Perception Vs. Reality (consecutive writing day #24)

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Having The Wind At Your Back And The Sun Upon Your Face

Perception is a key to how humans operate. I have gone kayaking for a couple hours the last two days and discovered something a bit peculiar. While paddling I realized that I preferred to be going into the wind. Without a doubt going against the wind is more difficult than having the wind at your back but I still would have rather had the wind blowing into me than with me.

The reason for this is that when the wind is blowing against you, you feel or perceive that you are moving more quickly. Though almost certainly slowing you down, the wind tricks you into thinking you are moving at quicker pace and I found that it made the paddling feel easier. Whereas when there was no breeze or one pushing me I felt as though I was moving slower and that the paddling was more difficult for a given speed.

Objective Reality

To be sure, our perceptions mean nothing to the universe. The universe is indifferent and exists as such. To avoid falling down the memory hole of liberals, leftists, and Big Brother it’s important to understand that there is an objective reality. This reality exists independent of our ability to perceive it, and cannot be changed no matter what power of will you unleash upon it. In other words, 2+2 (must) equal 4. It does not matter if every single person on Earth thinks that equation comes out to five—it still equals four.

So ultimately, our perception matters very little outside our own mind. But within our minds—the rightful realm of feelings and perceptions—our perceived world has a hand in almost everything we do. To us, how we perceive the people around us is more important than how they actually are. How we perceive our living situation, our work, ourselves, and life in general is key to how we live life, and whether we can reach a certain level of happiness or not.

The Problematic Side Of Perception

The problem with perceptions holding such a strong place in our minds arises when we attempt to allow them to escape their proper realm and affect the real world. This is the problem with nearly every aspect of modern politics. It is a total crap shoot of people allowing their perceptions to become their reality and using force to desperately try to make it all of our realities too.

Returning to the kayak example, nearly every positive* political issue or action is tantamount to forcing wind to be blown in the face of every kayaker because it makes kayaking easier. A few people perceive that going against the wind makes kayaking easier and since their perceptions have supplanted the world’s objective reality (in this case being that going against the wind makes you slower and exert more effort at any given speed) in their mind, they think this is true. And if it’s true, they think, then everyone should kayak against the wind because it makes it easier and everyone will be better off. But really we’re all worse off.

Leave Your Perception Where It Belongs

So what does this all mean? Yes, our perceptions are vitally important and critical to how we view the world and act within it. And on top of that, you have ultimate control over your perceptions and so can use and form them to make you see the world in a more positive light. You can also have rituals or habits that give you perceived benefits even if in reality, they don’t. Paddle into the wind if it gets you out on the lake.

But don’t let this go too far. Don’t forcibly try to make your perceptions affect the actions of others. And don’t ignore objective reality when it directly conflicts with your perceived reality. If something is truly and objectively detrimental to your health then any perceived benefit shouldn’t be worth it. Use your perceptions to your advantage, but never let them overtake reality and absolutely never try to force your perceived reality onto someone else.


*positive in the sense of requiring action, not in the sense of normative values of good and bad.

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