Last May, I hung an exhibit in an interactive gallery. I asked viewers to caption four of my self-portraits and caption themselves in the mirror. I'm curious about perception. How two people can experience the same moment in completely different ways.

Look at the image above. How do you caption the emotion? Some answers from the May show: sadness, leaning in, doubt, fear, anticipation, relief, concentration, humility, depression, defeat, solace, grief, joy, contemplation. A single image, yet varied perceptions. Defeat and solace; grief and joy; fear and relief.

Into every encounter, we carry a filter. Sometimes that filter is clear, but often it's cloudy—clouded by our expectations and our history. We think someone is unkind when she's actually distracted. We assume someone is happy when he's actually in pain. We perceive chaos where there's magic or tension where there's beautiful honesty. It's difficult to see clearly.

And it's helpful to know our perceptions are not reality. They are not the truth. When we're mindful, we open ourselves and remove these filters. We understand there are many views of the same situation. We might not like it. We might really want our particular view. But that's not how life is. There's freedom in letting go. 

This holiday season, can you see someone in a new way? Can you remove an old, muddy filter? Can you view a situation differently? Can you see yourself as beautiful?