A friend recommended an interesting TrueTube clip that I thought I would share. It is an excerpt from an address to a graduating class by David Foster Wallace titled ‘This is Water‘.
The message of ‘This is Water’ is that the most obvious realities are the hardest to see and talk about. There are parts of our lives that we do everyday that are routine and tedious. We don’t see or talk about these realities, such as grocery shopping and travelling to and from work; they are a part of our unconscious default setting.
The point is that we choose what we pay attention to. Our natural default setting is to pay attention to our own needs and desires, often only paying attention to the barriers and frustrations that may get in our way when we are conducting our tedious tasks.
‘This is Water’ highlights that we do have the power to view our situations in different ways, that we can think outside of ourselves and consider the perspectives of others. It takes will and effort, it isn’t easy and sometimes you don’t want to do it or simply can’t do it.
An important component of cultural Intelligence is the ability to pay attention to our behaviours, beliefs and attitudes and consider alternative perspectives. It is about recognizing when we do revert back to our default setting and making changes to our attitudes and behaviours.
Learning how to think and what requires our attention is within our power. We can change our ways of thinking. We have the freedom to decide what is meaningful and what isn’t and we have the freedom to change our attitudes and behaviours in different cultural settings and interactions.