Audit your social circle
In 1970, two scientists at Cambridge University (C. Blakemore and F. Cooper) did a fascinating but rather cruel experiment with kittens: they put them in a dark room and they deprived them from light during several months. Just two hours per day they beamed in just enough light for the kittens to see a couple of vertical black and white stripes. That’s it. Just a couple of hours, a couple of stripes. After several months, the scientists released the kittens from the dark and they discovered that their cortical cells (the cells in the eyeballs) could no longer see horizal lines. They literally bumped into horizontal ropes that were stretched out in front of them.
This experiment illustrates that your perceptions are indeed influenced by what you have been conditioned to see. However, we do not always ‘see’ the complete image because our brain is one big filtering machine. Moreover, the setup of the brain of many people – call it their mental architecture - is never changing. Very early on – say, in the first 4 to 5 years of your life – your mind has established a pattern for perception. And everything that is not fitting in that pattern is filtered out. Did you know that your brain receives 400 billion bits of info per second? Processing all that information consciously would take over 800 years. Luckily enough, your brain decides which bits to let in. However, the bad news is that is we only see a fraction of ‘what is’. Only a couple of minutes compared to 800 years. This also influences our thinking: we often think that we are thinking, but essentially we are looking at a “movie from the past”: our subconscious mind is programmed in such a way that we often think and experience the same.
Do you know how many thoughts you have on a daily basis? 60.000. About 59.000 of them are the exact same thoughts you had yesterday... Scientists indeed tell us that 98% of our 60.000 thoughts are repeats from the day before and that 95% of these thoughts are controlled by our preprogrammed subconcious mind.
In 1961, the anthropologist Colin Turnbull did an interesting experiment with Pygmies. He took a group of Pygmies outside of the forest where they lived and he noticed that they did not have a sense of depth because they had never been exposed to wide open areas. So indeed, your perceptions and your thinking are influenced by what you have been conditioned to see and once you have developed a thought system, you will live by it. Your past experiences get you stuck in your current thinking.
So: you need to break out. One way to do that is to audit your social circle. How similar and how different are most people from you? Are you surrounded by echos? Or by different voices? Reach out to the ones that do not think and act like you. Embrace people who have different perspectives and remember what Jim Rohn once said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.
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