Equanimity Fall Edition - 2010 : Page 42
fitness & nutrition Perceptions PERCEPTIONS, insight into a balanced viewpoint W By Kenneth Meade hile it is true you can’t control what others think about you, perceptions are important and can be a key to happiness and success. A recent study in The Journal of Comparative Social Science and done across 97 nations, suggests perception of life control is the most important predictor of satisfaction. In other words, the perceptions we have of ourselves, the percept ions others have of us and we of them, even the perceptions we have of other people’s perceptions of us have actual affects on our day-to-day happiness. Understanding how perceptions are formed is the first step in finding a balanced viewpoint. When another considers us, they often use our actions, behaviors and words in forming opinions of us. Inversely, our opinions of ourselves are created from more abstract information like feelings, hopes and even thoughts of others but through the filters of our own biases. This is by no means to imply that others have a clearer or more accurate view of us. Their opinions can however, offer insight into how our actions and words are interpreted. It may sound easy to ask, so what’s your impression of me? But it may not be as easy to hear the response. Prepare yourself for honest feedback. More-so consider the opinions that you are likely to want to toss aside as wrong. Even if they appear harsh remember, they are opinions formed from your actions and words, which are things 42 EQUANIMITY | FALL EDITION 2010 you can control. They are not actual depictions of who you are. The point in doing this is not just to achieve knowing yourself or finding a ‘oneness’. The first benefit from understanding how others view you is the reward of effective influence. By this we mean, you will have an easier time finding help from others at work, friends who will more often look out for you and possibly more people in general who consider you a friend. If you can understand how others view you and you can also calculate and focus your efforts to come across clearly in the way you want, you have a better chance of winning anyone to your side in any interaction. “He who knows men is clever; He who knows himself has insight.” Taken from Tao Te Ching vs. 33 as translated by John C.H. Wu. An article published in Social Indicators Research, and within a month of the previous mentioned article, was from a study in Japan that found a correlation between meditation and positive views. This article states happiness is a result of self-esteem, have-want discrepancy and shifting tendency of importance perception entirely. Plainly put, when you have a positive perception of yourself, you feel good and your body benefits. The research on this would almost imply that the need for accuracy is needed far less in self-perception than understanding others’ view of you. Meaning, you might be better off thinking more of yourself than makes logical sense due to how much better you will perform and how much happier you will be. However, in doing so, you can easily set yourself up for a fall if someone opens the door and a gust of wind fronts your house of cards. If you believe too strongly into a false image of yourself, you will be the one hurt, having betrayed yourself when a circumstance or person forces you to see the truth. Balance and truth are the strengths in this one. Knowing how people see you and how you see yourself is the best first step in gaining either. And while it can be argued that what others think of you isn’t that important, it is a no-brainer how crucial what you think of yourself.