Expanding your reality

In the last article we talked about different ways to expand your view of reality, how to increase your perception of the world and begin to understand things from other peoples points of view. Mastering this ability can help to make you better at persuading, influencing, debating and ultimately being a more effective and efficient individual.

Assuming you have been trying out some of the mental exercises in the last article, today we will look at how you can begin to make some more longer lasting changes that will help you to think of things from different perspectives more regularly.

Becoming your own editor

As you go through your day you take in information and interpret the things around you, creating a sort of story in your mind as to what has happened that day. What you may not realise is that you are part of that story as well. While your conscious brain takes everything in you unconsciously form your own narratives that frame the world and shape your sense of reality.

Like any story these narratives you create can be edited with a technique called story-editing described by Timothy D. Wilson, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. In story editing you start with an expressive writing exercise, the process is rather simple:

  • Find a quiet place to write
  • Commit to writing about a problem for fifteen minutes a day for three consecutive days.

Each time you write about a problem or what is causing you stress you reveal more. By understanding it more you can edit the story by looking at it from different perspectives (think along the lines of the alternative views idea from our last article).

This process can help to interpret yourself differently in the world and provide insight into how the issue you are facing is affecting your decisions, creativity and productivity.

Expressive writing has many benefits and uses. Although the scientific research surrounding the value of expressive writing is still in the early phases, there are some approaches to writing that have been found to be helpful. For more info and tips about expressive writing click here.

Change how you present yourself

In the past we have talked about the importance of selecting clothing to improve decision making (What do Mark Zuckerberg, President Obama and Homer Simpson all have in common) and we know that what we wear influences other people, but further to this it affects our own thinking as well. New research from Northwestern University suggests that you may be influenced by how you present yourself. Researches call this ‘enclothed cognition’ and theorise that clothes effect not just how you are seen, but also how you see yourself. The research is in its early stages but it is worth trying out an experiment of your own.¬† Outfit yourself different for a day every now and then and take note of how people perceive you and how you perceive yourself. Does wearing a tie make you feel like more of an adult, does wearing a suit jacket make you feel more confident? Change your perception and change your reality.

Try on a different personality

The idea of trying on a new self can be a fun exercise, it might seem a little strange if you do it around people who know you already but random conversations with strangers on a bus or short flight can be reality changing.

For introverts like myself this can be a really interesting experience. I often wish I was a little more talkative and socially skilled at parties, and its something you can change if you work at it. So for other introverts take an opportunity to be an extrovert for a little while, engage with people and notice the difference in perception you get

Rearranging your environment to see new things

Rearranging your home or desk is an interesting way to explore the reality you have formed. After some time we become so familiar with our environment we stop paying attention to it. Try and reset your focus by changing the reality around you, it can be as simple as moving a piece of furniture or swapping places for items on your desk.

Take different routes and find new areas

Just like changing your environment try changing the way you get to work. We are creatures of habit and simply expanding your reality by taking a different route to work one day, jogging along a different path  or going about your grocery shopping differently can give a cognitive bump that might help you to look at things from another perspective.