Why Do We See Things the Way We Do? [Guest Post] by Hyrum Smith

Have you ever wondered how it is possible that two reasonable, intelligent, caring people can see the same set of circumstances and come to completely different opinions about it?  In politics, it happens all the time.  People who are otherwise very much alike in their feelings about people, in their concern for their community, and in their desire to make a difference, can be diametrically opposed politically.  They may even end up shouting at each other, trying to get through the other person’s “thick skull.”

There is a simple explanation for the problem, but not necessarily an easy solution.  The fact is that from the time we enter the world, until the time we leave it, we have experiences, read things, hear things, and feel things that imprint in our minds a view of how the world works.  We create a set of guidelines on how to behave based on what we believe we have seen.

To take a simplistic example, watch the way people behave around pets.  If a person was raised in a home that had a playful, loving dog as a pet, that person probably enjoys dogs and will pet and even talk to one, given the opportunity.  Another person may have been attacked and bitten by a dog early in life and carries an understandable fear of the animal.  That person is not likely to be the first to walk up to see if a dog is friendly or not.

How we feel about dogs probably won’t have a significant impact on our lives (unless we marry someone with exactly the opposite view on the subject).  However, our views on many other things can and will have a significant impact on our lives.  If we believe that children should be seen and not heard, but are then blessed with children who are vociferous and opinionated, there is likely to be a problem in the home.  How we deal with that depends on how clearly we understand how our own beliefs are impacting our life.

There are not many things in our daily lives that are based on absolute, scientific fact.  Almost everything we encounter is colored by our belief about it.  If there is pain, dissatisfaction, unrest, or dysfunction in our lives, it is often a result of what we believe about something.  Our beliefs lead us to act in certain ways.  When those actions don’t bring us happiness and peace, it is more likely than not that the problem lies in what we believe about life.  Remember, almost all beliefs are “choices” we make, not hard and fast facts.

In the book, The 3 Gaps, this concept is explored in more depth.  The connection between beliefs, actions, and happiness and peace is pretty straightforward.  The trick is knowing that this is happening to all of us, and then knowing how to recognize and overcome things that cause us pain.  The first step is believing that you can have a happy life, no matter what your circumstances.  The people who tell their stories in the book will amaze you.  I guarantee they will also inspire you.


Hyrum Smith is a distinguished author, speaker, and businessman. He is the co-founder and former CEO of FranklinCovey®. For three decades, he has empowered people to effectively govern their personal and professional lives. Hyrum’s books and presentations have been acclaimed by American and international audiences. He combines wit and enthusiasm with a gift for communicating compelling principles that incite lasting personal change. You can visit him on the web at www.3gaps.com.


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