Are you aware?

January 22, 2022

I am inspired today to ask the question above by a quote that I’ve been saving for some time – “Let us not go back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.” (James Thurber)

It seems to me that way too many people are spending their time being angry about things that have already happened and which are in the past or they are fearful of the future without just cause. Perhaps they have based where they are going upon something that they saw on the Internet or something that they heard from someone else. If, in either case, they did not take the time to become aware of the source and veracity of that “information”, then they may be headed off in fear or anger in the wrong direction.

What does awareness mean? I think it at least means that one takes the time to think about and question things that they hear, see, or read before accepting them and acting upon them. We all need to ask questions like, “What is the source of this information?” or “What proof is there that this information is correct and accurate?” The phrase, “I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true” is both laughable and yet prevalent in today’s world of misinformation, conspiracy theories and outright lies.

Unfortunately, the source that most use for their news and information about what is happening in the world is also the biggest source of bad information – the Internet.  It’s a shame is that so much of that bad information is purposely planted there by people to cause the resulting confusion or anger or both. The real shame is that it works all too often.

The second major source of bad or suspect information is politically biased coverage on so-called news shows. The influence of the political views of both the right and left are evident in the choice of words that both sides use in their newscasts to re[port on events. Awareness of that bias towards either side will help one correctly assess the news content from the political views of the presenters. The weather portion of the news shows is about the only part that has not been highly politicized, except for comments sometimes thrown in on global warming.

So, approach each new day with an open but questioning mind and awareness that you need to evaluate everything that you hear, see, or read before allowing it to influence your reaction or direction. Instead of starting a conversation with the phrase “everyone knows”; start the conversation with, “here’s what I believe”, because you have taken the time to evaluate things and to form your own opinion. Just being in a state of mind to question and evaluate first will make you a more aware person and probably a more interesting one, too.

Go around in awareness.

At least stop to consider…

June 11, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this bit of advice – “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”  (Harper Lee)

I’m glad that Harper Lee used the word “consider”; rather than “see”, because it is both literally and figuratively impossible for us to see things from another person’s point of view. We all “see” and interpret the things that we see through the filters of preconditioning, prejudices and prior knowledge. Unless we stop and make the conscious effort to consider what we are seeing differently, we run on autopilot and let those filters direct our thinking about what we are seeing/hearing/experiencing.

Sometimes the filters that interpret our experiences set us on high alert. We are fearful or wary without really understanding why. Sometimes our preconditioning leads judge thingsus to be judgmental without any supporting evidence that would lead to that conclusion. Perhaps we are dismissive of a suggestion or a person, not because we have any real reason to be, but just because…

This rush to judgement, or fear, or whatever the reaction, can be particularly true when meeting people. Our eye allow us to “see” what kind of person they are, without even arroganttalking to them. We check their clothes their appearance and their demeanor before we are even within hearing distance. If we see signs that alarm us, we immediately rush to judgement and become fearful, defensive or worse. In many cases that means that an opportunity to meet someone that is really quite interesting and worth knowing is lost before it gets a chance.

So, it is worthwhile to stop and think about Harper Lee’s advice as we go through the day. In the Buddhist world there are terms for this – it is called mindfulness or awareness. Unfortunately, most of us go through the day blissfully unaware of the filters that are controlling our encounters with others. We may become aware that weworried1 are a bit frightened by or not at ease with someone, but we don’t stop to consider why that reaction has overcome us.

Perhaps in our minds an encounter with someone immediately conjures up words or thoughts or reactions that flood our minds. But why? Stop and consider that first and maybe you’ll take the next step, which is realizing that those initial reactions have no basis in what is happening now and are just preconceptions and prejudices at work in your mind.

You will never be able to understand the perspective that the other person has on life or no judgementthe reasons behind why they choose to dress or act like they do; however, you can understand and control how you react to them and how they appear to you. You can decide not to let the filters of prejudices and preconception color your view of them. You can decide not to rush to a judgement before you’ve even had time to interact with them.

At least stop to consider as your day goes on and see if your perspective on things doesn’t change for the better. You might be surprised how many interesting people you cansmiling-sun meet that way. You might also begin to appreciate how much richer your view of the world becomes once you remove the filters through which you have been viewing it. Have a wonderfully rich ad non-judgmental day.