Every situation and experience in life has an infinite number of potential interpretations. Although we are all very different in many unique ways, it has been discovered that the human brain tends to default to a situations negative most potential. Sadly, science now confirms, that it is more often the human condition to rely on the safest, most nonthreatening, and often, negative version of the truth.
The reasons are all very simple and primal…’caveman be afraid and no get eaten by saber-tooth-tiger’. It all made logical sense at the time—being afraid and seeing the worst-case scenario kept one alive longer and available for the ever important joy of procreating! Unfortunately, people still practice and believe in the same dated concepts in their lives today. Don’t get me wrong; I admit that the being alive to procreate (or at least practice procreating) is wildly important in today’s life experience! Although, I do challenge the belief that it is necessary to concede to the default setting in our brain. In fact, I postulate that this amazing and effective fear-based survival technique actually sucks the very joy out of the majority of human experience.
People today, either consciously—‘if I expect the worst than I won’t be surprised or let down’—or unconsciously—‘I don’t know why I keep ending up in the same relationships and situations’—are still playing the same eight-track version of their lives and, frankly, it is time for a Pandora experience! With challenge comes hope, with fear comes acceptance, with failure come rich life experience…why are we so content to live such safe small lives when statistics even prove that they are not making us happy?
So if we are not happy then why have these defaults been perpetuated in each of our lives? It is because we are continually building new networks in our brain to reinforce our daily patterns and beliefs. The truth is that what we experience, however seemingly varied from the individual next to us, is in fact the truth. It is our truth. And because it is our experience, and our truth, it becomes established within us and shapes every experience in our lives from that moment forward. So how we interpret and perceive each life experience (ie what meaning we give to it) actually determines how we will see and experience future events. We will continue to see and experience EXACTLY what it is we have trained our brain to see and experience.
The most common complaint to the realization and responsibility that comes with knowing the control we have over our own lives tends to be:
“but it’s hard”
“it’s hard to think differently, I don’t even realize when I do it”
“it’s hard to change”
“it’s hard to think about it or be present” (when I hear these statements I always hear them in that whiny defeated voice my daughter does when she wants to pretend that she is 4-years-old again and is looking to me to make her life simple…and it can be simple!)…I have one answer to all those statements. It is NOT hard! It’s not hard.
What it is…is HABIT.
And habits take a little work and a lot of focusing and refocusing to reshape. So how do we change our life experiences? We change them one experience at a time. With each single experience you form new neuro pathways, new connections in your brain, and a new default to fall back on. So each time you are present and in the moment; each time you make a conscious choice about how you will interpret a situation or how you want to be, it will become that much easier in the future.
So some things will never change. Your brain will always find exactly what you expect it to in the world around you. Whether you expect to see just another idiot making your life that much harder, or you see that chance meeting that leads to the opportunity of your dreams…It will be true. Your brain will always see through the filter that you place in front of it. The only difference is that it doesn’t have to happen to you…you can choose your life.
Just for fun…
Today—all day, or even just one time—assume the very best about someone regardless of what you otherwise would think or previously believed. Find some creative positive interpretation, imagine some conceivable (if not believable) kind reflection of the jerk that cut you off in traffic, the rep with zero customer service skills, the rude person in line in front of you, that person you wish wasn’t your boss, or that irritating habit your spouse wont stop doing…Just try it. Try to assume the very best in someone rather than expect the familiar or assume the worst.
Try it…It might even be fun.