brush and it has a choice: Think it’s just the wind, or think that it’s a lion waiting to attack. That “fight or flight” characteristic–that conditioning–is still within us to this day.

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