Hello and Welcome,

Great to have you here to once again to share in some ideas of what is reality for you.  I know from personal experience that my perception, or should I say lack of perception has landed me in hot water so many times I have lost count. Living in China with its different cultures and having a Chinese girlfriend has added to my desire to open my eyes and see that my perception is an ever-evolving process in which I delight.

Thinking I was right about something and expressing my opinion without having all the information has led me to have to apologise over and over again. Jumping to conclusions is a trait we all have, but it doesn’t have to be, awareness of our reaction to things, people and situations is a process that over time can be altered and left behind.

Before we move on I would like to once again define perception…

  1. The way in which something is regarded, understood or interpreted.
  2. A belief or opinion often held by many people and based on how things seem.

I might also add that these perceptions are accumulated out of our memory of past experiences and/or our imagination of future events based on our past experiences.

The photo below is an excellent example of our different perceptions!


A drawing of a lady in which different perceptions show a young lady and also an old lady in this one black and white drawing.

Having viewed the photo above, depending on your own personal perception, you will have seen a young woman, or you will have seen an older woman. People have argued till their black and blue that there is only a young woman, and on the other team, they argue there is only an old woman. Both are right, after some time you will have seen both. I offer you now the same photo in colour which may help in seeing them both.

Same drawing showing the old lady and the young lady but this time in colour


Let’s have a look at some other examples of perception to highlight just how easy it is to be blind to things that are happening all around us. I know you will be able to relate to every simple story of our lack of the truth. Please take a step back and understand we are all lacking in knowing the full story. Have a laugh at yourself!


Buskers cap with coins in it.


It was in Washington DC, at a metro station on a cold January morning in 2007, as I watched and listened a man with a violin who played six different BACH pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately 2000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped and watched for a few seconds, then hurried on to meet his schedule.

Peak Hour People At Washington Train Station..Busy Busy Busy!

About 4 minutes later…

The violinist collected his first dollar. A woman threw money in his hat and without stopping, continued on her way.

At 6 minutes…

A young man leaned up against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and off he went.

At 10 minutes…

A 3-year-old boy stopped to watch but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to once again look at the violinist, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several children, but every parent without exception forced their children to keep moving.

At 45 minutes…

The musician played continuously. Only 6 other people bothered to stop and listen for a short while. Another 20 gave money, but not one of them stopped as they all continued to walk off at their normal pace.

After 60 minutes…

He finished playing and silence took over. He began to pack up his things. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all!

Surprise Surprise…A Beautiful Violin Being Played

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest, most celebrated musicians in the world. He had just played some of the most intricate pieces of music ever written, with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days prior, Joshua Bell sold out a theatre in Boston, where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music

This is a true story! Joshua Bell, playing incognito in DC metro station was organised by the Washington Post Newspaper as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and peoples priorities.

The Experiment Raised Several Questions…

In a commonplace environment at an appropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognise talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this…

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…

How Many Other Things Of Importance And Beauty Are We Missing As We Rush Through Life?

Take Some Time To Stop And Smell The Flowers


Three lovely looking brown cookies

A woman was waiting at an airport one night, with several long hours before her flight.

She hunted for a book in the airport shop, bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book but happened to see, that the man sitting beside her as bold as can be,

grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between, which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.A man eating cookies

So she munched the cookies and watched the clock as the gutsy cookie thief diminished the lot.

She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by, thinking if I wasn’t so nice I’d blacken his eye.

With each cookie, she took he took one too when only one was left she wondered what he would do.

With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half and she ate the other she then snatched it from him and thought ‘oh brother.’

This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude, why he didn’t even show any gratitude.

She had never known when she had been so galled, sighing with relief when her flight was called.Woman covering her face in shame

She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.

She boarded the plane and sank in her seat, then she sought her book which was almost complete.

As she reached in her baggage she gasped with surprise, there was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes.

If mine are here she moaned in despair, the others were his and he tried to share.

Too late to apologise, she realised with grief, that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief!


The Black Spots

Photo of a beautiful green eye, with the quote, 'If you cahnge the way you look at things the things you look at change"

One day a professor entered his classroom and asked his students to prepare for a surprise test. They all waited anxiously at their desks for the exam to begin. The professor handed out the exams, with the text facing down as usual. Once he had handed them all out he asked the students to turn the papers over.

To everyone’s surprise, there were no questions, just a black dot in the centre of the paper. The professor seeing the expression on everyone faces told them the following. I want you to write about what you see there, the students got confused and then got started on the inexplicable task.Paul 'The Professor" in China Guangzhou with my Chinese students.

At the end of the class, the professor took all of the exam papers and started reading each one of them out loud in front of the students. All of them with no exception defined the black dot. trying to explain it’s position in the centre of the sheet.  After all of them had been read, the classroom was silent as the professor started to explain.

I’m not going to grade you on this, I just wanted to give you something to think about. Not one wrote about the white part of the page, everyone focused on the black dot. and the same thing happens in our lives.

However, we insist on focusing only on the black spots, the health issues that bother us, the lack of money, the complicated relationship with a family member,  the disappointment with a friend.

These dark spots are very small when compared to everything we have in our lives, but they are the ones that pollute our minds. Take your eyes away from the black dots in your lives, and enjoy each one of your blessings, each moment that life gives you, be happy and live a life filled with love.


Changing The World

Butterfly on a flower with the quote "Be the change you wish to see in the world"

When I was a young man I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town, and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

Now as an old man, I realised the only thing I can change was myself. Suddenly I realised that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family, my family and I could have made an impact on our town, their impact could have changed a nation, and I could have indeed changed the world!

Well, there we have it, hope you enjoyed this article on perception as much as I have enjoyed researching it. If you would like to delve a little deeper into perceptions please go here

I sincerely welcome any comments, thoughts, opinions or experiences you would like to share. Please just leave them in the comment box below.Photo of Me Hanging out in mainland China

Warmest Regards



  1. Wow Paul, you packed some good examples in this post.

    So often we walk around and talk about things with a pre-existing bias that does not allow us to appreciate what is right before us or view things they way they really are.

    Sadly, I can relate to some of these examples. Too often I have found myself arguing on the wrong side of reason. Thankfully I am not an old man yet and I am learning to take a step back before making definitive statements, but it is a hard thing to learn.

    1. Hey Mitchguy,

      Great to hear from you and I appreciate your honesty. So glad you like the examples they are simple but eye opening and we can all relate to different situation we experience. These days I am doing my best to have minimal opinions about anything or at least keep them to myself, it is a great freedom to let others share theirs and have an interest in the way others perceive things.

      I love your attitude when you mention it’s not to late to change, I think that is a very healthy perception and just by being aware and not having to be right is the way to go.Choose peace over being right and I’m sure you will live a much healthier and happy life.

      My very best wishes to you my friend


  2. You have provided some great insights into perception. To me perception is very individual. Each person has their own view or perception of everything.

    The stories you presented are very valid ideas on perception and important lessons for us all to learn. You are very wise.

    When do we know if our perception is the correct one?  What if it isn’t? How can we really know?

    Can one’s perception be correct even if it is wrong?

    I really enjoyed your article and I would like to share it with my friends on Facebook if that is ok?

    1. Hi Curtis. 

      I really appreciate your comment and you ask some interesting questions. Perception is a very personal thing, simply because we have had many and mixed experiences which have shaped our perceptions.Sort of like DNA everyones perception is truly unique.

      I feel that perception is like success it is a journey not a destination, we need to forever be seeking to sharpen those perceptions with awareness that things are not always as they seem to listen and have compassion. To seek first to listen and understand and to then be understood.

      You are more than welcome to share this article, it is my privilege that you would consider it worthy.

      Cheer Curtis, pleas feel welcome to visit anytime

      Best wishes


  3. I can definitely relate to voicing my opinion without knowing the facts. Thankfully, I’ve had some loving friends point my stupidity out to me. It’s caused me to double check facts before repeating them. It’s made a big difference in the information I share.

    That’s an amazing story about the violin playing. I love experiments like that.

    I’ve heard that cookie story before, except with donuts. It’s a good eye opener. 

    Great stories! They really do show how our perception can affect our outlook and actions. It’s a powerful message.

    1. Hello Nicole,

      So glad you enjoyed this article on perceptions. I think we have all had the experience of having to take our foot out of our mouth and in hindsight feeling a little silly for making judgement’s prior to having a knowing of the facts.It’s uncomfortable and can even be embarrassing to say the least.

      However if we can learn from this and take a step back without jumping to conclusions, we can make the changes necessary to improve not only our relationships with others but also ourselves.

      All the very best Nicole


  4. I truly enjoyed your writing – probably because it mirrors some of my thoughts about enjoying the common beauty and majesty all around us.

    The violin play is a case in point.  There was great beauty for free in a public area and yet few people even noticed.  It is all about perception as you state.

    I am a physician and have always been amazed at the beauty of the common cell in our body, or of a bacteria – the complexity of each that is only now understood.  

    As an amateur astronomer, the beauty of space is astounding – and very humbling – yet out of sight (perception) until very recently in human existence.

    I noticed a spider in my bathroom the other night; on close inspection, it is an amazing creature put together with such precision, able to make webs of amazing complexity.  And yet, most would crush such a creature without a second thought.

    We tend to focus on the dark things in life – the dot on the white paper, while ignoring all the beauty, complexity, and astounding feats of common nature all around us – just like the commuters in the train station.

    Life would be much richer is we could “stop and smell the roses” in life.

    Thanks for your insights – you are really on to something!


    1. Hi Dave,

      So lovely to read your comment. It’s easy to see from reading your response that you have a true understanding of what life can be like and your story about the spider is one I can really relate to. The business of life is thrust upon us in our attempt to find peace and happiness now by the accumulation of material things, when the best things in life are free. Whether we know it or not we always have a choice.

      You also mention your relationship with space as an amatuer astronomer. I can truly relate to it’s humbling nature as I realise in awe the vastness of infinity as I look to the heavens. You have some wonderful stuff going on mate and I congratulate you for the place you are at right now.

      Bless you Dave


  5. Hi Paul,

    Originating from England, Having a Philippine wife and living in Thailand, I completely understand how you feel regarding cultural differences.

    Growing up in England, I never considered that there was any other way than our mighty Empire! We must be right!

    However after traveling the world and mixing cultures, I discovered that I was the student of life and that there are many different ways of looking at things.

    Perspective is totally different in other parts of the world.

    The way I see the world has totally changed.

    What a blessing that is!

    I love the stories in your post.

    Very touching and great wise words indeed.

    I have also ‘enjoyed’ those sessions that lead us to saying sorry.

    I really enjoyed the read.

    By the way your photos are amazing!


    1. Hi Tim,

      So interesting reading your comment. I smiled at some of your comments as I related so closely to you when you said, ‘We must be right.’ That attitude is rampant with just about expat living in an Asian country. I think that arrogance is built in and expands to any country where English is not the first language.

      I have developed the attitude that everyone regardless of age creed colour sex is my teacher and try to learn instead of judge, and keep my opinions to myself as I realise I am forever a student on this journey called life

      We truly have much to learn from other cultures and can use this learning to forever sharpen our perception.

      Thanks Tim we have so much in common and I wish us both the very best in all our endeavours

      Cheers mate



  6. Hi Paul! I must say thank you for your excellent selection of stories related to perception. I have enjoyed this post very much and it indeed is worth sharing.

    Perception is a very interesting and fascinating subject. And you have introduced the topic in a very warm way.

    A couple of years ago a boss of mine had referred the story of the Washington Post Newspaper’s social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. He didn’t mention the violinist name and I never had found out who he was. Joshua Bell is a great Grammy award-winning violinist. The Washington post posted the video of the experiment and a feature-length documentary on YouTube. It’s called Find Your Way: A Busker’s Documentary.

    1. Hi there Henry,

      Great to have you here today and thanks for your kind words. So glad you enjoyed the stories and hopefully you were able to relate to them and take in the fascinating ways that our perceptions are at work. I did watch a short video on youtube and will make sure I have a look at the documentary Find your way.

       I find it so interesting that it was the children, so innocent in their perceptions, not having been too influenced by life that they were the ones that sensed the greatness of the music, while their parents priorities were to get where they were going without the slightest inkling of what was going on.

      All the very best Henry

      Warmest Regards


  7. I absolutely loved this article on perception, and it really made me think!  There are so many times in our lives when something doesn’t work the way we want it to or we don’t get something that we want, and we focus on that thing.  Like the test paper with a dot on it, we only see that one thing and forget to think about everything else around it.  I will think about all the points you made in this article and see where I can improve my perceptions!

    1. Hi Janelle,

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. You obviously enjoyed this post, the stories here are quite profound and make you stop and think as you mentioned. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have been proven wrong by jumping to conclusion and having been wrong because of a false perception.

      We all need to open our eyes and be aware and stay clear of presumptions without knowing or being ignorant of the facts.

      I congratulate you here Janelle for making some time to improve your perceptions may we all follow your lead

      Cheers mate thanks again


  8. This is a very good piece of writing and I have to confess that I really enjoyed reading every single part of it. One of the things that I really liked is the way you have explained the concept of perception and you also used very awesome examples to back your point. That’s very sweet. I think everyone has their own different perception or thoughts on different issues but the thing is sometimes it can be wrong but is there a way to know this?

    1. Hi Henderson,

      It gives me great pleasure to know you enjoyed this post on perceptions. It’s really interesting to reflect on the fact that we can be so out of touch with what is really going on in our world. To humble ourselves with the knowing that we really don’t know much about anything is a sure escape from putting our foot in our mouths.

  9. Excellent thought provoking article, thanks so much! I can absolutely see the whole cookie scene playing out in my own life – that is exactly something that would happen in my world haha! 

    The story about Joshua Bell playing his violin in the middle of a metro station intrigued me and also made me think too. I like to think of myself as someone who really does stop to appreciate the beauty of life and the little things however, in that situation I may have been in a hurry like so many others given the time and place. We all have our tasks that need attending to but we should indeed stop to appreciate even the smallest moments of beauty, no matter how much of a hurry we think we are in. Thank you for sharing these stories, much appreciated!

    1. Hi there Shan,

      Love your comment and the cookie thief is the one that really hits home for all of us. We all have to constantly take a step back and have a good look at ourselves and come to grips with our need to be right and judge what things that are of no real importance.

      Our thoughts are constantly shaping our perception of things and our mind needs to be guarded on a 24 hour basis for those thoughts that don’t serve our better selves

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *