This is the first in a series of articles based on The Twelve Attributes of Human Functioning as set forth in the book The Life We are Given, by George Leonard and Michael Murphy. You can find the entire list in last week’s blog post. These articles reflect my own personal interpretation of those attributes.
The first of these attributes concerns The Perception of External Events.
Our actions, our attitudes and our behaviors are based on our perceptions of what goes on around us, reality notwithstanding. Perception is a process by which individuals organize and interpret their sensory impressions in order to give meaning to their environment.
For example, we watch the evening news on television. The news portrayed on Television for the most part is bad. Therefore, often we perceive the world at large as bad. Yet, the reality is that: “For every act of evil we see on the television, there are millions of acts of kindness.” — Wayne Dyer on Oprah.
How we perceive outside events can be positive or negative. If we see most events as positive, we are usually happy and content with life. If we see outside events as negative, we incur a lot of stress. We know that stress can result in sickness, poor overall health, and unhappiness.
How do you react when you are driving down the road and someone cuts you off in a dangerous and irresponsible way? What is your immediate reaction and how do you handle it? Often the digital salute is your response. How does this make you feel? Do you feel yourself tense up? Do you clench your other hand on the steering wheel? Can you feel your body tighten up overall? What words do you say under your breath? Often your can stomach churns and you might even feel nauseous . The result is stress.
You’ve heard the expression, “it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to what happens to you.” How you perceive and react to external events can affect your health. Stress is basically conscious or unconscious negative emotions that are being held in the body. Negative emotions can cause your body to be acidic (as opposed to an alkaline pH.), and can result in physical illness. Disease happens in an acidic internal environment and doesn’t exist in an alkaline environment.
In the 12 Step recovery community, one of the things I hear often is about how a person has stopped the overt “digital salute reaction” to traffic and other perceptually stressful situations, and has just “let go of it” The comments about the physical reaction within the body are telling, as well as comments about the resulting mental and emotional serenity and lack of stress. It’s the reaction to the perception of the reality of the situation that makes the difference
As we age, our perceptions about things change. The way we see events changes. For example, when we are in middle age, we perceive life as challenging, uncertain and stressful. As we get older, we tend to change that perception to one of “acceptance” of current reality as it really is, and our perceptions of reality are often closer to that real reality than ever (yes, that’s what I meant to say). Our actions, attitudes and behaviors usually change for the better. When they don’t, we open ourselves up to excessive stress and poor health. How we perceive the world around us is a function of our attitude, and as the Motivational Speaker, the late Zig Ziglar observed: Attitude is Everything.
Thank you for reading.