To me – during many years – life was suffering. On one hand this was the effect of physical pain I had gotten used to and on the other hand it was due to my way of looking at the world. Now I know that life is a precious gift. The more bliss I am ready to receive the more joy I find in my everyday life.
Life on earth seemed ‘unjust’ to me when I was a teenager. I saw the hunger in the world and so many people living in poverty. There were thousands of children dying and all the violence and cruelty that human beings are capable of inflicting on each other.
As a young adult I even felt ashamed that I was so ‘lucky’ to be part of the ‘privileged’ 10% (or even less) of this planet. I wanted to contribute somehow to alleviate the suffering of the people that were not born in Switzerland like me. I wanted to work in the humanitarian or human rights field and that’s why I chose to study International Relations.
Eye openers for a naïve Swiss
Before going to university I travelled on my own around Central America during several months. The main reason was to improve my Spanish. But I was also keen on visiting archaeological sites and broadening my life experience.
And I wanted to visit Guatemala. I wanted to meet the people living in this country with the horrible civil war I had been ‘observing’ in a local volunteer group of Amnesty International for a couple of years.
Two things struck me particularly during my stay there: first of all, I met several fellow travelers from Europe and the USA who ignored completely that a civil war was going on. How on earth could they not know (and not care?)?!
Second, while travelling around parts of the country that were heavily affected by the war but by then ‘safe’ for white tourists I came across men and women who beamed at me. Compared to the people I was used to see at home on the streets and in public transport they seemed to be genuinely content and happy.
How we create our reality
The aim of this article is not to analyse my naïve and still biased observations from then. I wanted to tell you about this experience to draw your attention to two facts: 1) we humans suffer from the negativity bias and 2) we constantly construct our ‘reality’.
Each of us has preferences and auto pilots that make us focusing on certain things and ignoring others. We have adopted habits of perceiving things and believing that something is ‘normal’ or ‘the truth’.
The fact that we perceive ‘reality’ not the way it ‘is’ lies at the heart of radical constructivism.
When I was coached for the first time in my life at the age of 30 I suddenly understood that I can choose anytime where to focus on…
Read more about this topic in my article The coaching tool that changed my life forever.
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