TED Conversations

Vera Nova

Director Research Analysis, NOVA Town Futuristic Development


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"How seriously does our ability to imagine others in our minds impact our understanding of others in real life?"

We have natural internal abilities to act as a few personalities within our minds. This intuitive acting ability helps us understand others, as well as situations where others are involved.

The more closely we manage to play other characters in our mind the greater we may understand others.
I believe that eventually each of us develops one dominating/leading character, therefore, we identify this character as our own Self. The rest of imaginable characters commonly play only "supportive" roles on the stage of one's personal reality.

When we need to improve ourselves, we are able to find/create not only a new role to play in mind but also to find the way to express in our new actions.

We begin to imitate our parents, cats and dogs, aircrafts and trains in our very early childhood. As adults we laugh at this kind of early stage of acting, but our minds keep acting to the rest of our life. Without internal acting our minds cannot produce any thought.

This amazing instinctive talent, I think, may be developed if we could have learned to explore this talent more consciously in thinking, researching and communicating.

JONAS SALK has described how he conducted his important research by behaving himself as living cells.
He also said:

The art of science is as important as so-called technical science. You need both. It's this combination that must be recognized and acknowledged and valued. ..You can have a team of unconventional thinkers, as well as conventional thinkers. If you don't have the support of others you cannot achieve anything altogether on your own. It's like a cry in the wilderness. In each instance there were others who could see the same thing, and there were others who could not. It's an obvious difference we see in those who you might say have a bird's eye view, and those who have a worm's eye view. I've come to realize that we all have a different mind set, we all see things differently...


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  • Jan 17 2014: Seems to me that how we "imagine others" is totally dependent on how we are ourselves.

    Having to deal with the public, I learned that my days were a lot less stressful if I could imagine that whatever anyone did was likely based on a good reason.

    It is based on our perspective how we see others.
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      Jan 17 2014: I think we are missing the most important education in all schools - we need to learn that no one can see "things" and other people objectively, but one may "know" only his/her own experience. The only way for us to see others is to try to be in their shoes in our minds. When we grow up we shall learn that our own feelings and opinions may be different from other people feelings and opinions. It is the law of our nature.

      Well, if we want to become more peaceful, a little wiser, we need to change our Golden rule - and say: do NOT do anything to anyone until that person asks you or agrees to get your help. The reason: this person might be hurt by your help, because if something is good for you - might be dangerous for others.

      I think, our nature's granted uniqueness is not truly valued in our society, so we are treated by our manmade systems, as well as we often treat each other, as identical units.
      • Jan 18 2014: --"..until that person asks you or agrees to get your help"--

        You know what Vera? That's exactly the reason why Jesus asked everyone, before healing them, if they wanted to be healed.

        Anyway I totally agree with you. It is alright to keep the door open for the next person, but anything more involved, ask.

        Without having done one step in someoneelses shoes, indeed, we don't really know what we're talking about. Out attitude needs training, we need to learn our limits. We can see someone do something but cannot have any clue why they do it, unless we can read their mind.
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          Jan 18 2014: I made a mistake in this important sentence - I meant to say

          "the reason: this person might be hurt by your help, because if something is good for you - might be dangerous for others.

          Really apologize !
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          Jan 18 2014: What a delight to talk to you, Adriaan :) I'll try a new conversation regarding changing our old Golden Rule which throughout history provokes endless misunderstandings, dictatorship, fights and war… I do too believe that our ethics need to be changed, and drastically. The Golden Rule is all about ethics anyway.
      • Jan 18 2014: Thank you very much Vera!

        Yeah the Golden Rule can also be applied a selfish way.

        I'm very nice to others, if they are at least as nice to me, and think the way I think!!

        In fact, they may even call that 'unconditional love' LOL
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        Jan 21 2014: Good point Vera!
        One may think/feel sometimes, that what s/he is trying to give is a gift, when in fact, it is not. As you insightfully point out.....what is good for one person, is not necessarily good for everyone.

        Perhaps your "LOL" suggests that you are telling a joke Adriaan?

        You say you are nice to others when they "think the way I think!". That is conditional. Unconditional love is without conditions.

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