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To function ideally in our world it is necessary to relate to the real world as it is and not as we would wish it to be. That must begin with habitually seeing the world accurately, responding properly and promptly. The problem is that we have lived in a complex world ever since our early days in the womb. Experiments have shown that babies that have specific music played to them, while they are still in the womb, without ever hearing them again until they are a year old, show a clear interest in those specific tunes.

That research demonstrates that reality impinges upon us long before we have enough wisdom to thoughtfully respond to it, and thus to cultivate our habitual responses rationally. Our infancy is dominated by our genes and maternal environment. If our early learning is compatible with our natural genetic inclinations, and our mothers are able to provide safe but dynamic environments, then we can grow to become highly functioning children.

As we become children and are able to physically communicate with other children and to interact with them verbally about our basic needs, it is still important to seek to see our reality clearly. To learn to know who we can trust, and whom to be suspicious of. To learn what we can do and what we can not do.

With adolescence, new problems with our reality arise as our friends, school and community try to shape us into conforming to their view. We are compelled by those others to conform to social standards, but by this age, we have enough self-awareness to decide what aspects of the greater society we wish to associate with and pursue. For the first time, we have the personal experience to intentionally choose where we wish to place ourselves in the world community, that is, outside of our local community. That search and choice offers us the opportunity to look at the greater reality and either filter it through our personal biases learned in childhood, or attempt to see reality shorn of those earlier experiences and training. This new reality search might include going beyond formal schooling and seeking greater realities totally outside of conventional experience.

When we are adults we are required to be productive, and to sustain ourselves, our family, and our community. Our responsibilities go beyond our personal needs, and to function well in this more inclusive environment requires a new look at reality and in a broader way. It requires a new kind of clarity of perception based on more expanded goals. These new goals foster and demand facing the new realities of our group’s needs. We must yield some of our personal choices for the greater value to us of satisfying our group’s needs.

With maturity, our personal needs, and even our families’ needs, must to some degree yield to the needs of the community and the world. That requires yet another adjustment to look at our new reality squarely and seek a clear perception of what it is and what needs to be done so the whole world will function better for others as well as for ourselves and our friends.

Each of our stages of life needs an adjustment to see our new reality clearly.