Now you see me….or do you?

How do you see me? I mean really see me? It’s a rhetorical question, I don’t want you to actually tell me, but I imagine you see and experience me differently to the person standing next to you. Or a person on another continent. Or a dog for that matter. 
I posted something on Facebook earlier which has prompted this blog entry. It was an article which showed you a spectrum of colours and asked you how many colours you can see. It stated that depending on your eyes, you could see anything from 20 to 39 different colours. You can see the full article and test yourself here

Isn’t that mad? That some people can experience 19 more colours than somebody else? I am almost jealous that I can only see 24 and that I’m missing out on an array of colours because of the cones in my eyes! I feel robbed! Damn you, narrowly visioned cones!
Perception fascinates me. How we take for granted our own perception of things and how someone else can see something or someone in a completely different way to someone else.
Psychologists tell us that almost 90% of what we see is lost by the time it reaches the brain. Therefore, the brain has to make the best guess based on past experiences or prior knowledge. 90%?! So literally our eyes are deceiving us? That kinda blows my mind a bit. Everything we see and experience is biased, depending on what we’ve experienced in the past. Our brain is just guessing most of the time. I kinda feel that as much as humans are incredible, we’re being a bit short changed there. I was never any good at those magic eye pictures, it didn’t matter how much I stared at the damn thing, it’d just make my brain hurt. Where’s wally on the other hand, nailed it.

It’s not just sight though. All of the others senses are experienced vastly differently from person to person. Smell, hearing, touch, taste. For example I enjoy the smell of vanilla. Most of the air freshners and candles in my house contain vanilla, I enjoy the sweet, delicate fragrance and it puts me at ease. Other people I suppose may find it too sickly and overpowering. 
I hate seafood. The smell, texture, taste. Most of the time I don’t even think it looks appetising. I was brought up in England but in a Portuguese dominated household. My mum, my brother, my gran all LOVE seafood. I hate it. I can handle plain fish, cod, haddock, tuna, salmon (cooked, not that raw stuff). That’s about my limit. Why is that? Having been brought up in that environment which celebrated these dishes (I also lived by the sea) why am I so repulsed by it? It baffles me, but as hard as I try, I cannot bring myself to eat it.
Scientists tell us that mood also affects how we perceive and experience things. But also surely what we perceive and experience will directly affect our mood? Well which one is it? Are we more in control of our lives that we like to believe? When someone has a particularly bad day, is that because of the mood they were in at the beginning of the day affected how they felt, or that what happened in that day had a negative impact on their mood? Or both? Have I lost you yet?! Haha. Sorry, I am fascinated by the brain and how it does what it does everyday. Hands up if you’re a geek like me. If not, you’ve probably stopped reading and are back to scrolling your Facebook feed. It’s ok, I don’t blame you. I’m no scientist!

But on a lighter note, I think we do have more control over our experiences than we think we do. The old saying, life is what you make of it, I think, is pretty accurate. If you are a negative person, then you will focus on the negative experiences you have, and the positive ones will pass you by. Sure, I understand that horrible things happen to people all the time, I don’t expect that if your whole family is wiped out by a tragic car accident that you can just smile about it and the pain goes away. But there are ways around things. Ways to look at things differently. I try and be a positive person everyday. The horror and tragedy that goes on in the world doesn’t just wash over me, I don’t ignore it, I just try to not let it get to me. It is hard sometimes, I am by far perfect and everyone has bad days, me included. But I try and keep those to a minimum. Have a cry, do some shouting and then a glass of wine. Works for me!

I am not religious, but I have remembered a quote that has been floating around the Internet in various forms for sometime and I think it is apt: 

“Accept the things you cannot change, have courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Now I’m off to look at that colour chart again….dammit I want to know what those missing colours are!

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