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How do you see the world?

Our Wellicious Fan Clemens Frede from Germany was so kind to provide us with this interesting blog topic.

The other day I found myself in a situation, where a teacher was reviewing students. It was one of those situations where you know you're being tested and already tense up because of all the eyes fixed on you and you know what's coming. And sure enough at the end of the presentation there was feedback. What struck me, was that the teacher said, because of time restrictions she was skipping right to the 'important' part - yes, you've guessed it - the part that's about the "room for improvement". That part of the feedback, that everyone despises. We do our best to take it in stride, with a smile and a nod. In spite of all best intentions our teacher puts salt into our wound and while we hear the criticism. Ultimately what sticks is the thought that we're just not good enough. The mood plummets and the day is shot to shit.

There's nothing wrong with "room for improvement" feedback. However, if that is the only feedback you receive it's just devastating and cruel rather than uplifting. The entire focus is on things you are doing wrong. You end up feeling small and worthless and humiliated. What's missing is the encouraging part. The part where you are being motivated, because you've done something right. Like the parent, who is cheering the toddler on, because it has set one foot in front of the other. They're not shaking their head, saying - "Oh my, no, no, no. You need to lift your knees higher and roll from the heel to the toe." What they say is "Yes! Take one more step! And one more! Awesome!" That is what we want to hear. And guess what - the toddler will smile back at you and eventually walk. With kids we are not judgmental and we see their effort and potential. That's why we love kids. With kids we try not to be negative. Unconsciously kids make us see beauty. This is how we should try to see life.

It's what Anusara Yoga taught me – I remember distinctly the yoga workshop I was in: A few students were demonstrating cobra pose and we were then asked to say what we saw. Of course everyone jumped on it, pointing out all the things that were 'wrong' or needed to be fixed. It felt terrible. So the teacher pointed out to us, that we were only seeing the supposedly bad things. In Anusara Yoga we want to see the good things first. So he asked us to point out what the students in cobra pose had done beautifully. Let me tell you, it was not so easy. Not because there wasn't anything beautiful to see, but because we had forgotten how to see it. We had become accustomed to taking the good things for granted and not realizing them anymore, even when they're right in front of us. We brush it away as 'not important'. We fall into the trap of taking it as a given. Yet, it is critically important.
The entire atmosphere changed instantly as soon as we pointed out the beauty, effort and gorgeousness in the poses. Not only for the people doing the poses, but also for us 'judges'. It's what we all want to hear and it also feels good to say it. It's what motivates and nourishes us. This feedback is just as important as the "room for improvement"- feedback.

In mathematics there's a differentiation between positive and negative feedback. Positive feedback accelerates or increases a specific aspect of a system. Negative feedback reduces or inhibits the presence of an aspect in a system. In mathematics and when we give feedback to others both kinds of feedback are equally important. For the one receiving and for the one giving the feedback.

If there is too much of one kind of feedback the system becomes instable. Anyone who will only see the positive will become delusional. A student who received only positive feedback may become arrogant. If you see only the negative - it's just depressing. A student who only receives negative feedback will eventually give up. In the end feedback needs to be balanced and the way we are wired as humans balanced sometimes means a little more positive than negative.

So don't be mean. To yourself and others. It's surely not a waste of time. See the positive and point it out. Encourage others and never assume they know about their magic. Often they don't and even if they do know - we all love to hear it from others every now and then. Don't focus on the bad things, start with what's great. Find a nourishing healthy balance. Don't fool yourself, pretending life is the never-ending party, but see all of it. The beauty, the strength, the grace, the sweetness… Just like the ugliness, the filth, the crooked. See the world with your mind and with your heart. Every negative remark will make your view a little darker. Every compliment will brighten your heart. Relearn to see: The good and the ugly make this wonderful world together.

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