We view the world through lenses.

Some are easy to identify — being brought up in a nationalistic country will impact how you view things related to your mother-nation, as well as those related to your country’s enemies — while others are trickier to lock down.

While the obvious lenses we wear function like glasses, out in front of our faces for the world to see, and requiring frequent adjustment from us, the more subtle ones are like contact lenses: essentially a part of our bodies, and too close and comfortable for us to even notice them most of the time. They’re also invisible.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have them. Every opinion we hold is the result of factual information being filtered through a lens. Every preference in food, art, music, hobbies, stems from how we perceive the world through these lenses.

And there’s noting wrong with this, because it’s how we, as humans, operate. We filter the world to figure out what’s important and what’s not based on data we have from past experience, cultural or national influence, parental impact, knowledge gleaned from books or TV or the internet, and myriad other sources so diverse it would be impossible to identify every single one with accuracy.

Seeing the world through lenses is normal, but it can also be less than ideal if we’re not aware it’s happening.

If you don’t know about your lenses, it’s easy to misunderstand a friend who likes a different genre of music than you. You might interpret their love of blues as ignorance or stupidity or lack of taste, rather than a genuine interest in the music world, equal to your own, but seen through a different lens.

It’s easy to be confused by a significant other’s lack of interest in your hobbies, when your hobbies are so clearly amazing. Of course, through your lenses such things are fascinating to no end while to someone else they may lack luster.

By this logic, one person’s opinion is incomparable to another’s. Apples to oranges. To say your taste in music is better than someone else’s is a fallacy, because unless you both see the world through exactly the same lenses, your metrics are incompatible.

This also means the best thing you can do for yourself is expand your horizons by increasing the quality of your lenses. Experience new things. See things from other points of view, through other lenses. The more you do this, the more you’ll reshape your own, allowing yourself to see more detail in the world and with greater clarity.

The first step, though, is recognizing that you have lenses, that we all do, and to figure out where yours come from. What shape they take.

It’s one of the better investments of time we can make, stepping back and figuring out what warps our view of the world and how we can better interact with others, knowing their lenses have also been shaped, just by different variables.

Update: April 12, 2017

This is such a difficult concept to explain to people who believe, wholeheartedly, that their favorite genre of music is the only true, good, noble genre of music. And they might agree with it for every other thing, be it religion or politics, but it will be some mundane interest in which they believe themselves to be highly educated and with impeccable taste that keeps them from accepting it universally.