Seeing Is Being

Or How To Change Your Life

Seeing Is Being
Photo by Jeremy Bishop / Unsplash

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received for changing your life is to look at the lens through which you see the world.

The lens is what determines how you interpret everything you see. Which in turn determines how you experience it. Which determines how you act. Seeing is being.

For example, if you had a pain that spontaneously appeared in your legs and arms, you'd probably be worried. But if it appeared after a full day of exercise, you would probably feel very good about it.

The “raw data” – in this case, the pain in your legs and arms – is the same, but the way you interpret it, and thus think and feel about it, is not.

Since everything is filtered, processed, and interpreted through the lens through which you see the world, it makes sense to focus on the lens rather than its objects in order to change your life.

Whether it is your identity, your habits, your personal well-being, or even your relationships with others, they all depend on the way you currently see them.

If we work on our interpretations, we'll think, act, and feel differently about them. Which in turn changes them.

For example, let's say you want to live a healthier life.

One approach might be to try a certain tactic and technique. But unless you see yourself as a healthy person, it's easy to fall back into old habits and patterns and carry on as before. This won't get you very far because it's a superficial change.

If, instead, you worked on perceiving yourself as a healthy person first, you'd begin to adopt healthy behaviors more or less naturally. Your brain will try to live in accordance with how you perceive yourself. You start doing things that healthy people do: healthy things.

While just trying a particular tactic is a bit like a Band-Aid, working on your perception is like working on the core. It's the deepest change you can make, and therefore the most effective and the hardest. It's not a quick fix.

So how do you make that kind of change?

That's something I'm still trying to figure out, but I've found two approaches that have worked pretty well for me so far.

The first approach is to spend time with people who are already the way you want to be. People for whom this behavior or self-image is already normal. There's a saying that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. While it's not clear if this is actually true, it's a helpful way to think about personal change.

So in this context, being around people who live healthy lives would be a great strategy.

Another approach is to think about on the paradigms you have about yourself.

This can be done through reflection, or through self-affirmations that you constantly revisit and put somewhere where you see them regularly. For example, I had a little note next to my mirror that said, "I am very beautiful," and after a few months, that was exactly how I saw myself.

The main takeaway from this little piece of advice is that there is another level where change is possible, and that this level is the lens through which you see the world.

So the next time you want to change something in your life, look at your paradigms and how you see yourself. The answer to your struggles may be hidden here.


This is an excerpt of a post on Mental Garden, a regular newsletter designed to help you become a better human through guided introspections. Read the full post and sign up now.