Try This One Little Thing to See the World As It Really Is

Jeff Valdivia
4 min readFeb 22, 2020

Bonus: it’s fun, too.

Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

An obvious, yet mind-bending, fact about life is that we only know what we know.

What don’t you know? What are you wrong about? What are you on the verge of understanding?

Have you ever had an epiphany, when the puzzle pieces of life seemed to snap together and, briefly, it all made sense? Doesn’t this tell you there’s more than we realize?

We’re all struggling to understand, and we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Life is mysterious, and unfortunately, we don’t get to peek inside anyone else’s head to see what’s going on in there.

What if Bob knows something we don’t? What if Mary is happier than we are? What if our status quo is hurting us, rather than helping us?

Well, we only know what we know. It all comes back to this one simple fact. So, what can we do about it?

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine forwarded a blog post from a website called Raptitude. In it, the author describes a simple exercise any of us can do at any time to break ourselves out of our normal way of thinking and to see the world a little more clearly. As soon as I read it I was inspired to try it. Lo and behold it did shift my perspective.

It’s incredibly simple. Obvious, almost. Yet, not something I would ever have thought to try.

The experiment

The next time you’re alone in a coffee shop or walking through the mall, pretend that you’re not there.

Wait, what?

That’s right. Pretend you’re a ghost and you’re walking through the world but aren’t a part of it. When someone looks at you, pretend that they’re looking through you, like something behind you caught their eye.

But, don’t stare. I mean, you’re not actually a ghost. Don’t be creepy.

Observe your surroundings. What do you see? Advertisements, goods for sale, doors, windows, trees. Now that you’re a ghost, what do these things mean to you?

Observe the people around you. What are they doing? What are they preoccupied with? Are they laughing? Are they engaged in serious conversation? Are they…

Jeff Valdivia

Following my curiosity and hoping it will lead me to wisdom. I write about psychology, meditation, self-development, and spirituality.