The whole Yanny vs. Laurel thing that swept the internet this week has me thinking about perception.* If you’re interested, here’s another fun one. With this one, what you hear depends on which phrase you’re thinking. Amazing.
“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.”
—Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism
The words we use shape what we see and how we feel about the world around us. Did you know that the language you speak also changes your perception of time? Some languages tend to use volume to describe time while others use length. Whether you describe your day as full or long changes your perceived duration of the day. Perhaps you’ve heard that a word for the color blue was missing from the ancient world. In the Odyssey, the sea was described as “wine-dark.” In cultures without a word for blue, blue was indistinguishable from green. Even in modern Japanese, the distinction between blue and green is hazy and traffic lights are said to turn blue. I find this nearly impossible to comprehend. Living in Sydney, I feel like I’m soaking in a blue-tinted world. There’s blue everywhere. To me, “blue” seems like a essential component of life on earth. I’m surprised it wasn’t one of the first words uttered. But what if I had no word for blue? Would the blue of the sky and green of the trees look like variations of the same color?
The way your brain is wired also changes what you perceive. Did you know that there are optical illusions that predict schizophrenia? It seems that people with schizophrenia tend to be either more or less susceptible to falling for optical illusions than people without schizophrenia, all due to the way their brains process information differently. In the cases in which they are not fooled, their perception is actually more realistic.
So, when it comes to perception:
- Our physical senses are limited.
- Our actions, words, and personal characteristics shape our perceptions.
- Many times we see (or hear) what we expect to see or hear.
- Our perceptions vary, so we cannot assume that what we perceive is the same as what someone else perceives.
- We see things differently depending on our vantage point.
What does all this mean to us? It means that a new view, a new perspective, whether from a new physical location, or new mindset, changes everything. And it means that we can’t really, truly know what someone else is experiencing. Because we’re not them.
For me at least, I will choose to see the best. I will choose to look for the most positive, beautiful, life affirming things. Because it’s all there already, right? We just have to know how to look.
Have a beautiful weekend. xx Tara
P.S. If you’re interested in tips for traveling with kids, check at my guest post on An Organized Life.
* For the record, the kids and I hear Yanny and my husband hears Laurel. No matter how hard I try, I can’t even imagine that the word I hear is Laurel.