“… reel that wild imagination back in…yeah, the mind’s a funny thing, don’t believe everything you think.” – Lee Brice
It began when I read a bumper sticker on the car in front of me at a red light, and then my curiosity chased it to a song. In the end it all came down to the lyrics, “Don’t Believe Everything You Think.” At first the words seemed preposterous, so preposterous in fact, that they deserved a second thought.
Read a story in the paper, watch a report on the nightly news, or have a conversation with someone, and you begin to form perceptions. For most people, perceptions become their reality. But accepting perceptions without questioning their validity is a dangerous way to live. It’s one-dimensional, a trap that can influence the way you treat other people, or skew the way you believe others think about you. It can also lead to defending perceptions based on half-truths, opinions, biases, or agendas. Essentially, you forfeit your free will to think as an individual.
Hey, we’re all human. Right? And I’m as guilty as the next guy. On the first night of a three-day music festival this summer, a county western singer was playing at the venue next door. When I pulled into the parking lot expecting to join my folkie singer/songwriter brethren for a tailgate party, I was confronted by pickup trucks with huge wheels, denim clad guys wearing cowboy hats, and a lunatic running around waving the American and Confederate flag on a long pole. And this was on the Camden waterfront across the river from Philadelphia. The image I saw supported my country western reality. Then I thought about those lyrics, “Don’t Believe Everything You Think,” and did a little research on the artist, country western singer/songwriter Lee Brice, a multi-instrumentalist who played football at Clemson, and thought, “Sounds like a dude I could have a beer with, maybe two.” An artist is an artist, and I shouldn’t expect someone born and raised in Texarkana to be a Foo Fighters fan the same way he shouldn’t expect to find a Lee Brice CD in the console of my Jeep.
In his book, 7 Habits, Steven Covey writes, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Look in the mirror. Question yourself. Question your assertions, your perceptions, your opinions. It can change your view of the world, and lighten your burden. And what you believe someone thinks about you may be the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, it might be the complete opposite.
Don’t believe everything you think.