I really love the leggings I’m wearing in the picture above. They remind me of Impressionist paintings and bring back fond memories of a trip I took with my family to France when I was twelve, where we wandered around museums and the gardens of grand palaces.
As I drove my 16 year old son to school the other day, I asked him if he liked my leggings. He quickly glanced over. “They’re the ugliest things I’ve ever seen in my life,” he responded flatly. “They look like curtains hanging in an old lady’s house.”
So what do you think? Who's right? Are the leggings as fabulous to you as they are to me? Or are they as ugly as my 16 year old believes they are?
Well, we’re both right. They are equally beautiful and hideous depending on who is looking at them. Which makes them neither beautiful, nor hideous, really. There’s no objective truth we can assign to the leggings. The leggings don’t have any characteristics of their own outside of the point of view of who's looking at them.
To me, they're amazing. To my son, not so much. He experiences them differently than I do and his perspective is as real to him as my opinion is the truth to me.
Here's another example. Imagine a spider crawls into a room. You may experience it as something to be afraid of if you don’t like bugs, something to be fascinated by if you study insects, or something to eat if you’re a reptile. The spider itself? It has no objective or absolute identity. It is simply whatever it is to whomever is looking at it, in that moment.
How does that relate to our day to day? If we remember that everyone’s perspective is as valid to them as ours is to us, what is there to ever argue about? Who’s right and who’s wrong becomes pointless. When we incorporate this concept into our interactions with others, conflict in our lives lessen. Less conflict means a happier and more peaceful life.
Not easy to master, by any means, but something to think about next time you’re having a tense back and forth with someone and you’re 100% sure you are right. Pause. Try to remember the absence of an objective truth. Maybe figure out what the other person's very real-to-them point of view is.
I’m still working hard on it... particularly when interacting with my teenagers. :)
This is the kind of stuff I teach in my meditation and yoga classes because it's fundamental in eastern philosophy. If it resonates, scroll down to see my schedule. To book a private lesson or more importantly, let me know what you think about my leggings, you can respond to this email.
See ya on the mat,