A Closer Look at How We Perceive Our World

A Closer Look at How We Perceive Our World

Whenever people find out I'm writing a book called Phenomenal, they invariably ask the obvious question:

"What's it about?"

If you've been reading this blog from the start, you'll know that I haven't been very explicit about that just yet. Sure, there's the blurb, or what's written on the pre-sales page, but none of that goes very far into specifics.

So they usually conclude that this is a self-help book. Which it isn't.

Today being my birthday, I figured now's as good a time as any to look at what the core of the book is about.


Phenomenal is not a self-help book. Phenomenal is a book about human beings — where we are, where we've come from, and where we're heading. Phenomenal is a book about the change we're undergoing, right this very moment. I'm not going to reveal all the specifics. I can't. For me to present the idea to you requires that I present the complete idea — and it's detailed and complex enough that I need a whole book to do it. In fact, the problem here is that I can't just say three sentences and give you the essence of it. I don't want to be elusive — I just want to make sure I present the whole idea. The closest I can come to three sentences is to say "You are phenomenal. Live accordingly." But even that doesn't even mean much until you see the whole picture. So for now, I'll say this:

Humanity is — right now — undergoing a massive transformation.

Not in the mystical, spiritual, self-helpy way. But in a practical, objective, scientifically demonstrable way. And the future is going to look nothing like the past.


Throughout history, human beings have lived pretty simple lives. We're born, we mill about for 80-odd years (give or take half a century), and then we're gone.

It's difficult to express just how profoundly affecting that is.

Think about this. The way you see the world is the way you see the world. Our perception of our world colors everything we do. It shapes our entire existence. In the previous article, I wrote that the whole world exists for you and your epic life. You perceive the world through your own eyes, and that world moves and adjusts and responds to your influence. But let's take that a step further. Throughout history, humanity has always perceived the world through those same two eyes. Humankind has always seen humankind through the eyes of our limited experience.

We experience our whole universe from our own narrow perspective here on Earth.

Everything we do, everything we imagine, everything we dream... starts, ends, and is 100% shaped by the limitations of that perspective. Even the way we imagine our universe. Even the way we imagine the future.


We live on a mystery planet. Everything we can see in the universe is black and cold and empty and barren. And yet here we are on this vibrant blue planet teeming with life and sunshine and clean, fresh air. We have evolved over millions of years into stunningly adaptable self-aware creatures who can think and feel and guide ourselves through our own lives. For over 30,000 years, human beings have been born, lived lives of 80-odd years (give or take half a century), and then died into a flicker of dust. And our cultures and artwork and dreams and ambitions have been sparked, informed and dictated by the color and shape of that experience.

We perceive life through the eyes of history.

We perceive ourselves through the eyes of all that has come before. And as we move forward into the future, we do so entirely guided by what we know of the past. And what do we know? We "know":
  • we need to get a job
  • we need to find a partner and have babies
  • we need to make a million dollars
  • we need to travel
  • we need to socialize
  • we need to make a stable nest for our later years
  • we need to pay taxes
  • we need to vote
  • we need to get a tune-up for our cars
Why do we "know" these things? Because that's what history has shown us. That's what the wisdom of the past has given us during this 80-odd year stretch (give or take half a century) of the vast expanse of infinite time. We see our present and our future through the eyes of a perspective that's drawn from an incredibly narrow window of time. But when we change our scale and perspective, we see something entirely different.


The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. That's pretty old.

But it's also a little misleading.

See, 4.5 billion years ago, the Earth looked nothing like it looks today. It was mostly space debris — chemicals and elements — floating around in the vacuum. Gradually (over millions of years — and stop and think about that one for minute) gravity pulled it together into a swirling sphere. Eventually other large swirling spheres smashed into it, increasing its mass. Over time, billions of rocks and debris and larger clumps congealed and formed something that looked more like the Moon. Or Venus. A barren rocky wasteland with no air, no water, and a lot of heat. And the oxygen? Even that has not stayed consistent.

The oxygen on our planet has come and gone over the years.

Did you know that scientists now believe dinosaurs were as big as they were because the oxygen levels on Earth were much higher back then? At one point, eruptions from within the center of the Earth (imagine super-massive volcanoes) rained down so much molten rock, that the entire oceans were evaporated, killing off all living creatures. As the temperatures gradually cooled over the course of a couple years, the evaporated water eventually poured back down as torrential rains, filling up the oceans again. Humans weren't around yet. But imagine if we had lived through that time.

We would think differently today.

Our perception of the world would be shaped by the real possibility of cataclysmic events.


Our perception today has been shaped by the (rather silly) notion that things don't change very much. We have storms, and we can see the potential problems climate change might wreak.

But we don't see cataclysmic change.

That's because we still see ourselves through the eyes of the past — through 80-odd-year life spans (give or take half a century) filled with school, work, vacations, hobbies, and "security in retirement". And there's nothing wrong with that. Since as far back as recorded history goes (about 30,000 years, if you count simple cave drawings), we've had no major cataclysmic events.

We've lived the same basic life – birth, education, work, procreation, old age, death — for as long as humanity can remember.

It should come as no surprise that we perceive the world the way we do. But today is different. We're going through an exponential rate of change — I read somewhere that one daily printing of the New York Times has more information in it than a person in the 18th century would encounter in their entire lifetime.

The rapid rate of change is pushing us into a new paradigm.

The way we perceive the world, and our own place within it, is changing.


For whatever reason, I'm fascinated by these things. If you look at my past, my career path doesn't seem to indicate that I might be interested in writing a book about this stuff. But I've thought long and hard about it. I love it. I'm fascinated by it. And as I've thought about it, I've come to discover something.

I've come see how several of the disparate pieces snap together.

I've been asked "What qualifies you to write this book?" And the answer is simple: I see the picture very clearly, and I have an ability to communicate ideas clearly. If you're the first person to see a new picture fully-formed, why shouldn't you write the book? Phenomenal is not a self-help book.

Phenomenal is a new paradigm for understanding who we are, and where we're heading.

I don't believe in hocus-pocus. I'm not a New Age-y guy. I'm an optimist — but not for any reason other than this: When you snap the pieces together, and the full picture of who we are and where we're heading comes into focus, it's impossible not to be an optimist. Consider how new we are. Consider that we are barely beyond cavemen right now. And against the backdrop of infinite time, we have only just witnessed the moment of our birth.


If we looked at that 4.5 billion years of Earth's evolution in a time-lapse video, with one year of real time equaling one second of time-lapse, it would take 144 years to watch the video. Think about that.

144 years of watching the mountains slowly grow out of the sea and move around the oceans.

Can you imagine watching a video for 144 years? Really think about how long and how slow that would be. But then a curious thing happens right at the very end:
  • Human beings only show up in the last 8 hours of the time-lapse video.
  • The Egyptian Pyramids only get built an hour before the end of the clip.
  • The Wright Brothers figure out how to fly a minute and a half before it's done.
  • The internet is only on the video for a little longer than 15 seconds! just before the video stops.
And this is after we've been watching for 144 years! If you really stop and imagine all this... it's mind-boggling. And yet...

We imagine that the way things are today is how they will always be.

They won't. Not even close.


In fact, some of our most basic, fundamental ideas about ourselves, our lives, and our way of life, are about to undergo major evolutionary transformation. Against the backdrop of infinite space and time, it's like we've snapped our fingers, and in the flicker of a moment, we have radically arrived on the scene. We have gone from single-cell organism to unthinking mammal to conscious being to the first waking moments of technological self-transformation... ...in the blink of an eye.

And where we go from here is so far beyond our current imagination, it's as if we're currently still living in the primordial soup.

This evolution is a good thing. No. It's a phenomenal thing.


Phenomenal is a book about the future. Your future. My future. Our future.

In it, I'm presenting a view of the world.

That view is based on fact, on science, on logic, on observable reality, and on extrapolating ideas to their likely conclusions. I've lived a somewhat unconventional life which has helped me piece together ideas in a way that would not have been possible if I'd stayed in my hometown and pursued my passion in the traditional way. I may sound like a self-help evangelist when I say things like "you are phenomenal", or when I talk about living your dreams or your ambitions, or being true to the spark within you. But these ideas are all inextricably linked — from a logic and science perspective — to the 4.5 billion year evolution of our Earth, and the 14 billion year age of the known universe, and even to some of the more advanced scientific concepts like quantum mechanics, string theory, and future technologies like nanotechnology.

The book will present in a solid, cogent argument, that everything comes back to you.

And to me. And to us, together. Believe me when I say:

You are phenomenal.

I can't wait to share with you the whole picture. For now, I ask only that you trust me.

I promise it will all make sense. The ideas are complete. The picture is clear. The paradigm is consistent.

When you see the picture Phenomenal reveals, you will have a whole new perception of life. You will be reinvigorated about the infinite possibilities that lay before us. You will walk differently and think of yourself and your life in an extraordinary new way. But you don't need to do anything.

You'll want to. You'll want to live your passion, and tap into your phenomenal spark. And if that means you'll help yourself, so be it.

But you won't need to. Because the evolution continues, with or without any of us. I just think the time has come to share the picture I see. And lift the veil on what we have the potential to become. And so I continue writing...

Next up, Article #19: What is Your Contribution?

Phenomenal: The Self-fulfilling Prophecy
is a dynamic new nonfiction book from author Jeff Bollow. You can pre-order your signed, Limited Edition first printing copy with our zero risk buyback guarantee right now. Visit the Pre-Order page for full details.