The other day at the gym I saw someone on the treadmill. I’m like I know that person from somewhere, but where? I couldn’t bring the connection together.
Ends up she works at the front desk of the gym where I’m sure I’ve seen her many times. But move her 100 feet and put her in workout clothes and she’s all of a sudden familiar but not distinct.
I’m sure this happens to all of us. Encounter someone someplace unexpected and not make a connection. Seems like a fairly normal thing.
Then I’m thinking this misconnection thing has to go beyond people and faces. Place something, anything into a different context and it’s familiar but hard to pin down. Things like ideas and behaviors.
Context. Or environment. How important is the environment in which we experience ideas and behaviors?
I think huge. How much is my reaction to an idea or a situation or event influenced by who I am and how much is influenced by the environment I am in at that moment? How free thinking am I, really?
I think we see part of that answer in things like mob mentality. But is it more subtle than that? Not sure. But is certainly ubiquitous in its application. Advertising and marketing leverage this to the hilt. I’m always hearing about how important the smell of a house is when trying to sell it.
I think about this in context of work I do. Trying to get people to change behaviors. Do you have to change the environment before you change the thinking? Yes.
So if you are struggling with new ideas change your environment. Not sure what will work. That’s OK. Start with something.
Change the lighting around you. Go somewhere different. Try a new schedule. Rearrange the furniture. Put yourself in a place where the new ideas might resonate.
You never know what alchemy might come. There are too many variables to know what might work so be liberal in your application. Some possible change might be obviously bad enough to skip, and that’s OK. Trust your intuition.
Don’t underestimate the power of context. Use it to your advantage, for you and for others.
Change your context. Change your world.
Ah context – I remember being poked in the back quite severely by someone in a crowded elevator, too crowded to even turn to see who & what was going on. When finally getting to a floor where enough people exited I was able to move a bit and prepared to confront the offender only to realize I had been bumped by someone with physical disabilities that included blindness. I experienced a drastic change in emotion and my previously planned response seemed absurd. The environment created in our own minds may be more powerful than reality, something must make it possible for us to cast aspersion on those who are struggling even more than we are. If we imagine them as less deserving (lazy, shiftless, incompetent, incapable of change) then dismissing them as peers makes sense, yes?
Great example. It would probably be good for us to put ourselves in contexts we are not used to. Much easier to empathize if you understand the perspective better. Of course empathizing does not mean condoning. Some time people are just behaving badly, but perhaps having exposure to more perspectives would help in knowing the difference.