This I Believe

Raj - St. Paul, Minnesota
Entered on April 13, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
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That which enables me to see blinds me

As a teenager many times I responded to events in an emotional and unhealthy manner. While I can’t identify a single event, today I would say, I respond most often to events in a thoughtful manner. These responses come from my macro and micro cultural experiences which overtime have became internalized beliefs. These beliefs shape how I see and interpret the world.

I also recognize that while my lenses are extremely helpful and are often referred to as mental models or patterns or filters they can become my prison which prevents me from seeing another perspective which may be the truth. The paradox is, while my lenses enable me to see they also blind me at the same time.

Today one of the lenses I use to live my life as I respond to events is, “Is my response to the event a healthy one?” So for example, if someone cuts me off in traffic I choose to believe that the person is probably running late for an interview and was distracted. Or I am thankful s/he didn’t hit me. When I stop at red traffic lights I see this as an opportunity to count the thousands of things I am thankful for.

Another lens I use is how much energy I am going to expend on any issue depends upon how long the impact is going to be felt. You see when I get up every morning I think of myself as having a limited energy source and there are many things trying to deplete my energy source. My job is to use my energy wisely throughout the day by focusing on what really matters.

Using the same example of being cut off in traffic, I ask myself, “Will it matter 5 minutes from now?” Since it will not matter 5 minutes from now I choose not to spend any energy fretting about the issue. Now on the other hand if it is something of long term consequences such as health I will spend energy on it. To determine the amount of energy, I use the escalating time based questions below. In reality very few things get to the 4th question.

1. Will it matter 5 minutes from now?

2. Will it matter 5 hours from now?

3. Will it matter 5 days from now?

4. Will it matter 5 months from now?

5. Will it matter 5 years from now?

In closing, I believe for my own mental health it is far better to live life conscious of the lenses through which I see and interpret the world. I must also be aware that my present lenses could also be my prison which blinds me from another perspective. The challenge is endless between sight and blindness. At the same time I live my life with the belief that I have the freedom to choose the lenses through which I see the world and how I respond to events.