I'll be in flow - part 1: How experiences influence our perception

A little attention exercise for everyday life (4 min)

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I like to experiment. For example, cooking. I'll find a recipe. Go for it. Wash it. Cut. Pan. At some point during cooking I start to deviate from the recipe, replace ingredients and add new spices and herbs. In the end, the recipe serves me merely as a kind of inspiration and so the result is often a little surprise - usually a positive one, but not always. Why is this so? Let's take a closer look at this little story.

Our perception is based on past experience

"I'll find a recipe." On the basis of my experiences I develop a feeling whether this or that dish could taste good to me. The assessment whether the dish tastes good is a purely subjective perception and can of course be evaluated differently by others. Because one's own perception and its interpretation is based on experiences from the past. These are different for every person. If new experiences are added, the perception changes. So the one or other recipe that I noted down years ago tastes different to me today. But new recipes have found their way into my cookbook. So not only the cookbook changes because of my experiences, but also my brain. In the end, I choose a recipe that I am very likely to like and will succeed. 

Focus. Understand. Apply.

But how do I learn and develop new ideas? Everything starts with focusing attention on a specific topic or situation. Let's stick to the example of cooking. The concentration on the process of cooking activates our brain. In the next step we try to understand the topic. Why don't I pour the oil into the pan right away? Why does the taste change when I fry onions? The third step is to try and practice. In New German also known as do-it-yourself. This allows me to fall back on what I have learned and anchor it in the neural structures of the brain. The more often I call up and use the information, the more my brain cells network. Once the information is anchored and the concept of learning is understood, I start processing. "At some point during the cooking process, I deviate from the recipe, replace ingredients..." So I can bring in other experiences, use them creatively and develop new recipes on the side. How can I train or sharpen these steps for other situations and integrate them into my day?

Pay attention to seemingly small things in everyday life and face new experiences

Achtsamkeitstraining, Qigong, Taiji, Yoga, Mediation fördern den Umgang mit Erfahrungen. Dies kann durch verschiedene Übungen unterstützt werden. Dabei sollte unser Interesse auf den nützlichen und positiven Erfahrungen liegen. Atmung, Berührung und postive Gefühle fördern zudem einen Zustand entspannter Offenheit und Empfänglichkeit für neue Erfahrungen. Dies hilft, um sich gezielt neuen Erfahrungen zu stellen. 

Exercise: attention - duration: 1 min - repetition: 5-10 times /day

  1. We direct our attention to a positive experience of today.
  2. We keep our attention on this experience for 20 seconds. We use 2-3 breaths for this.
  3. We make the experience 30 seconds stronger and perceive different aspects of the experience. What do I feel and perceive? What was new and unknown to me? What is interesting for me about this experience?
  4. We're tracing it. 

"In the end, the recipe is nothing more than a starting point and the result is a little surprise - usually a positive one... " Too bad I never write down the new creations. Maybe the one or other recipe would have been really good. Well, then someone else is making it up.

Photos by Katie Smith and Alexander van Steenberge on Unsplash

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