We are driven to prove ourselves right

I woke just after sunrise last week, excited to hike to the top of Observation Point in Zion National Park. It was the first hike of a multi-leg tour of National Parks that I had planned to close out the year. Ending the year on a high note. Outside where I am at my best.

Driving along Hwy 9, an hour from the park, fresh cup of coffee in hand, a sign on the side of the road shocked my boyfriend and me. Construction. Expect 3 hour delays.

Immediately, one sign created two different perspectives.

I suggested that the sign might be outdated. He debunked the possibility that an electronic sign could be outdated.

Our paths diverged further.

I looked to Google maps for my evidence, noting that it listed the total drive time we had expected, without delays. He noted that Google maps aren’t always accurate.

I pointed to the signs along the side of the road requesting that people turn off their cars while waiting. We were buzzing past them. I was sure that sometimes there were delays, but not today. He saw the large gap between the road and the curb, convinced that road work was happening today.

I claimed, without any facts to back me, that fewer people visited Zion in the winter and there would undeniably be less traffic. He was sure that rule went out the window over a holiday week.

We both wanted to be right. And so we collected evidence to defend our perspective. The facts were the same, but we chose what to focus on to solidify our defense. We clung to some things and let other things go. Selectively.

This is the power of our perspectives. Once we create a perspective, we want to be right. Our minds select everything that creates our experience to be right. We convince ourselves that we are seeing things clearly.

Our perspectives shape our experience.

My perspective — the sign is outdated — created an easeful and hopeful experience. I was giddy with anticipation.

His perspective — the sign meant our day was ruined — created an experience full of anger, anxiety, and frustration.

In the end, we were both right (kind of). There was construction and there were delays. Google had taken those facts into account. The additional drive time was nominal.

This is not a story about being right or wrong. This is a call to be conscious of your perspective. It is coloring your experience.

What is your current perspective? 

Is it giving you the experience you desire? If not, chose a different perspective.