Reality is Perception

“Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock!” – Hannah Montana, 2007.

Our nervous system is what allows us to think, to plan, to make decisions and take action based on our perception of the world. Our brains are able to process massive amounts of data from the universe we inhabit, and the combination of chemical signals and electric potentials allows us to interpret the environment in which we live. Despite the large amount of data we are able to process, we are not directly connected to the universe the way single-celled organisms are, through a simple membrane. Instead, all of our sensory input is organized and processed by specialized areas of our nervous system. There is an absurd amount of information incoming all the time, so a significant portion of our brains are devoted to determining what’s worth processing. We are only consciously aware of the input we attend to. Subsequently, our world view is determined by the input we attend to, which form our observations of the world. The decisions we make are based on our respective interpretations of the world. The images we remember are conjured by our brain, not accurate reproductions of the universe. Since unattended sensory input is not remembered, it cannot factor into our perception of the world, and it therefore cannot have any impact on our decision-making process. Awareness is key because it determines our outlook which determines the actions we take which impact our environment are based on the decisions we make.

The only objective truth we can know is that all we know is what we experience. Everything we know about the world is from induction – we assume it’s true because our experience is all we have. We make assumptions and, if our experience never contradicts these assumptions, we accept these assumptions on lack of counterevidence. This is possible because all the information our consciousness is exposed to is interpreted by our brain.

Information comes in through our five sensory organs: touch, smell, taste, hearing, and seeing. Each is experienced in the sensory cells, then the information is transmitted to nerve cells in the brain. All of the sensory imagery except smell is then processed in the thalamus, a specialized part of the brain. In the cortex of the brain, there are many different areas that process and organize sensory imagery, especially visual and auditory imagery. Our brains alter the incoming information, organizing it to form a worldview. Our belief systems compose our worldview – we see what we think we are going to see. This is why outlook is critical. We process information based on what we attend to.
There are many interesting related psychological phenomena – inattentional blindness is a process whereby people don’t notice something, often something obvious, in their environment because they are busy attending to something else (demonstrated in this video).

Life, which is composed of your personal experience, really is what you make it to be. This is the single most important lesson I’ve learned over the past year, over and over again. I still forget sometimes, but my life is always better when I’m able to remember that I have the power to create the world I inhabit.

What Matters?

What matters?
Much of human literature attempts to answer this question. Beauty? Money? Love? Other people?

Ultimately, what matters is what matters to you, since reality is perceived. I will definitely elaborate on this in a future post, but long story short: our perception of the world is contingent on the information we attend to, which is determined by what we choose to focus on. We usually choose to focus on information that is congruent with our previous experiences so we don’t have to expend energy changing our beliefs.

The fundamental premise of a person’s belief system is the foundation upon which their perception of the world is built. All of their resulting ideas, including any subsequent premises and ultimate conclusions, stem from this thought process. Since our actions are based on our ideas, our underlying system of values determines our ultimate impact on the world. For this reason, I think that the most important aspect of our thought processes is our system of constitutional values, the things we believe in that allow everything else to happen.

What do you believe in? What matters to you? How can you construct your life around your beliefs? It is impossible to deduce a sound conclusion from an uncertain premise. That’s how logic works. How can your actions be aligned with your system of beliefs if you don’t know what you believe in? Awareness is key to instigating change. Faith is found while pursuing the ends regardless of means, making any sacrifice, but one shouldn’t believe blindly.

If you want to do something meaningful, you need to create meaning. If you want to do something you believe in, find something you believe in. It’s so simple and logical, but it seems like few people make the time to think about what they want, what they value, and pursue it.

I give a lot of meaning to all forms of life, especially human experience – I consider peoples’ feelings and memories to be very significant. I believe that what we do, how we impact the living world and alter the future is all that matters. I believe it matters because it makes a difference. I think our actions are especially meaningful if they’re able to shape a person’s experience, ideally for the better. I believe love optimizes human experience, so it’s really important to me.

I try to embody these values as much as possible, to love all I can and shape my actions to create the best possible future. It’s easy to write out and explain, so simple and logical in theory, but it’s not as straightforward in practice. Sometimes I forget what I’m ultimately trying to do, and I get lost, influenced by external factors (read: societal pressure and cognitive dissonance). I mess up all the time, but I’m trying to make a positive difference in the world, because that’s what matters to me.

((matter matters))