Subjective Choice

Each week, I make a point to revisit each of the topics from the broad based field in positive psychology, pluck one subject from the treasure trove of terms I’ve asked students to memorize, that researchers pour over, or practitioners turn into a niche business model, and the possibilities are endless. What each topic is not ?….. completely true for every culture. Cultural awareness is always part of what we write for an international audience.

Except, I’ve only ever been to all of my own country, and three other countries as a visitor. So then, how can I possibly know all of the nuances, values, cultural norms of every country, every country, or every county for that matter? I can’t. And, neither can anyone else. Well traveled or not.

From one’s own lens

When writers write, they are doing so from their own lens, their own view of the world. This is also true from a researcher perspective. When a senior researcher picks a topic, they are doing so from their own theoretical background, their worldview and their area of expertise.

That is why, all of life, is in fact, subjective.

Everyone has their own unique skillset. Tapping into those abilities or qualification is a choice. Doing so from someone else’s experiences or perspective is only sort of possible. Living the experience helps. Walking a mile (metaphorically or literally) is helpful. Moving beyond quantitative data toward looking at each individual strengthens our understanding.

We are humans more than statistical probabilities after all. Understanding both is vital.

We can estimate, predict, normalize a great deal about what makes life worth living. We can delve rather deeply into a good life, a meaningful life, and even a purposeful life. We can explore our character strengths and virtues. We can change our worldview based on how we live and how we want to live. We can adapt our faulty thinking by standing just a little bit closer to someone else’s reality. We can even trade places and experience first hand, what it is to BE in the world outside of learning about the world from a book.

All of it, is still subjective.

We can celebrate the fact that we are entirely human, entirely unique and understand that though we can share similar experiences, there is not one other human being that is exactly like us.

The green I can see as I look out my back window is a different shade of gray, green and even blue to someone else. So too, is our view of the world at large.

While one person says, “go away, I won’t help you. I have my own problems”; another says, “come here. I will help you. Your problems are my problems. We share humanity.”

Everyone has a reason for thinking, doing, and being the way they are. The way we make sense of our world, is we actively search for common ground.

Knowing that I know enough to never be able to know everything is true of each one of us, no matter what.

But then, this entire post is subjective unto itself.

About the author: Karen E.M. Henry is a transitions life coach, writer and speaker. She specializes in working with people who want to create positive changes and savor who they want to be. Her full bio can be found at:!about-karen-e-m-henry-ma/c11k


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