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Today’s world wraps itself in sensationalism which distorts reality. Headlines read of an approaching apocalypse when the story inside is merely an anomaly of rainstorms. We have taken this use of sensationalism to garner attention into our day-to-day lives. Words are used to grab attention but may not truly explain the situation. One might say “I hate this” when in fact, they are simply irritated by it. Continued misuse of words can affect how we interact, perceive and find solutions. If something is simply an irritant, the solution is far different than something of hatred.

The same can be true when using absolutes in language. There are very few situations where absolutes truly describe a situation or person.

The theme I have assigned to my team for 2020 is Mindfulness & Communication. I have based this theme off a Buddhist principle which states “Delusion misunderstands the world and forgets who we are. Delusion gives rise to all unhealthy states. Free yourself from delusion and see with wisdom. The three levels of delusion are inattention, denial and misperception of reality.” The key level here is misperception of reality for the theme of mindfulness and communication.

When you enter into an interaction with a misperception of reality, you can be in a state of delusion and misunderstand the world. The Buddhist Principle referenced previously, explains our misperception of reality may come from believing things bring joy, the belief in permanence or not finding or focusing on the actual issue. Things can elicit momentary happiness but not lasting joy; our interaction with others is best served if coming from an internal state of knowing things gained do not bring joy. Permanence is also a misperception which tends to create delusion in ourselves. Life is not permanent; we age, industries change or come and go entirely, relationships move in and out being. When we understand permanence is a delusion, we are free to think more openly and listen to the open thinking of others.

Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics, reveals how we have two selves – “experiencing selves” and “remembering selves”. The two selves go through the same event yet the actual experience and the remembrance can be very different. The “remembering self” usually looks back and values the overall experience from the last part of the event. For instance, you have a terrific day at work but just as you are packing up to leave, a colleague comes in to tell you of a huge mistake. We often see the day then as a bad day. Knowing our experiencing selves and remembering selves are not always aligned, we can see how our communication and interactions with others can be tainted.

In Alison Ledgerwood’s TED Talk “Getting Stuck in the Negatives,” she demonstrates how wording statistics differently changes perspective. We can say 30% of jobs were saved or 70% of jobs were lost. The same statistic can lead to very different outcomes for those listening to the information from a positive or negative perspective. Here again, words matter.

With that in mind, think how differently your interactions with colleagues, customers, friends, spouse or family might be different if you choose your words more carefully. If the person you spoke with knew something was simply a bother rather than an emergency or the worst thing to happen to you, would the conversation go a different route? What would happen then if you truly did have an emergency or a tragedy? If we face reality knowing joy comes from inside and permanence is illusion, are we wiser and freer to make decisions?

This freedom is possible, if in your interactions, you say what you mean and mean what you say, while also believing the other party is doing the same. In that instance, you would be freeing yourself from delusion and seeing the situation with the wisdom which so often only comes in hindsight.

What themes are you applying in 2020? Email me at klamphere@midamericamortgage.com.

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