Tag Archive | Perception

The Art of Perception 9

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Perception is not what you see. Perception is how you interpret what you see.

I like to think of Perception as an Art, and a Practice.”

“How do you practice Perception?”

“Perception has two components: Attention, and Meaning.

For instance, in any situation, you can direct attention to what’s within your control or to what’s outside your control. This is an ancient Stoic practice called the dichotomy of control. I call all conceptual tools that direct attention, lenses [<link; short read]. We might think of this particular tool as the lens of control.”

“So Perception is about artfully directing attention.”


I call the skill of optimally directing attention, selective focus.

As concerns meaning, I like to think of it using a metaphoric model which I call foreground/background. The foreground draws meaning from the background. 

To change the meaning of something, you can change its foreground – its mental representation – and/or you can change its background.”

“Can you give an example?”

“For instance, you can think of any experience as a Gift (foreground). In changing its representation, you’re imbuing it with meaning. 

You can think of an activity as a Ritual (foreground), and of Ritual as a gateway into the universe of The Sacred (background).

Or you can think of an activity on the backdrop of your Master’s Journey (background).

I call the skill of artfully changing the meaning of something, reality painting.

Carpe Diem 2

Live beautiful.

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I keep failing to live up to my blueprint of the masterpiece day.”

“Viewed as a percent, how close are you to your masterpiece day on average?”

“Around 90%.”

“Then your problem is one of perception, not execution. 

You’re focusing on what didn’t go well instead of what did.

You’re focusing on the outcome – with a tinge of perfectionism – instead of on the process.

The goal is not having a perfect day; the goal is responding beautifully. Making the day beautiful regardless of how it went.”

On Seeing

Genius is only a superior power of seeing. (John Ruskin)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is seeing?”


In seeing, you’re essentially recognizing Patterns.”

“What is the essence of pattern-recognition?”


In recognizing patterns, you’re essentially directing the Attention.”

“What is the essence of attention-directing?”


To see something, to direct your attention towards it, you must have a concept of it. 

Concepts are reality filters.

Concepts trace the boundaries of your (subjective) reality.”

“Does this mean your reality is as large as your conceptual library?”


Concepts allow you to see the Invisible [<link; short read].

In creating concepts, you can see what others can’t. 

In creating concepts you’re creating reality.”

Ideas create reality

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What do you mean?”

Ideas shape perception.

Ideas influence what you see.

They activate the pattern-recognition system and filter what you perceive in the world.

Ideas influence how you interpret what you see.

Everything people do is justified in their own eyes.

Ideas justify and influence behavior.

They make you do things in the world which you otherwise wouldn’t.”

Trap Concepts

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is failure?”

“A disempowering interpretation.

Let’s say you do something and do not succeed. There are various ways you can interpret it:

Neutral: I got a different outcome. (Concept: Result)
Positive: I got some useful information. (Concept: Feedback)
Negative: I didn’t succeed. (Concept: Failure)

The failure concept is useless. It encodes in language the act of directing attention to what you didn’t get instead of what you did.

The problem with concepts is that they create their own reality. If you evaluate yourself using it, you’re in a bind due to the very nature of the concept. I call this kind of concepts, trap concepts.”

Reality Painting 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is Reality Painting?”

“As a Life-Artist, you’re painting with Meaning.

You’re painting your inner world, through beautifying interpretations and representations. I call this practice, the Art of Perception.

You’re painting the outer world, through turning things in the environment into reminders for your Values. I call this practice, the Art of Anchoring.”

The Art of Perception 8

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

It’s all interpretation.

“What do you mean?”

“We do not respond to events but to our interpretation of events. 

All events are neutral. They’re like a canvas upon which we project our interpretations. 

All events can have multiple interpretations. Yet we have a tendency to settle for the first interpretation that comes to mind.

In an important sense, the Art of Living is the Art of Perception.”

“What do you mean by the Art of Perception?”

“I mean the practice of taking control of – and taking responsibility for – our interpretations.

Some interpretations are explicit, most are implicit. Many we don’t even know we have.

The practice has three main aspects:
– Making implicit interpretations explicit, revealing them for examination. 
– Beautifying interpretations, discovering the most beautiful interpretation in any situation.
– Rewriting our dysfunctional implicit interpretations and replacing them with beautiful ones.

The Art of Perception 7

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“It took me TWO HOURS to send a little package at the post-office.”

“It doesn’t matter what happened. The only thing that matters is how you respond to it.

What is the antifragile response?

In an important sense, the Art of Living is the Art of Perception. You’re upset only because of your interpretation of it. And your interpretation is largely a matter of what you choose to focus on.

How can you beautify this interpretation?

Design interpretation, then design behavior.

How could you have beautified that time?

Two models of creativity

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is creativity?”

“To quote Steve Jobs,

Creativity is just connecting things.

I call this the Connections model of creativity.

Creativity is Connecting.

I must say, I love this model. I love it so much that I have the word ‘Connections’ tattooed on my right forearm.”

“I like to pair it with another model.

I call it the Patterns model of creativity.

Creativity is Patterning.

By Pattering I mean two things: 


As concerns pattern-recognition, there’s a quote that’s been stuck on my mind for a very long time:

Genius is only a superior power of seeing. (John Ruskin)

In a flash of insight, I realized that Ruskin’s ‘superior power of seeing‘ is pattern-recognition. The creative genius looks at the same things everyone else looks and consistently sees something different. It’s like he lives in a different reality.”

“Maybe genius is often a polymath because different disciplines give you different ways of seeing reality.

Take Parkour for instance. Once you’ve been practicing for a while, you develop what practitioners call ‘Parkour Vision‘, and from that moment on, the environment is never the same.

By extension, many disciplines (if not all) develop their own kind of similar ‘Vision’. Viewed as a template [<link; medium read], I call it ‘X Vision‘:

– Design Vision
– Poetry Vision
– Photography Vision
– Humor Vision
– Systems Vision

“Interesting idea.

As concern pattern-restructuring, it has two components:


Pattern-restructuring is essentially Lateral Thinking. Breaking internal patterns (eg habit-breaking) or external patterns (eg rules-breaking), and creating new patterns that have value.

The two models are complementary. We might call them synergistic models – a combo, to use Magic the Gathering terminology.”

The Antifragility Game

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I practice Antifragility?”

See it as a game.

In essence, it’s a game of Perception. You’re playing with Attention and Meaning.

For instance, let’s say a specific situation triggers frustration. Like when a web-page takes too long to load. 

What’s the antifragile response?

You might ask yourself:

How can I beautify this moment?

You might choose to focus on – direct your Attention to – Gratitude. You can bring to mind all the silent gifts you tend to take for granted: your computer, with all its peripherals, the Internet, the chair you’re sitting on, the table you’re sitting at, etc.

You might choose to focus on Time. That small time-window is a beautiful opportunity for a micro-meditation. You can take a few mindful breaths, smile, connect with yourself, and relax.

By accessing some internal resources – Gratitude, Meditation – you’ve taken the situation and turned it on its head.”

“What if in the same situation I’m in an unresourceful state? That makes it harder to access my internal resources.

To quote Tim Ferris:

In a lowered emotional state, we only see problems, not solutions.

“In that case, changing your state becomes the absolute priority.

The best way to change your state quickly is by doing something intensely physical. Like a sprint, or a few burpees… or climbing a tree.

The Movement Game is an essential aspect of the Antifragility Game.

“What if I’m somewhere in public?”

“Even better. You get to practice indifference to other people’s opinions as well – or what I like to call, social deconditioning.”