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Can we trust our first impressions?

It can be interesting, instructive, and fun, too, to keep an eye on our thoughts once in a while. Sometimes the antics of my mind make me laugh, they really do. They have no relationship to reality at all.

For example, I was sitting in one of my favorite chairs at the coffee shop this week, a foot perched comfortably on another chair, when I noticed an elderly gentleman sitting by himself at an outdoor table in front of the coffee shop.

Iā€™d guess he was about my own age, perhaps a couple of years older.

“Poor man. He looks a bit lost and lonely,” I thought, noticing how he kept gazing with a troubled look on his face at the nearby parking lot. “Perhaps he’s having a difficult time in life.”

Mostly, I like to read, or do a bit of meditating when I’m at the coffee shop. But I also enjoy keeping an eye on the passing scene as I sip my latte.

So after a few minutes reading my book I took another look at the lonely old man sitting at a table outside the window.

Suddenly a younger woman walked towards him. I watched as the man stood up with a beam of pleasure on his face and welcomed her to his table.

Perhaps the woman was his daughter. How do I know? But it quickly became very apparent that they were having a very nice time together and that the man wasn’t really “old” at all.

He was delighted with life. His joy and sense of humor was palpable. He radiated cheerfulness. To be honest, I would have liked to be out there chatting with him myself.

As it was, I had to content myself with thinking how odd and wildly inaccurate our first thoughts and impressions can sometimes be.

I could not have been more wrong in my initial assessment of this man.

And I realized again ā€“ a lesson that never seems to grow old ā€“ that there is only one way to live a truly happy and creative life. It is to remember the stillness and strength and humility of our true nature and see our world with eyes of love.

As another Easter rolls around, and spring, in my part of the world, works its magic, I send best wishes and love to you. If you have any thoughts on the above, please share.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Maureen Moeller April 19, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Christopher you are an endless source of wisdom and mindful introspection. Until we acknowledg and release those wildly inaccurate (love your descriptor) first impressions and often most of our myriad thoughts, we are bound to suffer. Just today I allowed those first impressions to hijack this gorgeous spring Saturday. I decided I could choose love and healing instead. I hold a small journal in my bag now, so writing out my choices helps me to focus on choosing joy over sorrow. Today is a gorgeous gift from Spirit; our days are limited. Choose love. And love and joy to you dear friend.

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Christopher Foster April 20, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Thank you for sharing these beautiful thoughts Maureen. What a terrific idea to carry a small journal with you so that you are free to write a few things down when you feel the need or the urge. I have believed for a long time that writing things down at times helps us make things “more real.” I am so happy that you had a good day on Saturday, and that you chose to share your happy experience with us and with me.

You are a fellow wayfarer on this journey we call life and I am immensely thankful that this is so. Love and joy back to you.

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Marisa April 19, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Christopher,
I love this post! I can remember the first time I saw just your picture, and telling myself this is a man that will teach me a lot about life, and introspection!
I don’t find myself usually making “first impressions” as much as seeming to pick up on other things, and the wonder of our vast similarities, and differences, in every person….and every living creature for that matter.
Thank you is never enough when responding to your posts. You are a true spiritual guide.
Sending love and positive energy.

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Christopher Foster April 20, 2014 at 5:59 pm

You share a beautiful truth Marisa. In all honesty, a “first impression” in the way that I described it is a judgment, isn’t it. In the example I used, a notion popped into my mind, or maybe it popped up out of my mind, that was absurd. It was quite absurd. I feel you describe very well how it is possible — and natural, actually — to simply be open to life, perceiving and experiencing whatever it is that life has to offer in that moment. Blessings to you and I’m with you in the way.

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Trefor April 19, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Hi Chris
Yes this mind or whatever it is that presents it’s thoughts can be very misleading at times as we observe the world about us, especially when people watching. First impressions can be far from what is “real”.Never judge a book by its cover or go on first impression is indeed good advice.
Your comment reminds me that how everyone else views my outer presentation is not
always how I really am within and the challenge for me is to be present to exactly what I am thinking , feeling and projecting outwardly , especially in public.Cos you never know who’s watching and painting a different picture of the one you’re really in.
Go easy on the chocolate my friend.
Namaste
Peace be with you
Trefor

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Christopher Foster April 20, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Trefor, many thanks for sharing. You write in a very pithy and straightforward way. Yep. We can’t be held responsible for the way other people choose to see us. That’s their business. But we can look in our own heart and be at pains to be genuine and also thoughtful in our own expression and in the way we choose to see other people and circumstances — and willing to acknowledge it if something comes thru us that is “off color.”

Thanks for the warning about the chocolate and peace be with you too.

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Ragib April 20, 2014 at 5:34 am

It was very honest and modest thought and the nature of really touched my heart.I wish I can think like the way you do as you are one heck of a person.
Ragib recently posted..Mi.Mu: Gloves to compose music with gestures

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Christopher Foster April 20, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Bless you Ragib and thank you for your kind words. It’s a pleasure to be in touch with you in this way and I send greetings and best wishes to you.

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Rick April 20, 2014 at 7:11 am

Although I have had similar experiences, being totally sure I had a basic idea of someone and then find out I was mistaken, I also know we have so very many voices that I think we may possibly see one voice expressing thr0ugh a person, and in the next moment some other voice is expressing through him/her.
I welcome any comments.

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Christopher Foster April 20, 2014 at 6:38 pm

You make a very good point Rick. It takes both time and patience to see the reality or core essence of another person — and of ourselves too of course. I think this must be why friendship, real friendship, takes time to emerge. It takes time to really get to know another person. It takes time to recognize more fully their true qualities.

In that regard, I’m happy for the chance to be getting to know you a bit better. Many thanks for your comment, it’s always very good to hear from you. I’m with you in this extraordinary adventure.

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Debbie April 20, 2014 at 7:29 pm

I have read all your posts with the utmost pleasure – how very wise you are. I am rapidly approaching my 50 birthday and often wonder how other people see me. All I know is that am grateful for all I have. Friends say to me all the time – how does it feel to be fifty – what is fifty supposed to feel like !! All I know is that I feel as young as I did ten years ago – although sometimes my body dosnt agree with me. I hope I can continue to be as positive about aging as you are :). Keep being positive – I love it :).

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James Frost April 21, 2014 at 10:31 pm

I think we can as for me the first impressions work the best than taking moments and planning and that’s the way I take this.
James Frost recently posted..Do you think Google Ara Project have a future in current market ?

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Tasha April 26, 2014 at 11:08 am

Thanks Mr Foster for sharing. from it i learn that our first impressions sometimes reflects our own disillusions about situations. it appears that most often what we first observe and take note of in a situation is really a translation of what our ego or believe system translate from it and not really the actual truth about the thing being observed.
could it be that the poor lonely old folk was a product of your imagination much more than who he really is?
Thanks for sharing such a thought provoking article. With love and gratitude, Tasha

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Christopher Foster May 16, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Thank you for your kind comment Manju. It’s a real pleasure to hear from you. I’m sorry for the delay in my response. Love and blessings to you.

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