This topic is literally life changing! It was a huge epiphany for me although I’ve always had a good grasp on this notion. I was reading up on some Neuro Linguistic Programming content and it said something interesting about every human being on this planet is doing the best they can do given their ‘map’. Ok let me elaborate. What is a map first and foremost? It’s a diagrammatic representation of the world or a part of the world which is used to guide you from one point to another.
So what you may ask? I’m going to take you on a little tour around your visual cortex to explain this abstract metaphor!
Mind Map Metaphor
For simplicity sake we will work from the roots up. Say when you are first born into this world your mind is empty, now let’s take a blank piece of canvas and superimpose it into your mind. Look from the top-view onto this blank canvas there is little or no markings of any sort, you can be right in the center at point 0 or the point of origin. As you grow you see, hear, touch, smell and taste new things, your mind being one extremely compact and efficient sponge takes everything you experience around you and starts to paint on the canvas. Every single thing you come to know is imprinted on the canvas (i.e. words, sounds, values, experiences, knowledge etc) in the form of pathways of all sizes and features of all types. Let’s go back to the analogy and transcribe it into map terms such as streets, roads, shops, towns, cities, rivers, mountains etc. As you go through life you learn more and more and this map becomes increasingly complex and larger – as you grow your map grows and matures.
Now what is the significance of this? They say no two people are exactly the same this is because we all come from different parts of the world and our experiences are wide and varied. The slightest change in experiences can make a world of difference on your map. It could create a pathway to a new city you never knew of that further transforms you and your map. Take for example of two identical twins that have lived together their whole lives from day 1. They share the same experiences, come from the same places, and have the same knowledge, memories and values. If one of the twins decides to travel the world whilst the other stays in the same place, you would expect for that adventurous twin to have grown immensely as a person. This one decision to expand and broaden horizons can be represented as a flight path away from a small town and span across the world like a web. As you can see it is clear that our maps are only limited to the paths we take, where one path can lead us to a hundred more junctions in life. Our canvas may start with a dot however with time and a willingness to expand oneself the canvas becomes an intricate masterpiece of life.
It’s All in The Mind
I should note something rather important. Try not to think of the map on a physical dimension such as the places you’ve been or things you have seen. Rather, it is infinitely more complex such as the experiences you have that expand the map, the values that have been instilled which guide which path you take, the skills and knowledge you acquire that help paint your world and the people that become part of your life that form destinations in your map. Ultimately, the map is completely up to your own interpretation. Everyone and I mean everyone has their own map that they create and use to navigate the world as we know it.
To help clarify this, when we take one single simple event such as a watching a movie we can have a thousand different points of view. Everyone watched the same movie (one event) however there were differing opinions on the movie (various points of view). Similarly, if we go to a comedy night and the comedian makes fun of a particular sub-class of people, most people would probably laugh however there might be a few that would get offended – Why is this? Because of our instilled values, our backgrounds and upbringings and attitudes that define the reality we perceive. Our map not only guides us through life, it creates the type of reality we live in, for a black and white example take the case of a single event and the reality created by an pessimist vs. an optimist – and it all comes back to the idea of your map.
I must also note that the more time and focus you place on painting/creating an area in your map (i.e. learning a new language, exploring a country, practicing a skill, spending time with particular people) the clearer and more refined your canvas will be.
Our maps are so critical to us that without it we become lost and severely disadvantaged. It would be like losing a loved one that you have grown accustomed to ‘visiting’. The map would lose a piece of itself or be crossed out on the canvas. Our maps determine where we go, how we feel, who we get along with, what we do etc It defines our reality and guides us to our ultimate desires. It is the source of understanding and misunderstanding people. That is why we get along with people with who come from similar places, have similar interests, beliefs, values and experiences. On the contrary, it is also a source of misunderstanding when people have vastly different maps from that of our own that we get lost when we try to connect to their reality. Of course, there are those who have maps that allow them to connect to different realities given an open mind and heart.
The maps we have are essentially our soul’s representation of reality, where our learned values, beliefs, knowledge, experiences etc filter the whole world around us and guides us through the wonderful journey through life.
Expanding our Maps
We should aim to constantly improve and expand our maps so that we can uncover the hidden treasures in life and understand the realities of others.
There are literally millions of ways for example, take a course on something you’ve always wanted to learn, even something that you never knew you wanted to learn. Learn a new language, go to a new country, meet new people that you normally don’t talk to, try new foods, change up your routines, read more, watch random films, quit your job and do something completely different that you love etc. The ultimate guide to expanding your map is to love life and keep an open mind!
I honestly believe that the more you know about yourself and the world around us, the easier it is to lead and live a fruitful life.
Have fun painting your masterpiece of life~