“Friend of mine rowed across the Atlantic.” My lunch companion leaned conspiratorially across the white linen tablecloth at the National Liberal Club. “Hasn’t worked since.” And he sat back with a told-you-so look on his face.

So when I rang Damian West, I was half-expecting to find a traumatised recluse, no longer able to relate to the real world. Instead I got a very personable and cheerful-sounding individual. When I told him about my misconception he laughed.

“Yes, M likes to believe that nobody could row across the Atlantic and come back normal. I do work – I just don’t put on a suit and tie and get on a commuter train.”

It reminded me how I used to filter reality – probably still do. But I used to filter in a destructive way – I’d ignore all the good bits and focus on the negative, and it made me very unhappy. In appraisals from my bosses, I could hear only criticism, never praise, and believing that I was hopeless at my job, I duly lived down to my expectations.

Now I focus on the positive, interpreting everything in the best possible light, and the world seems a much better place. No doubt it’s exactly the same world that it was before – it’s just that my perception of it has changed.

Objective reality? Who needs it? I’ll stick to my optimistic view of life and of myself, and hope that it continues to live UP to my expectations

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *