I used to be one of the people who chanted the mantra “perception is reality” because I used it as a way of trying to understand others and their responses to situations, ideas, etc. Recently, though, I have been rethinking that position and have come to realize that the idea of perception being reality is only true if there is no objective truth, and we simply do not live in that type of world. Think about it, if you perceive that the birds are hanging upside down on a branch, it could be that reality has shifted, or simply that you are standing on your head. Your perception albeit something you have to process, in no way changes actual reality.
Far too often, though, we treat peoples’ perceptions and feelings as being reality, and, therefore, truth…at least “truth to them”. But “truth to them” isn’t necessarily truth, so how does it help to support the rationalization of an irrational truth when what we really should be supporting is dealing with the feelings, thoughts and emotions that are making the perception seem real. Feelings are real as are emotions, but that does not necessarily mean that they are an accurate interpretation of reality. Yet we accord them that level of importance and turn them into the arbiter of what we consider truth and reality to be, when they are not designed to be that at all.
For example, you may feel miserable after doing something you know was a bad idea, like overeating, etc. You may feel like you have failed and that the day is ruined. You may even take it to the level of feeling like life is bad because you screwed up, but the reality is life itself is pretty good. By objective measures, you live in one of the most prosperous times in the most prosperous country the world has ever known. You have access to health care and food of such high quality and such abundance that we regularly end up throwing it away. You have the knowledge of the world at your very fingertips and the ability to talk to almost anyone around the world at any time, for truly nominal amounts of money. The reality is that life is pretty good even if it doesn’t feel like it.
In Og Mandino’s book The Greatest Miracle in The World, he authored a text called the “God Memorandum”. In it, he addresses this concept of reality and our need to separate our feelings and reground ourselves in the reality of our lives. It is an excellent read that I highly recommend and, so, I would like to leave you with this link to the text version and this link to a YouTube version. During this holiday season, during the ups and the downs, remember your perception is NOT reality. Life is better than that.