Our own perspective, our personal point of view of the world, is all we have. It flows from a nearly undeniable truth that René Descartes brought to the west in saying that our thoughts prove our personal existence ( The old “I think therefore I am” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cogito_ergo_sum ) Given that our thought defines our reality we can open up to the idea that we are able to change our personal reality by adjusting our thinking. I think this is very true but there is a big problem with putting this solution on a person. All of these realizations depend on a certain amount of luxury.
It is known and true that people have maintained good attitudes through awful and destructive circumstances. People have successfully smiled and breathed with decided freedom in the midst of total oppression. They are rare but they demonstrate that we can change our experience by changing our perception of reality. Knowing that I must now take us down a different path. Depression, pain, anxiety; these are factors that can and will prevent people from being able to change their perspective.
If I were to see a person being pulled out to sea in a riptide and facing the fear of drowning I could tell them that some people have developed meditation techniques that let them slow their metabolism and hold their breath much longer than normal. That would be dumb as hell. In times of depression we can’t see the forces surrounding someone and pulling them down. Offering advice is what we like to do, human beings are problem solvers and very very good ones but when a persons vision of reality is being swallowed up by fear or sadness they can’t see their potential for control.
So what is the point of this knowledge? How can some people shape their own emotions and others not? Why bother trying to tell those who don’t believe that reality is subjective?
Even though the barriers to changing your feelings can be overwhelming it doesn’t change the fact that the core idea is true. (The idea that our own point of view is our own reality and that we have control over that point of view and thus our reality.) It’s up to us all to know when sharing this philosophy is helpful and how to communicate it.
A true undeniable part of the human condition is knowing that everyone is different. There are positive people and negative people. There are the chronically depressed and the happy go lucky AND the average ol’ human. All of us will experience highs and lows and despite our inborn tendency toward one extreme or another we always have the potential at some point in life to feel good enough to learn about our emotional state. Whether we decide to work on that is another story. The biggest difference in how you handle a tough time, I believe, comes from how you prepare yourself when you’re not bottoming out. That brings us to the concept of privilege in this text.
If a person has no time to ponder the world outside of sadness and overwhelming depression they can’t come to an enlightened conclusion. If you have that chance and you can think about what you think then count yourself lucky.
Finally what of the crowd that would say my entire presupposition is false. Well I can’t argue the most base point of the philosophy that I am standing on. If you don’t believe that your own thought, and the use of your senses is the definition of reality for you then I bring my point forward only as a reminder in the hope that you will be at least curious about the topic. I for many years questioned reality in a backwards fashion. I recommended that consciousness wasn’t real because it couldn’t be proven or measured. I now find that measuring is just another idea we made up to make sense out of things our mind doesn’t naturally inform us on.
Finally tell me what you think. Have you effected change by changing only yourself?