A lot of Un-Seeing is about developing a different way of seeing your world. In this video of a TEDx talk at the University of Illinois, Daniel Simons who is the head of the Visual Cognition Laboratory at the University of Illinois explains that what we think we see is not necessarily so. He touches on how what we see affects the way we think.
GETTING NEW EYES
One way to help yourself grow away from your habitual, same-old habits of thought is to expose yourself to the ridiculous, the radical, the unfamiliar and the surprising. Any of these can help shake your set mind loose…you are more open to exploring when you are facing something for the first time.
Just for fun, check out this video, Let’s Look At the World a Little Differently by Jing Ling (2012) It shows events captured by security cameras around the world that are not horrifying or scary-making. Could something like that change your idea of the world as it is? Think about it….
TRAVELING PROMOTES NEW EYES
Many books on developing your own creativity tell you to make a point of trying a new thing: take a different route to work, have a conversation with a new neighbor, see a movie you would never watch normally…anything to break up the patterns.
This way of mind-bending has always been the classic argument for the value of traveling to new and different places. When you’re a stranger in a strange land and you are looking at things you have never seen before, it’s likely that the strangeness will trigger in you other ways of thinking.
For the last thirty years, journalist Rick Steves (a marvelous storyteller) spent four months every year traveling all over the world. He lays out how it enriched his life and how it helped him become braver, “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much,” he says in this TedX Rainer talk.
DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN
I’m not sure WHO started all of these 30-day challenges, but they are certainly getting ubiquitous. You can 30-day challenge your way to any new habit or skillful means, it seems – everything from a better diet, a new exercise regimen, a new way of thinking, or anything else that is subject to change.
Repetition promotes new habits and new patterns of thinking, it is said. How would trying something new every day change up your ways of thinking?
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
It’s a lot harder to work on approaching the familiar as if you are looking at it for the first time, seeing the strange in the ordinary and the everyday, or seeing connections that are currently obscured by the assumptions you’ve already made or the ways you’ve already been taught to see things.
You need to get some Outsider eyes. Ask yourself: How would anything in your life look to someone who has never seen it before?
I grew up in Hawaii. For the first seven years of my life, I was living in a different country that was owned by America as a “territory.” It seems we do things a bit differently than the folks who grew up in Middle America. It has been an eye-opener for me.
Nowadays we have all kinds of people flying in to check out the beauty of this place. They come with their own attitudes and their own set-points about what is “right” or “wrong” or “true” or “false.” Often they do not see what we see and talking to them helps me see our local “realities” from a different point of view.
Talking to our visitors and newcomers (and even to the relatives and friends who have gone away to live in other places) helps us who have never left understand other perspectives and other people’s world-views, it seems to me.
LIVING IN DIFFERENT WORLDS (IN THE SAME PLACE)
Some of the many visitors to the Hawaiian islands come to live here with us. Some of them actually acclimate to our way of doing things. They “go native,” reveling in the many layers of our island society’s culture and the richness of our many-faceted worlds.
Other newcomers hang together in their own enclaves and pretty much try to live the life they always lived when they were living somewhere else. They spend a lot of time making comparisons and finding a lot of what is here unsatisfactory.
Still others end up disillusioned because this much-touted substitute for “Paradise” is not what they thought it should be.
Hawaii is a place made up of realities and dreams, just like every place else. What you believe is what you will see. It makes this place particularly instructive to those who are trying to find new eyes, I think. I know the ones who grew up here are also always getting surprises and lessons about living as well.
Here’s another poem….
TO A STRANGER LOOKING FOR PARADISE
Island welcomes you when you come.
The gate is always open.
It is open when you come;
When you leave, it is open.
But, if…if you really want to be a part
Of this Paradise you keep hearing about,
Talking about, thinking about,
Here’s your first lesson:
Whatever you are given, accept gratefully.
Whatever you can give, give graciously.
Be who you are, gracefully.
People smile if you smile; people laugh if you laugh.
If you cry, they will hug you.
If you hurt, they will comfort you.
Boast and they turn away, embarrassed for you.
Show angry and they walk away,
Or return anger for anger.
If you are real, Island is real.
If you play games, Island plays harder games.
If you wear masks, Island becomes illusion –
Sometimes a pretty dream, and sometimes a nightmare.
Island is not how much money you have,
Or how many fine things.
Island is appreciating who you are, how other people are, and where you are.
You will be tested: There will always be lessons,
There will always be tests.
Doesn’t matter how long you stay.
People have been burned by strangers over and over.
They wait, they watch, they see if you can handle squirming, dodging obstacles…
If you will keep going, as they do.
They know: Island is a cruel, cruel lover.
Her hands, full of fruits and flowers, hide clubs and spears.
She asks for total surrender; she only wants all you’ve got….
If you take and take and take, Island shuts down to you.
Doesn’t matter if you are rich or smart.
Doesn’t matter if you are a “person of consequence.”
Island will not be with you and in you and of you.
You can live here fifty years,
And STILL you will not be Island.
So, if you want Paradise, if THAT is your dream,
Know there is a price you will have to pay.
Know that the price is all of who you are and what you are.
Also know that when you have paid it
And keep on paying it, paying it, paying it,
Island opens to you and the dream becomes real….
Here is the key…
You can use it if you like:
There is only one gate to Paradise.
It is inside of you.
by Netta Kanoho
[A friend of mine once told me it is a Molokai thing, the phrase, ‘as how…. It encompasses the concept “that-is-the-way-it-is,” but it’s also more than that. It is a deep understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of human nature and all its faults, for the world as it is and all its vagaries, and for the Mystery – the mana and the Spirit — that is at the heart of living.]
Picture credit: Vanity Eyes by Ikon (Grazla Horwitz) via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
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