Our Perceptions Are Our Reality

Our Perceptions Are Our Reality

Perception is, after all, reality, and it's our individual truths that actually matter, at the end of the day.

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"Perception is more important than reality. If someone perceives something to be true, it is more important than if it is in fact true. This doesn't mean you should be duplicitous or deceitful, but don't go out of your way to correct a false assumption if it plays to your advantage," Ivanka Trump once wrote.

The quote from Ivanka Trump is often ridiculed, but has some truth to her perspective.

There's a documentary that I watched on Netflix a while ago, "Take Your Pills," that sparked a question about the role of adderall and amphetamines on mental performance: they don't really make you more able to perform complex cognitive tasks, they make you think you can.

Likewise, in Season 5 of "The Wire," Chris and Snoop teach Michael a valuable lesson about street reputation: it doesn't matter what someone did or didn't do. It matters that people think they did it. They walk into a house and kill a rival drug dealer and his whole family because they heard he called their boss, Marlo, a homophobic slur.

"You heard? You ain't sure?" Michael says.

"People say he said it," Snoop responds.

"Doesn't matter if he said it or not. People think he said it. You can't let that shit go," Chris says.

For reputation, it's clear that perception often matters more than reality. People have to think you're good at something, or have a certain dispositional trait and word of honor for that to go. Michael brings up the point of why it matters: if Marlo knows he isn't what that dealer called him, why does it matter? But in the world of Chris, Snoop, and Michael, perception matters more than reality. In fact, perception is reality.

The term "reality" tries to assess certainty to situations that are inherently uncertain, and while this article isn't a defense of the age-old maxim that perception matters more than reality, the truth is that few people can ever see an untainted truth - even when witnessing the same event. The Rashomon Effect refers to how different people can witness the same event and give it completely contradictory interpretations. In that regard, the only reality that matters is our own. Perception and reality aren't different things. Our perceptions are our realities, and the world works by people acting based on things they perceive, not a complex analysis of every single issue and nuance.

We know of the psychological self-fulfilling prophecy: tell yourself you're going to have a horrible day at work, and you're more likely to change your actions so you have a terrible day. But I buy into many of these psychological phenomena too much and try to apply them to my daily life: sometimes, I try to change my perceptions to change my reality. I attempt to trick myself and upend the story and beliefs I've been living my whole life - and that's okay, but it is a process that is gradual and takes much more than a single change in thinking.

There is an idea in social psychology that attitudes follow behavior, and that we can change our attitudes by changing our behavior. I can see the places where this works in my life: when I think I have writer's block and I'm unable to write, the action that curbs that feeling is to start writing. When I think I don't have the energy to run on a given day or time, the action that curbs that attitude is to go outside and go on a run. Sometimes, I'll think that a class is really boring and not valuable to my education, and then that attitude will completely change the moment I raise my hand and either ask a question or participate in class discussion.

Something I have always advised writers, when they lack motivation or they don't believe in their abilities, is to look back at what they have already done, articles or works they have already written. Take some time to give yourself some credit and compassion, and see what you can do with that. I do this myself when I don't believe in my ability to write: I read some of my past articles that myself and others have found particularly meaningful. When I lack the motivation to run, I look back at the last time I ran 20 or more miles and the mental strength I exuded to do that.

There is a line I enjoy from Meg Jay's 2018 article in the Wall Street Journal, "The Secrets of Resilience," that the best way to harness and awaken our inner resilience in the face of tough circumstances is to "think back on a time when you were challenged and give yourself credit for how you made it through." And so the key to bettering our perceptions, attitudes, and henceforth actions is to realize that we are always growing. We are always going up a spiral staircase that can seem repetitive, but always progressive. We learn something new every time, and we gain more strength with each passing difficult circumstance.

I do not know whether my life lessons and adages are truth or reality, but they are my reality, and that's perhaps what matters. Perception is, after all, reality, and it's our individual truths that actually matter, at the end of the day.

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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