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Undoing shoulds: glasses that fit you

The colored glasses that we wear, either by default

or because they are poorly prescribed,

will hold us hostage in the HOGAB

“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.”

—Anais Nin (French-American diarist, essayist, novelist, and writer of short stories and erotica, 1903–1977)


Very insightful, Anais!

Invisible glasses

The nature of colored glasses is that they are often invisible to us. Consequently, if those glasses are suboptimal or even mendacious and toxic, we remain unaware that many or most of our problems are not problems that exist in the world but problems with the glasses that we wear, which are adjustable or replaceable. 

Just as a child might need corrective glasses to see the world "more accurately" so that they can get more desired results, all of us need to double-check the glasses we are wearing to ensure they are serving us best. 

Perhaps others may notice how you are wearing glasses which distort your views in ways that disempower you, but the you will not see or acknowledge your own colored glasses. We think we see the world as it is, not as the way that our glasses interpret the world before we even get to see it.


If others share our toxic glasses, they will confirm that "we are informed and others are misinformed"

When others wear similar glasses to our own, we easily find confirmation that we see the world and others as it is and they are ("yes, I agree, he did you wrong"). The invisibility of our own glasses is a helpful feature when they are empowering and allow us to assess the facts more accurately, yet it's toxic when they're disempowering and discourage us from remaining curious and questioning about our glasses and the world.

We already talked about colored glasses earlier in this this tutorial, but, since they're so important, let's do another, deeper pass at using this life tool.

Do we ever see anything through “clear” glasses?


In a given circumstance how we see ourselves, others, and the world is filtered through colored glasses (which we wear by default). As a common example, we all know someone who colors their life circumstances so they see their cups as “half full” (or better). In contrast, we all know others who color their life circumstances so that they see their cups as “half empty” (or worse). These filters are “colored glasses.”

Byron Katie asks the question, "Who would you be without your story?" Perhaps it's possible to be in life without any stories (or glasses). My cat seems to do it okay. But, as far as I can tell, Byron Katie is not suggesting that people give up their happy, empowering stories (or glasses), just the other ones. One of the easiest ways to give up "bad" stories is to crowd them out with "good" stories (or colored glasses that make us happy and empowered).

Is life hard or difficult?


Many of us wear the colored glasses that make us think life is hard or difficult. Other default colored glasses that use us are:

  • life and people are not safe (and I need to be defensive)

  • others are unfair, things are not right

  • life is about survival

  • life is something to tolerate

  • life is boring

  • life is meaningless

  • I'm not good enough

  • I'm not smart enough

  • I need someone to protect me or rescue me.

These glasses diminish the joy and effectiveness in our lives. We can learn to wear new glasses, like the glasses of “life is adventure,” “life is connection,” or “life is curiosity.”

Two other names for "colored glasses"

I also call colored glasses "life inspirations" or "inspirations." Another pointer is "fundamental essences" or "essences."

The "best prescription" for colored glasses can be different from person to person

Personally, I wear many different colored glasses. I can switch them around to match different circumstances. But the four that I wear (often all at the same time) at almost all times are play, adventure, connection, and curiosity.

But others will be more empowered and enlivened by a different set of glasses (try to identify your top three). 

For example, I have a friend for whom the glasses of serenity, gratitude, and wisdom fit best.

Here is a list of glasses (also inspirations or essences) that could be empowering for you:

  • The glasses of gratitude

  • The glasses of play (playfulness)

  • The glasses of anticipation

  • The glasses of adventure

  • The glasses of curiosity

  • The glasses of creativity

  • The glasses of enthusiasm

  • The glasses of invention

  • The glasses of learning

  • The glasses of design

  • The glasses of magic

  • The glasses of miracle

  • The glasses of confidence

  • The glasses of connection 

  • The glasses of compassion for others

  • The glasses of self-compassion

  • The glasses of being your own best friend and fan

  • The glasses of understanding

  • The glasses of intimacy

  • The glasses of masculinity/femininity

  • The glasses of contribution

  • The glasses of resolve

  • The glasses of unstoppability

  • The glasses of being a champion for others

  • The glasses of team

  • The glasses of community

  • The glasses of humanity

  • The glasses of partnership

  • The glasses of participation

  • The glasses of reliability

  • The glasses of rigor

  • The glasses of courage

  • The glasses of challenge

  • The glasses of self-awareness

  • The glasses of inner seeking and exploring

  • The glasses of sharing

  • The glasses of authenticity

  • The glasses of gifts (everything is a gift)

  • The glasses of everything is for me (not against me)

  • The glasses of abundance

  • The glasses of everything and everyone is here just for me

  • The glasses of loving what is

  • The glasses of life is my buffet

  • The glasses of newborn eyes of awe and amazement

  • The glasses of the three-year-old boy/girl

  • The glasses of fascination

  • The glasses of innocence

  • The glasses of acceptance

  • The glasses of love

  • The glasses of presence

  • The glasses of movement

  • The glasses of sensuality

  • The glasses of serenity

  • The glasses of peace

  • The glasses of surrender

  • The glasses of listening

  • The glasses of kindness

  • The glasses of romance

  • The glasses of decisiveness

  • The glasses of connection with God

  • The glasses of connection with the universe

  • The glasses of obedience to how things are

  • The glasses of wisdom

  • The glasses of focus

  • The glasses of lightheartedness

  • The glasses of spontaneity

  • The glasses of freedom

  • The glasses of spirituality and enlightenment

  • The glasses of oneness and no separation

  • The glasses of the eternal now

  • The glasses of dancing with reality (and the universe)

  • The glasses of uniqueness and specialness

  • The glasses of enthusiasm

  • The glasses of being 100% responsible

  • The glasses of being a force in the world to be reckoned with

A few examples of glasses (life inspirations) some others are learning to wear

  • Learning, inner seeking, championing others, connection (35-year-old Chinese woman who works as an executive assistant)

  • Listening, design, artistic expression, contribution, movement, eternal (78-year-old American woman who creates and leads organizational development workshops)

  • Adventure, compassion, play, confidence, understanding (56-year-old American man who manages rental properties)

  • Adventure, creativity, discovery, invention (37-year-old American man who works as a high-level manager with Boeing)

  • Playfulness, innocence, contribution (35-year-old Chinese woman who works as a communication coach)

Be wary

Some people, in trying to identify the colored glasses that will fit them best, latch on to glasses that can end up being more of an anti-inspiration than an inspiration.


It's because they're wanting the glasses to fix something, solve some problem, make them feel that they're good enough, or to prove something.  

Examples could include:

  • The glasses of conformity

  • The glasses of being approved of

  • The glasses of making money

  • The glasses of productivity and results

  • The glasses of being famous

Colored glasses that are true inspirations can easily fit into the question, "How could I bring X to this circumstance right now?" Where X is the name of the colored glasses, like "adventure." With validly chosen colored glasses (inspirations), you don't have to wait for some result in order for it to be fulfilled.

Consider the glasses of "making money." In order to be fulfilled by wearing these glasses, you'd have to wait until to actually made more money. In contrast, if you're wearing the glass of "abundance," you would be able to bring the essence, the feeling of abundance to any situation, even some circumstance like needing to be a beggar on the street.

How to know which might be the best glasses for you

You could just experiment with different glasses. Identify a task that you do every day, perhaps one that has no juice in it. When doing that task, ask yourself the question like, "How would I feel while doing this task if I were looking through the glasses of adventure?" After answering this question with one pair of glasses, test out another pair, like enthusiasm, contribution, or challenge. 

Another way to discover the best fit for you is to remember back over your lifetime. Identify some times where it seemed that "life was perfect." You were so glad to be alive. What was happening then? What were you doing then? Now, don't focus on the content or details of that circumstance. Instead, identify the fundamental way you were seeing your life in those moments, the underlying feeling of inspiration or the essence of the moment. You may find more than one fundamental for a given occasion. When I have done this, I almost always found the elemental feelings of play, adventure, and/or curiosity.

How to create the habit of putting on your new glasses

The glasses we wear (or you could say "the glasses that wear us") are generally worn automatically. They are part of the machinery of our mind. That machinery can be changed, step by step, with gentle compassion, intention, and action. The first (and essential) step in changing that machinery (for it to learn the wear its new glasses) is to regularly remember to take action to do that. The action is to ask ourselves the question(s), "How can I bring X to this moment or this activity?" or "How would this moment/activity look and feel differently if I were looking through the glasses of X?" Where X = the glasses that you want to learn to wear. 

But this begs the question, until you've trained your machinery to remind you (when you need to be reminded), how are you going to remember to begin to think of asking yourself those questions regularly (or as you need them)? You can do that simply and reliably with kickstarting a mental habit. Check it out and set it up now.

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