How well do you interpret your senses?

There is no fixed physical reality, no single perception of the world, just numerous ways of interpreting the world as Deepak Chopra says.

If you are looking for a job, you might perceive the job environment as hostile as it demands a lot of skills from interviewees and is challenging for a fresher who has passed out of college. If you perceive the job environment as hostile then you might prepare much more for your interviews and be thorough with all the current affairs. If you perceive the job environment as very forthcoming towards newly graduated students from college, then you might go easy on the preparation for various companies’ interviews. Whichever situation you take in life, perception affects our decisions and behaviour. Perception is the way we interpret sensory information in the environment around us.

There are few elements that determine our perception. One of them being our past experiences; for instance, when Muslim voters participate in the election and think about voting for Narendra Modi, they will immediate associate him on the basis of his role in the 2002 Godhra riots. Another element which influences our perception is the needs of our moment. For instance, students and faculty of Indian management institutions crave for international exposure, going by their perspective, the management courses are gearing up for global presence by providing them summer internships and exchange programmes in places abroad.

Our moods also have an effect on perception. If we are sulky and dull on a weekend, we perceive enjoyment as spending time at home relaxing and reading a book. If we are in high spirits, then we perceive enjoyment as going out and party with friends and shop.

Our thinking abilities and skills also influence our perception. An abstract painting by Pablo Picasso can be perceived in numerous ways by different people’s cognitive capacities. The way we decipher the beauty of his paintings will vary from person to person depending on his ability to appreciate abstract thinking in Picasso as an artist.

Perception plays a pivotal role in every facet of our life. Many a time our perception is dependent on personal tastes and preferences. To elucidate, some women like to go with minimal when jewellery is concerned. Some like to wear real ornaments and not just junk jewellery to flaunt them. Some prefer to wear tribal, handmade ornaments than machine-cut jewellery.

Some perceive novels as tiresome to read whereas some find novels intriguing. It all depends on our interests. Perception is correlated with what excites and stimulates us. Many people view yoga as stretching but some perceive the exercise as creating balance in the body through developing both flexibility and strength. Yoga is also about letting go of the ego as perceived by the hard core practitioners.

When we talk about personal likes coming in the way of perception then we must remember that cognitive bias always comes under perception. For instance, many of us might relate one quality of a person to his entire character and his other traits as well. If a person is good looking then we think he might be a nice person at heart and smart too. This form of perception laced with generalizing a person’s character on the basis of a single trait is halo effect and many of us tend to fall prey to it unintentionally.

The poet, William Blake, remarked that if the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. Perception is reality according to many. What we perceive the world to be is our subjective reality. The way we perceive the world we react to it. If we see the world as a safe haven, we are confident in venturing out of our comfort zones but if we see the world as a dangerous place where one has to be cautious lest taken for a ride, then we think several times before coming out of our comfort zone.

 Some psychological researches indicate that people might have an unconscious bias against creativity simply because it represents uncertainty unless they are able to visualize that uncertainty in a positive light.

Afterall the phenomenon known as placebo effect is all about how patients recover from ailments ranging from pain to depression and Parkinson’s disease. So, perception can play a role in our body mechanisms as well and not just in the way we react to circumstances in our life.

Perception no doubt helps in recovering from illnesses at times but it also inhibits the way we make judgments about other people many a time. This leads to misunderstanding. We judge people according our own frame of reference rather than seeing them as they are. We create an image of people in our minds and often get disappointed when they don’t live upto it. This is nothing but misinterpretation while perceiving others.

We visit a friend who is having a bad day due to her personal circumstances we know nothing about, and therefore is in a sulky mood. During our visit we engage in a conversation with that friend who disagrees with something we have said in a nasty manner, whereby we may perceive she or he is angry at us perhaps about our point of view. Actually in reality our friend is angry about something that is bothering her.

When a parent scolds her child for its own good, it takes it in the wrong way and hates his mother. It is because of the child’s perception that the parent is against the child’s wishes. Experiences play a role in perception right from our childhood in the way we view the world. If we have been bullied in childhood, we perceive the world to be cruel; on the contrary if we are surrounded by wonderful friends we would view the world as loving and caring.

Perception is not always based on our belief systems, experiences play a major role. If one would have been injured by crackers during Diwali festival, then the next time one will perceive bursting of crackers as highly dangerous and abstain from them. But what we must understand is that experiences are different every time and perception is clouded when we proceed forward with the experience alone rather on the cause of the experience. If we know what caused the experience, then the next time our perception would aim at addressing the root cause rather generalizing the experience in every situation.

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