People, Perception, and Pessimists

News flash! Everyone of us has a unique mind. That means we each perceive the world in different ways. That’s great news if you’re a fan of diversity of thought, but if people who think outside of your box, make you a little edgy, well, this can be a hard lesson to learn. It is particularly hard when you’re married to someone who lives in a different universe. Blame the sexual hormones that got you together.

Here are some examples. Some people are concrete, literal thinkers. When I say, guess who I ran into today, they say, “You had a car accident?” When concrete thinkers read great metaphoric literature, they don’t know what all the fuss is about, because they can’t see beneath the surface level of the plot. Some have “Asperger’s syndrome” (and Aspie has also become code word for genius because these people sometimes have an superhero ability to obsess about a problem for a long time and solve it.) Other people think in symbols, double-entendre’s and art. If you don’t have a hippy friend who is into astrology, crystals, and past life regressions, let me tell ya, you are missing out! Does their use of symbols make them less intelligent than concrete thinkers? No way. But it makes them really fun at parties.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg of personality diversity. We’ve all heard of pessimists and optimists. Some people just look for that glass-half full, and others are looking for the robber who stole half their drink. Positive thinking can also improve health and well-being. I often wonder if pessimists and optimists are born or taught. I think it’s a bit of both.

The there are people whose behavior is guided by either internal or external cues. You know the ones who read fashion magazines like they are a bible, drive the acceptable car and speak in acceptable language. Externally guided people. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get through the day if I worried too much about what other people think I should be doing. There are too many generals inside myself telling me what’s right and what’s wrong with me. I’m internally guided.

Then there are empathetic people and disconnected souls who can’t seem to have any intuition for what another person might be feeling. I think those people post mean things online a lot.

Or how about liberals verses conservatives? A new study shows that these two types actually have different brain structures. Conservatives show a larger area of the brain that senses fear and liberals show a larger area that can deal with uncertainty and conflicts. I’m not making this up.

But the biggest lesson here is that we all have to find a way to get along because we share the same world and sometimes the same bathroom. I hate the word “tolerance” because I think we should do more than tolerate each other. I think we should learn from each other. Maybe even embrace each other. But if we’re going to do that, we should all take more baths.



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