Perception is a funny thing.  Everyone has one and in some situations, it can help you but in others, look out!  Perception is unique to each individual and most of us are all too happy to share our perception or opinions any time we are asked and sometimes even when we’re not.

As I get older I find that I am more opinionated about more things. I have had time to reinforce my own perception of the world and everything in it. It doesn’t matter whether my perceptions are right or wrong, they’re mine.

Today, there are so many more avenues for all of us to share our opinions and as such, I feel that it makes us take stances on things we would never have given a second thought to ten years ago. We all have our own opinions, but what makes our opinion correct, and how can we open our minds to changing it when we might be wrong?

This is a complicated issue and we probably aren’t going to solve all the world’s problems in this one post, but I do think your perception about the world and your place in it has a lot to do with your overall health as a person.  The way we view things in our lives can affect us positively or negatively.

Here are some ways to cultivate a healthier perspective:

Understanding why you have the perspective you have:  This can be a huge advantage when articulating your views to another person.  It gives the other party an understanding of why and how you reached your conclusion. It also allows you to admit that you might not have a complete picture of reality given your history.  For example, I grew up in a family where my parents were incredibly supportive of anything and everything I wanted to do and have sacrificed for me to do the things that I thought were important.  This was a huge advantage when I was growing up and it is a huge advantage today.

The negative side to this upbringing is that I feel everyone should support me in everything I do whenever I think it is important.  This perception is not reality, but because of my past, you can see why I believe what I believe.

Making an effort to understand all viewpoints: This broadens your world, especially when it comes to understanding any and all perspectives that may be the opposite of your own.  Not only will it be good for you, but it will also help you make friends.  Seeking this point out will give you a huge advantage in life.  When you do this correctly, with a humble spirit, you get to know others perspectives as well as make more friends EVEN if you walk away with an unchanged opinion.  Ask good questions; ask how people got to where they are. A good book that helped me wrap my head around this idea is called, Tactics by Greg Koukl. He does an amazing job of helping people carry out this exact strategy.

Surround yourself with a community that you respect and trust: This is probably one of the hardest for people to adopt because, in order to do this well, it will take time! But my perception is that there is nothing more powerful than a group of people that you know, like, and trust who have the ability to speak truth into your life. When you surround yourself with others, they are bound to be some that hold different perspectives on life and if you respect them, you will be more comfortable hearing them out.

Know that you are probably wrong in some way: When you have an attitude like this going into a conversation, it puts you in the right posture to be the most effective, and then if you end up seeing that you wrong about something, it is easy to pivot. I think my perspectives are most impacted when people come to me with an attitude of humility vs. an attitude of confrontation.

We all have our reasons for believing the things we believe and it is important to be strong in your convictions but it is also important to be able to articulate them in a manner that isn’t off-putting to others. It isn’t bad to stand firm in your perspective, but by adopting the 4 strategies above you have a better shot at changing others’ perceptions and quite possibly making a friend in the process.