Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thinking Skills and Perspective - Assumptions

There is a common way of thinking that can generate a lot of problems for ourselves. Have we ever said after looking around at our acquaintances, casual friends, work group, or at any social gathering; Boy, they have got their stuff together?

We look at other people and assume they don't have the same kinds of problems that we have. That somehow, they have mastered the art of living well and we haven't by a long shot.

The difficulty with this kind of perspective is that we start to assume that I alone suffer and it is a misconception on our part about the basic human condition. From Buddha Net - The First Noble Truth we can read an excerpt that covers it well.

Suffering or dukkha is the common bond we all share. Everybody everywhere suffers. Human beings suffered in the past, in ancient India; they suffer in modern Britain; and in the future, human beings will also suffer. What do we have in common with Queen Elizabeth? - we suffer. With a tramp in Charing Cross, what do we have in common? - suffering. It includes all levels from the most privileged human beings to the most desperate and underprivileged ones, and all ranges in between. Everybody everywhere suffers. It is a bond we have with each other, something we all understand.

When we narrow our perspective and exclude others from that viewpoint then we can far too easily assume it is a problem with us alone. Somehow we have not measured up. Keeping this thought in our minds can lead to a life narrowing obsession based on a false assumption.

We need to challenge our thinking when we start thinking like this and ask questions to determine why we think like this and does it have any basis in reality.

If it does; then, we have a call to take action. If not; then it is time to remind ourselves that we all suffer in different ways. After all, we are all human.

 

10 conversations:

Jules said...

This is a great reminder! I find myself "assuming" from time to time, and when I can shake that feeling, all in the world is better. Great post!

Peter Haslam said...

Yeah need to do the same from time to time Jules

Jimi said...

Great post, Peter.

I learned this mostly when forced to go to AA for being bad. Talking to the members there you realize how much in common most everyone is. We have our differences, but many of the human patterns are the same. These folks, like myself were all addictive personalities so everything anyone said hit home.

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you jimi for your comments

S. Camille Crawford said...

So true Peter, and the comment from jimi has reminded me of another thing... One of the blogs I have in my 'Sites I like' is called On Happiness. It's basically the writings of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. When I read their stuff, I find no great difference between them and myself.

Peter Haslam said...

Thanks for your addition Camille

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

i love this post peter. thanks...

smiles, bee

Peter Haslam said...

You're welcome Bee I needed the reminder myself

Cynthia Blue said...

Very good post, and gives us some good food for thought.

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you cynthia