Paying attention to our perception

“As great scientists have said and as all children know, it is above all by the imagination that we achieve perception, and compassion, and hope.”

– Ursula K. LeGuin

I just finished reading an amazingly powerful article about the power of perception.

How we perceive our world is hugely importantly and impacts the quality of our life in every way.  Paying attention to my perception is not an easy thing to do.  It requires paying attention to how I react to even the smallest thing, it requires being in tune with my body and realizing when something is a knee-jerk reaction versus a choice.  Viktor Frankl describes this:  “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”  Such important words!  But how many of us take the time in that “space” to choose?  How many of us are even aware that we have a choice?

Yesterday I witnessed a classic example of this.  My family and I were at a bird sanctuary on an island outside of Auckland called Tiritiri Matangi:

There is a very tame Takahe there who was wandering around looking for food.  The takahe is about as big as a small dog, and this one was very brave and very cheeky.  Most of the people there found this bird, named Old Greg, funny and charming.  But one woman there was terrified of him and backed away anytime he came near.  Her friend calmed her down and led her away from where Old Greg was wandering around.  My guess (obviously uneducated) is that at one point in her life, this young woman was terribly frightened, maybe even attacked by an animal, perhaps a small dog.  But whatever the circumstances that led to this, her response to this very harmless bird was terror.  Her perception was that he was dangerous and could harm her.  I’m sure if  I took her pulse, her heart would have been racing.  Her perception was having a very real impact on her experience and her body.

In order to choose my response to a situation, I have to first pay attention and know that I am having a response based on my perception of a situation.  Paying attention is the first step to change.

If you have time, read the article and watch this fascinating TED talk.  They are both wonderfully insightful!


Please let me know what you think of the information –  (you can leave a comment by clicking on the speech bubble at the top of this post)  I’d love any insights that you have on your own perception.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

5 thoughts on “Paying attention to our perception

  1. I find when I am not paying attention and reacting instead of responding things usually don’t go to well. When I am able to catch myself in a reaction and examine it, space definitely opens up, to either respond or sometimes just let it go. Thanks for your words they are a great reminder for me!


  2. With the world continuing to be overpopulated, things are only going to get worse as resources become scarcer and scarcer. Compassion and hope will be out the window as more people realize that prayer to a god isn’t working to feed, clothe, and house their families.


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