Tag Archives: point of view

Our world is a shared experience fractured by our individual perspectives.

Dr. Ken Larsen

I recently saw the quote in the title above and was immediately struck with the insight it contains.  Sadly, I cannot remember where I saw it.

I shudder to think of the seeds of murder and mayhem that have been sown because we have failed to look beyond our own perspective.  Dr. Glasser warned us that our efforts to control one another to do what our perspective dictates can have no good outcome.

JFK-quoteCan’t we see that we have as much in common as we have things that divide us?  JFK said it well, “…We share the same planet, breathe the same air, cherish our children’s future and we are all mortal.”

We also have the same needs for love, freedom, self-efficacy, fun and safety.  What we don’t have in common is a common point of view.   A “point of view” is simply a view from one point. If we would take a step back and realize that each of us sees the world differently we might be able to move closer by accepting one another’s experience of life.  I cannot see what you see and you cannot see what I see.  We can talk about those different perspectives and grow in our understanding of one another and the world, but we cannot make others see as we see.  Recognizing these differences offers an opportunity to enrich our experience of life by sharing and working together to get our needs met.  We have fought over our differences for far too long in the weary and bloody history of our species.  Evidence for this abounds in today’s news, and as I see the sad and tragic plight of so many of our fellow humans I remember Pete Seeger’s words “…when will they ever learn, Oh, when will they ever learn?”  Although we need to change the “they” to “we”.

Mental health and happiness depend on us getting along with one another and helping each other get our needs met.  In this holiday season with our plastic celebrations that Pope Francis has labeled “a charade” (because of the global strife and rampant human tragedy) can we let our awareness of our terrible inhumanity to one another move us toward a kinder, more thoughtful care for one another, and perhaps even closer to the angelic anthem of “peace on earth to men of good will?”



Every Point of View is a view from one point…

Dr. Ken Larsen

Life and relationships are multi-dimensional.  If we limit our experience of life to a single point of view, our experience will be significantly less that it could be.

Mike Rice recently published a blog where he described the importance of sharing our experience of life with another.  I recall that he went so far as to state that happiness is elusive unless we are connected and sharing with another.

I use this prop as a simple way to visualize the limits of a single point of view.  I wonder how the meaning of much of life is lost because we haven’t shared those experiences with another and “seen” the world through someone’s eyes other than our own.

box1If we just see the box, we miss the beauty within. box2 If we experience only one dimension of the many that make up life, our experience of mental health and happiness is less than it could be.

Dialogue is one way to experience more than one point of view.  In his book “The Miracle of Dialogue” Reuel Howe makes this opening statement:

“Every man [person] is a potential adversary, even those whom we love.  Only through dialogue are we saved from this enmity toward one another.  Dialogue is to love, what blood is to the body.  When the flow of blood stops, the body dies.  When dialogue stops, love dies and resentment and hate are born.”

Sadly, when we are faced with a point of view other than our own, we often tend to judge and discount the other in favor of that internal conviction that the way we see things is the right way to see things.

I am color blind, so getting the point of view of another is helpful and possibly necessary.  Especially when I am getting dressed up.  I once put on what I thought was a blue shirt, only to have Sheren, my wife, gently tell me that it was pale purple.  Sigh.

Just as getting a different perspective on the box is going to give us a more complete picture, being open to the point of view of others can expand, deepen and enrich our own experience of mental health and happiness.




Perception is Reality….really???

Dr. Ken Larsen

A friend of mine is the news anchor for a Midwest TV station.  She was interviewing me about how our brain processes our sensory experience.  At one point she reported that it is a common understanding that perception is reality.  I think many of us believe that that is true.

A firm grasp on reality is kind of important to be mentally healthy.  However, there was something unsettled in me about simply accepting that “perception is reality.”  What came to mind is the old Philosophy 101 question, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, is there a sound?”  The answer of course depends on how you define sound.  That same answer can apply to how we define “reality”.

How much strife and conflict have come to us because of not understanding what this picture illustrates?

Many if not most disagreements are simply the result of “missed understanding.”   See how that applies to this picture.  Each of them is clear on “reality”.  It is the same thing for both of them.  Here’s the rub.  If perception is reality, then there are two “realities” which is clearly nonsense.

perception1What happens when they realize their only difference is point of view.  I can imagine them sharing a laugh together and instead of a conflict, they would come to a deeper understanding of each other.

This is a two minute video I did with some friends a couple of years ago.  It illustrates this point in a light hearted manner.  I have heard reports from people all over our country and from as far away as India and South Africa who have enjoyed this video.