photo © 2007 Maciej Lewandowski | more info (via: Wylio)
Until you have been living in a cave, you would have observed that everybody perceives this world differently. The idea of reality, right and wrong, God etc differ from person to person, society to society, religion to religion and country to country. It almost looks like people live in different worlds of their own, and yet we share the same planet with the same laws running it. These differences give rise to very interesting interactions.
The way perspectives evolve in a person over his/her lifetime is also very interesting. Infants and small kids have a solipsistic perspective of the world. They feel like they are the center of existence and other characters they see, exist to serve their purpose. As kids grow up, they come to recognize others as separate conscious beings. They start getting doses of ‘mass perspective’ from their surrounding environment(parents, teachers, society, media). This mass perspective consists of religious views, moral values, financial outlook etc. Certain perspectives have a higher following(like national pride, religious beliefs) while some others are prevalent in concentrated groups(faith in a certain leader, views on money). Usually, kids take the version of the people closest to them as the truth.
Most of the kids, when they grow up into adults, associate their identities with the perspectives they got in their childhood. They are too afraid to test other perspectives. They might even see other perspectives as threats. Then there are those who become rebellious and go all out to try other perspectives. A lot of people lie somewhere between these two extremes. They can’t let go of core perspectives like religious views, but they do make an effort to occasionally test out or see other perspectives on more mundane things.
The problem in continuing with childhood perspectives
If you are like most people, you are hanging on to a lot of perspectives that you imbibed during your childhood. The problem with this is you don’t learn to use the most important human gift of all, your brains. If you just accept and follow what you have always been told, you remain no different from domestic animals. Ask yourself this question, ‘If you were born in a different country, culture and religion, would you still have found your way to your current identity?’ If yes, it means that questioning perspectives and trying new ones is a good thing, if not, then maybe you are in a similar situation already, keeping your self away from the uncomfortable questions of life. This is cowardice and it doesn’t suit you well. You are meant to be a courageous, conscious being. Be one.
Advantages of trying different perspectives
More knowledge. Trying different perspectives broadens your horizon. You see the world from angles you had never seen it before. You gain new insights. Inevitably, you will find that some of the perspectives you held were not really helping you in your life, some might look downright stupid.
Better understanding of others. When you try the perspective of others, regardless of whether it works for you or not, you get to intimately understand the way others look at things. You get a deeper understanding of how different people perceive this world. This helps in avoiding confrontations and ego clashes, and in creating better bonds with others, in spite of the differences.
Forming strong core beliefs. As you keep on trying various perspectives, your begin to notice that certain perspectives make you feel more empowered and you automatically tend towards them. For example, as a kid, I used to believe what I read in spiritual literature – that we are all sinners and must atone for our sins. As I formed some other beliefs that were not congruent with this idea, I decided to test out believing otherwise. For some time, I decided to believe that I am a good human being, perfect with all my imperfections. Mistakes don’t make me a sinner, they are learning experiences. It immediately felt good. It took me some time and effort to get over guilt, but I knew I was never going back. One can still argue that I am wrong but I have tested out both sides for myself and am absolutely sure about which one work for me.
On the other hand, you might find that certain perspectives are very disempowering, draining and make you feel negative. Some might be downright repulsive.
Over time, you form some core beliefs. Every one forms some core beliefs in their lives, but your beliefs are now based upon a lot of trial and error, experimentation and hard, reliable data. You don’t have to draw your sword and defend your perspectives every time someone attacks it, you are not insecure about your perspectives. When you are confident, you can just smile and pass by the fearful ones without getting pulled into fights.
Freedom. Testing and deciding the best perspectives for yourself brings freedom. You consciously select what you find best for yourself. You don’t have to look at others for validation. YOU create your own life.
Understanding of the fickleness of reality. When you keep trying different perspectives, you realize and remember that there is no absolute reality. Reality, for every person is what he/she makes of the world, and this is never the same for two people. You know this and respect this, and people love you for it. This also keeps you from getting comfortable with one perspective, it keeps you looking for more meaningful perspectives. You loose the tendency of dissing any new ideas you come across, and this is a valuable thing.
Which perspectives are the best?
Fortunately or unfortunately(depending on your perspective :)) no one can answer that for you, but you yourself.
Perspectives will never work for you if you just copy them from others. It is OK to derive inspiration from others, test their perspectives. But you have to do the testing. Check it out for yourself. See whether it works for you. If it doesn’t, leave it. Maybe it’s not good for you, maybe you will see more meaning in it later in life, but don’t continue with it because someone else seems to be benefiting from it.
Most people have a tendency to avoid getting out of their comfort zone. They cling to the perspectives they get in their heritage or the ones that work for others, and are too lazy or stupid to try anything new.
Put in some effort, try different perspectives and find out what works best for you. Treat it like a treasure hunt!
Here are a few interesting and contrasting perspectives. It’s interesting to try both sides for a few days and see how they make you feel generally :
Fate determines life Vs You write your own destiny.
Death ends it all Vs We are a consciousness that just leaves this body when death occurs, we don’t die.
We are all sinners from past lives and from this one Vs All of us start with a clean slate and learn from our mistakes.
There is scarcity of resources in this world Vs There is enough for everyone to follow their passion and get what they want.
You have to fight against others to get to the top Vs You have to work with others to ensure happiness for you and others.
Socialism vs Capitalism.
Is their some order in the Universe Vs Entropy rules the Universe.
God exists and will judge our actions Vs We are the supreme consciousness and the best judge of our own actions.
Find your own contrasting perspectives to test. The results might surprise you and cause you to rethink your core beliefs.