In episode 80 of How To Matter, I discuss a little quirk of human nature. When experiencing new people, new situations, new circumstances, we focus first on the new, the different, the unusual. The problem is that we also tend to get stuck on those aspects and fail to incorporate the known, the expected, the familiar. The result is that we can remain with a particular prejudice, a limited and perhaps incorrect sense of the situation or person. In the podcast, I suggest focusing first on the familiar. This lets us gain a more accurate perspective, a more humanized sense of other people. The article below serves as the handout for the discussion.
“Wherever we go, across the Pacific or Atlantic, we meet, not similarity so much as ‘the bizarre’. Things astonish us, when we travel, that surprise nobody else.” — Miriam Beard
Whether venturing out to cross an ocean or merely considering what’s already at hand, you are frequently astonished. You see the different, the bizarre, the unusual, the pieces that don’t quite fit. You also see the similarities and common aspects. Many people tend to see most events and situations as new or unique. You attend to what you haven’t seen before, what you don’t understand, those elements that are atypical or unusual. However, you first see the extent to which each event or circumstance fits into a familiar pattern, into the context of prior experience. Whether the fit is slight or more pronounced, the points of congruence with available knowledge and information are your initial reference for thought, perception, and intuition. You move on from there but first use the connection between the past and present to prime the pump, so to speak.