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Take in some breathe of fresh air. Drink a cup of steamy coffee. Smack your lips in response to an amusement. Wink at a crush. Tap your foot. Flap your ears. Gaze into thin air for a moment. All of these random activities we carry out every day consciously or unconsciously signifies that we are living beings, capable of expressing emotions through thoughts or actions – Which must be subject to perceptive interpretations!

Just as everything you hear, see, feel or experience is individually specific to you and would not always be the same way another would feel or experience the same situation. This is what perception is about.

Perception differs from mind to mind, depending on how an individual thinks, analyses, validates and makes convictions about things with the influence of time, age, culture, sex, expertise and a lot more variable factors .

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After church service yesterday, two elders of the church (a Lady and a Man) had gone up the lectern to make a few announcements. The Lady spoke first, with a sweet voice, and an attractive enunciation of words that made the church ever so attentive to a point of disturbing silence –probably from an admiration of the speaker’s allure! When it was time for the man to speak, he began with “Wetin all that grammar mean, be say…”  

The entrance of his speech surely vibed up the entire church, replacing the minutes of silence into an uproar of laughter, because the man continued with a blend of english and “pigin”, the local language everyone understands.

Now, what would make the man believe he had conveyed his message better than the lady, asides the affirmative laughter rendered by the church members? This can be nothing beyond perception!

While some people would obviously relate with the man who had felt he was bringing his speech down to the level of understanding of the church members, some others would have simply thought the man was just craggy with his words and the lady spoke better instead. Perceptions.

A Man who on returning home after the day’s job, decided to mount on his donkey while his son followed on by foot, had caused passers-by to say “Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”  When he by compulsion, mounted his son on the donkey, still there came “See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.” Yet again, when the father lifted the child off the donkey and decided that they all walked, there still was some tongue lashing “You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”. Perceptions.

Again, I have wondered– The only reason most Christian churches have now changed the lines of these popular Christian songs “You will never always share your glory with any man” and “When trouble success comes my way I will praise your name”– would be for no reason but perception! Even though I have a big problem with the distortion of the lines of the songs based on my own perception too, I cannot challenge the church, so we all sing along!

For the same inevitability of perception, the pessimist sees the classic half cup of water as “half empty”, the optimist sees the same cup as “half full”, the capitalist thinks of bottling the water up and giving it a catchy name that will sell, and the opportunist simply thinks of just drinking up the water.

Perception is indeed a powerful tool! It occupies the mind and sets the tone for everything we do, positioning us for a lifelong point of view.

However, as our daily perceptions towards things build up, they accelerate our drive towards certainty of our personal ideals. Sometimes, somewhere in between, we all get caught up with our own perception and beliefs that we end up talking about the same thing or event but interpreting it differently. This is where perceptions become distorted, and distorted perceptions are powerful too!

Akara nor be beans cake again?

The repercussion of this is that we stereotypically give things names and labels, scrutinizing, affirming and critically analysing and categorizing, without proffering any solution (in the case of a problem) but simply replacing an already existing problem with even more problems.

So, Kenechukwu the typical Generation X man can either choose to accommodate a Generation Y lady whose perception of life is entirely different from his, or remain single and searching– hoping for the perfect Generation X lady to cross his way, for love of perception.

But then the big question beckons, after a torrent of perceptions, what next? 

Since perception has no one way to look at a particular situation or thing no matter how certain we are, perhaps, to make better decisions, sometimes, we need to step out of our cognitive box to experience sanity, stability, freedom and peace.

Positive realistic perceptions surely leads to well-being. The more in touch one’s perception is with the present reality, the more positively conditioned the mind can be! 

Change Your Perception, Change Your story, Change Your Life

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Written by:

Chinonye J. Chidolue (Nonyewrites)

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