Introduction Imagine this situation. We are travelling by car and we are on the right hand side. Two vehicles plying on the opposite side collide with each other and the car in which two people had travelled was badly damaged. They are somewhat unconscious and one of them shouts for help. Even before the police arrive, at least sixty vehicles go past the scene of the accident on the other side. None of the vehicles stop. Only one person does, and makes the two injured persons to at least drink some water. The police take ten minutes to arrive. Fortunately, both are alive and are taken to the nearest private hospital. A member of the press seems to have arrived and the police have taken control of the situation, trying to regulate the huge traffic build-up on the side where the accident occurred.
As you can see, those who arrived to help perceived the situation as very serious and did not bother about the questions the police are likely to ask. In India, this is a common perception. We are afraid that at a later date we might be asked to come to some court to testify about something that we saw and since we need to spend time and money, we might as well just inform the police and move on. Unfortunately, over 95% share this perception.
What then is perception? In very simple words, perception just refers to our view of the world. This view is cemented through our thought patterns which are often a bundle of our own values, beliefs, and attitudes. When these variables are positive, we generally try to see only the positive in any situation. For example, it is just quite natural for each one of us to chip in and do the best under any set of circumstances like the accident referred to in the introduction. We just need to be positive and most things will fall into place.
In this article, we will discuss a) How understanding perception correctly enhances our lives b) How we can make small changes to negative perceptions c) How being open-minded helps in any situation, and d) How to channel the perception of all in the right direction.
How understanding Perception correctly enhances our lives When our perception of reality is the same as the reality itself, there is no problem. For example, very young people do not like to listen to advice from elders. This becomes crucial when the child reaches the age of fifteen and becomes quite mature to understand the reality around him or her. Such a child is also conscious about his or her passion.
The problem starts when parents try to impose their will on their children. A child who is not at all interested in engineering becomes an engineer. And then goes on to pursue his career as a scriptwriter or even a film director. The past two decades have already seen an explosion of electronic media. Today, social media influence is maximum and children network with a huge number of people, online. This has become even better in the past couple of years when going online was the only way to communicate at a mass level.
When the parents still try to influence their children on careers, there is a big resistance. Hence, we should first understand what reality is and change our perception of that reality. When we do this, we will be able to influence the perception of others, who look at the changed reality. For example, dancing by the bridegroom and the bride in most weddings, is a new reality. When those who are sixty-plus age today see such things, they normally have some caustic comments to offer. Very often, it is the job of those in the 30-45 age group, that is, the middle-aged group, who have now seen the new world and also correctly understand and even influence it, to make the older people understand that times have changed and that clinging on to the beliefs or habits of the past does not help any more. This is where the role of perception is acutely felt.
How we can make small changes to negative perceptions What is the use of getting excited about things beyond our control? For example, we might have some political orientation based on some philosophy. Since we might have accepted what their leaders did at some point in time, we are often influenced by their overall personalities and confuse ourselves with our perceptions of their behavior. We are torn between our likes for that person or leader, and their behavior, which is often so much against society. The safest option is to simply forget the entire set of behaviors, particularly when one can do nothing about it.
Instead, we can do something for the poor. We are often hold the worst perceptions about their cleanliness, behavior, attitudes, and so on. We get a shock of our life when we discover that there are many honest and clean people, even among such people. When we show some kindness towards them, they exhibit all positive behaviors towards us and go on to even take care of us when we are sick. It is once again a change of perceptions. One need not be old to do this. Intelligent parents who are very rich often visit old age homes, orphanages, etc with their children. Such children who are educated in the best English medium schools develop empathy for the people who are helpless in one or the other, and then there are many good instances when such people grow up to be highly responsible citizens who care for the poor and so on. Hence, we just need to take small baby steps.
How being open-minded helps in any situationThis is related to the aforesaid step. When we change our perception by doing good to others, we also open up our minds. We develop open-mindedness as a habit. This is the opposite of having closed minds, particularly when it means being or acting so selfish and wanting everything for ourselves. This "me at someone's cost" is the root cause of so many problems that we see all around. The best alternative is to be different and also become highly open-minded to see different points of view at all times.
How to channel the Perception of all in the right direction This true incident happened some six months ago. I am totally against the use of plastics. When I wanted to buy two kilograms of roasted groundnuts, I made the shopkeeper reach for the newspaper and asked him to make a cone, and pack the groundnuts in it. The entire lot of customers in the shop were shocked but respected me for my age. One of the youngsters commented that at least one person has come forward to avoid plastics. He wanted some other variety of groundnuts and also requested the shopkeeper to give him the stuff in a cone-shaped packing, with newspaper. It was just a small drop in the ocean. However, I was happy that I could make some small changes. This is exactly what we need to do.
ConclusionLife is too precious to be lost by human beings with the wrong perceptions of the world. Once we understand the reality behind any of our perceptions and become more accommodating and flexible, we can see and experience a lot of change. When we take small baby steps in life, our perceptions are bound to change for the better.