by Steve Walsh 2/22/19
A few years ago there was a country song called “Billy’s got his Beer Goggles On”. The premise was that after Billy had a few beers the world began to look differently to him. The girls got prettier and were even nice to him. Suddenly he was a great dancer and an even better singer. Of course after he got home and slept it off the world returned to its less pretty, less nice self.
While we don’t all go around wearing beer goggles we do have our own set of “life goggles”. Our life goggles determine how we see the world. While are life goggles may be pretty well established in our early, formative years, they continue to change their focus throughout our lives based on our daily experiences. Many times these changes are so subtle we aren’t consciously aware of them.
Simple things like a store clerk’s smile or a neighbor’s friendly greeting as they walk their dog can make a cloudy day seem a little brighter. Conversely if the neighbor’s dog craps in your driveway and he doesn’t clean it up, your day might get a little grayer. Usually these little events have a temporary effect on how we see the world. However if you neighbor’s dog craps in your driveway every day for a month it will surely have a lasting impact on how you see your neighbor.
There are other times when the events shaping our view of the world are dramatic and have a significant, lasting impact. Some are very public like for instance the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Others may be very private such as receiving a life altering diagnosis in the privacy of a doctor’s office.
All of this is to say that for many (most?) of us our perception of the world and our place in it is constantly changing. Sometimes the changes are drastic and sudden while other times the changes are subtle and gradual. It is important to be aware that these changes are not only impacting us but everyone around us as well.
There are times and places in our lives when we are acutely aware of our impact on other’s view of the world. Parents for example are acutely aware (or should be) of how their behavior – words and actions – affect their children. The same for teachers and students and for most of us in the workplace. There are other times, maybe in long lines in stores or traffic when we may not be as aware or concerned with how we are impacting others and the view of the world.
So what does all of this mean? How does it help us understand each other? I’m not sure but being aware that everyone has their own set of life goggles is a start.