03 Modern Mindset principle: Perspective
Museum, New York City,
When most people say the same thing, it doesn’t always mean it’s true. When people have the same choices, it doesn’t necessarily mean they pick the correct one over the most common one. And when someone tells us to do something in a particular way, it doesn’t always mean it’s the right way to do that thing. It raises a question: How often do we challenge our own process of thinking rather than adopt the status quo? Are there any benefits in gaining a better perspective, and if so, could we use it to our advantage?
We live in an age of information where we can instantly access anything. Whatever we might be searching for, we can always find multiple answers. Even information we are not directly looking for is presented to us through a constant influx of news, advertisements and social media updates. Everywhere we look, we are flooded with different opinions, claims, and points of view.
It isn’t exactly straightforward to find a satisfactory answer in this information overload, let alone the truth. Therefore most of us tend to accept or reject any information straightaway. All too easily, we identify with what is known as the “commonly perceived truth” — this is any information that has been repeated enough times that it can become perceived as truthful over time. Commonly perceived truths also have the power to influence beliefs, behaviors and identities on a large scale. For example, many of us might repeatedly buy a product based on promising yet not always truthful claims; or vote for a politician with favorable yet not always genuine intentions. Perhaps, instead of passively absorbing whatever we might be presented with, we should always investigate what information we can trust and accept. To do so, we must establish a deeper understanding of other kinds of truths.
On the individual level, we have a “personal truth,” which is an accumulation of information we perceive as our own truth that defines our own beliefs, behavior and identity. These are the driving forces behind an individual’s life. They determine what decisions we make, what ideals we aspire to, and what expectations — if any — we have of ourselves.
Most of us are content with our own righteousness and are fine getting through life with it. But what about when our decision-making has unfavorable outcomes? When our ideals clash with the ideals of others? Or when our expectations are not indeed ours? It could be down to the fact that most of us are used to thinking on a superficial level. Some of us might even be too lazy to question the assumptions of others as well as our own.
Only by verifying the credibility of information and, therefore, its falseness or truthfulness are we able to find the “objective truth.” A truth that is solely supported by a wide range of facts. This truth brings us the clarity, through which we gain perspective and learn to see through the everyday blur. A clarity that helps us form a holistic point of view and therefore navigate our own lives and context better.
And so, to become effective thinkers, we must learn to deploy critical thinking to avoid being swayed by biases. They often distort reality and facts that are in front of us. Biases act like an invisible lens that significantly alters what and how we see, influencing our subjective beliefs of what we perceive to be real, right and correct. But again, our perceptions are not facts; therefore, biases can lead us only to unfavorable outcomes. Only by cultivating the ability to think effectively can we become independent thinkers, free our lives off of nonsensical information and claim our most truthful reality.