What emotion arises when you find out your brain might struggle to process correctly what your eyes see?
There is nothing hidden in the picture above. It’s just trees and their reflection on the water, but it helps with the mental imagery.
We look quickly at something, like these trees by a lake, and we consider the beauty of the setting, the stillness of the water, and our mind takes us to a quiet place of relaxation.
Perhaps we drift off for a moment and imagine the warm humid air surrounding us as we sit comfortably on the bank and watch evening close in on a forest night. The sounds of silence interrupted by a bullfrog or the song of crickets. The air cools. Our mind rests and our body relaxes.
Then someone tells us we are looking at the picture upside down.
Not possible. We can tell the difference. We’re not challenged by looking at a simple picture. Or are we?
Do you feel any anxiety or frustration now; maybe just a little?
We get accustomed to accepting what we see at face value on initial examination. And because of this, we are susceptible to giving away hard-earned mental clarity to those who prey on the malleable personality trait of a crowd-thinker (my idea of individuals who easily accept what is popular is true; just because it’s popular).
And while I don’t accept ideas based on popularity, I believe what I see many times. I think it’s easier.
When looking at a picture of trees and water, this issue of trusting the eyes and the mind holds no catastrophic outcome. But there are so many more times throughout our life that such easy acceptance can lead to much more unpleasant results.
I have a trusting soul, taking people at face value until proven otherwise. Unfortunately, there are times I get taken advantage of as a result.
So, should I stop the practice of believing in my fellow traveler? Is living in fear or a cautious paranoia the solution to keeping my pride intact?
I think none of those are the right answer. Because most of the time, the kindness of strangers rewards my trust or I receive satisfaction through helping others.
Instead, what years of life experience teaches me is that a healthy evaluation of critical ideas is always worth the effort.
As a younger man, reading books or talking to experts provided my research. Books were fact-checked and verified. I trusted the encyclopedia. I trusted life experience and its gained wisdom for giving me the right gut instinct in questionable situations.
Today, most of us trust the internet. But the internet is full of garbage.
Someone you know little to nothing about typed this post with the freedom to put any words desired onto this page and publish it for the world to see. The responsibility to believe or disregard them is completely in your hands.
Are the words you read and the idea they bring into your mind trustworthy of acceptance?
How about if I brought up a recent study by MIT professor Albert Brennan concluding that 25% of all adults over the age of 23 yrs old accept internet-based statistics at face value with no additional investigation?
That number seems low.
Now, what if I told you the paragraph about the professor and his statistics is made up; all false information. Can you sense a small amount of frustration or anxiety perhaps like finding out the picture of the trees and water is upside down?
I think frustration and anxiety are the mind’s way of telling us we must use its full power in any decision-making process. Emotions move us to action, but logic provides the fact-checking. Too many times we forget to use the logic part.
How many times do you make a really good decision while you are really angry? Emotional actions are not our greatest moments. The fight-or-flight segment of our brain is wired to react with action, not respond with wisdom.
And response is always a better choice than reaction when time permits the luxury.
I try to remember these concepts throughout my day and find I trust my eyes and mind will communicate more intentionally while reviewing the world around me.
I know the importance of daily vigilance, verifying my perception before it becomes an incorrect or corruptible reality.
So I enjoy the pictures of lakes and trees that pass before my eyes during my journey. I take in the serenity of calm waters and still forests, appreciating the mental clarity they may instill.
But I learn to look closely when the mind signals a possible misperception and do a little fact checking on my own.
The alternative is to find myself mentally toppled in this crazy world, never figuring out which way is up.