How You See the World Is Influenced By Who You Are

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Is the glass half empty or half full? Our answer is supposed to define who we are and how we see the world. If you see the glass as half empty, you are said to be a pessimist, lacking in happiness, and have a particularly negative outlook on life. If you see the glass as half full, the opposite is supposed to be true. You are instead an optimist, fulfilled in happiness by gratitude for what is present in your life, and you have a uniquely positive outlook on life. At the core of the glass-and-water analogy is a critical point for life, recovery, and treatment: the glass, the water, and the amount of water in the glass does not matter. The truth of the matter is half the volume of the glass contains water. Full, or not full, and what that means, is entirely a matter of personal perception. Personal perception is defined by personality. Personality is the lens through we we perceive our universe, the optic system for knowing, learning, being, and existing.

What if we could be open-minded in our approach to the water and the glass in order to see it exactly as such- water in a glass? We might be told that we see the world differently than other people, that our personality allows us to view such trivial matters of life from a transcendent point of perception. Recently, the University of Melbourne in Australia found that the way we see the world- quite literally the way our eyes perceive what is in front of them- changes according to how open-minded we are.

Researchers evaluated the open-mindedness of over 100 participants according to personality tests. Openness was defined “as the ability to incorporate new ideas, imaginativeness, and the willingness to take part in new experiences,” Big Think explains. Then, researchers checked participants’ “binocular rivalry”, according to Big Think, to examine the difference in visual perception. Participants who were more open-minded had different vision, as determined by how they perceived red and green patches respectively projected into each eye. More closed-minded participants ferociously flipped back and forth between the two. Proven three more times by identical experiments, open-minded participants saw neither red nor green exclusively, but “a unified image, a green-red continuum,” Big Think writes. “It was almost like, the body itself came up with a creative solution to the problem of conflicting stimuli.” Researchers spoke to the publication explaining that the study indicates open-minded people let in information more flexibly than others. For men who are seeking to recover from drug and alcohol addiction, this is philosophically paramount.

“Seeing is believing” is a common argument and one rooted in epistemology. Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that is egocentric in nature. The classic example applies: a tree falling in a forest. If a tree falls in a forest and you aren’t there to see it, has it really fallen? Epistemologically, the answer is no. We have to witness something in order for it to be real, to prove that it is or is not true. Nothing exists beyond what we can see and if we cannot see it, it isn’t real. Written and read, this perception seems infantile at best. Lived, it is the common experience of most men in active addiction, especially when it comes to the belief that recovery is possible. Recovery asks us to be open-minded so that we can evolve beyond the epistemological ego. In recovery, the lifestyle of the pursuit of sobriety through personal development, we learn to believe, regardless of seeing- which might otherwise be described as this: We learn to see more ontologically. Ontology, another branch of philosophy, allows us to know, believe, and understand, that a tree falling is a natural and expected part of a forest system. Regardless of whether we see a tree fall or not, we can believe that in a world where there are trees that fall down, it is likely that at some point, a tree will fall down. These things happen because they are part of the system of life. When we are in our addiction, we are not in the system of life. We are not open-minded. As we recover and progress through treatment, pushing our philosophical perceptions and our personality to become more open-minded, we change the way we see the world. We change the way we see ourselves in the world. We change the very fabric of what constitutes our lives.

We become open-minded because we have to, as a consequence of the fact that our limited vision, that is, our limitations in our open-mindedness, have created for us a myopic world controlled by the chemical reactions of our mind and body to drugs and alcohol. We come to believe things about our life in recovery because those things become consistent with the entire system of what recovery is. We become accepting and integrative. Rather than standing alone in our self-centered epistemology we become part of a whole- whole in ourselves and part of the whole of life. The forest is a system of which we are a part. The glass and the water are a greater part of who we are. Life becomes a beautiful, integrated, continuum- one which never has to include active addiction again.


Tree House Recovery is a men’s residential treatment program in Portland, Oregon, offering men the journey of finding freedom from addiction. Creating a sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men revolutionize their life through total transformation of mind, body, and spirit. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474


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