Default Settings

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Each of us has a lens for seeing the world. We have a framework for how we view, interpret, and understand the events and individuals surrounding us. Sometimes this framework comes naturally as part of our personality; in others, it is instilled from a young age.

These perspectives are our default settings, the baseline we start from when we attempt to understand and react to the world around us. Some refer to this baseline as our bias, the slant we add to life. Each of us has one, affecting how we view others, respond, and make decisions.

It would be exciting to say that our baseline and bias encourage us to live well, but that’s often not the case. Typically, we’re fighting against that same baseline to pursue a life well-lived.

The lessons and growth come when we recognize those baselines and wrestle with them. Let’s explore several common ones and how we can use them to push ourselves forward.


Our society fixates on each of us being happy and undisturbed. Nothing should upset us, and nothing should offend. But happiness is an emotion, fleeting and fickle.

Joyfulness moves beyond happiness; it is a state of mind. It is a foundational way of viewing life and circumstances positively, assured that even difficult times will benefit us in the end. It’s a state of confidence.

In contrast, negativity is a mindset that assumes that the worst will happen. A negative mind believes the worst about others, and quickly finds faults and flaws. Much of the time it is also wildly inaccurate.

Do you view work, obligations, and events in your life through a prism of joyful satisfaction?

Or is your first reaction to point out how far from perfect everything is?


Mindfulness and intentional are en vogue again, pushing back against our hyper-stimulated world. If your default setting is intentionality, you are positioned for success. In our distracted culture, anyone able to concentrate on achieving results is already leading the pack.

Reactive mindsets eschew planning, immerse themselves in distractions, and live in a state of chaotic disruption. Unfortunately, this describes far too many of us, perpetually moving from one shiny thing to the next, never stopping to reflect on our destination.

Are you intentional with your time, attention, and resources?

Or do you let others and events dictate how you use each of those things in your life?


Our world is in love with love. We want passionate love in our relationships, enduring love in our families, and a productive love for our work.

But an outlook of love is less about what we gain, and more about what others need. We share two universal human desires: to be known and loved.

A baseline of love is one where we strive mightily to understand others fully and appreciate them.

The opposite of love is not hatred; it’s indifference. What we don’t love, we ignore. Love is the epitome of positive human emotions; indifference creates no feeling whatsoever.

Seeing yourself and others through a default setting of love takes diligence and courage. It’s hard work, since few of us are naturally lovable.

But that effort sure beats a life of lazy indifference.


There’s a lot to be afraid of (or so we’re constantly being told): discomfort, the unknown, failure, the future. The list can keep going with all the various avenues and variables of life able to cause us anxiety and worry (if we let them).

Fear is a robust emotional response, and far too often, we easily slip into it.

But a fearful outlook is defeated by a faith-filled mindset. Instead of anxiety or discomfort, a perspective grounded on faith looks to the future with hope and calmness.

Faithful individuals understand that there are plans and purposes for each of our lives, and that things will work out the way they are supposed to.

We Can Change

We may be born with tendencies toward specific outlooks or perspectives; some folks are naturally more joyful, while others naturally worry more. The exciting truth is that we don’t have to stay with our default settings.

We own beautiful things in this life called choice and agency.

We get to be involved in writing our story and point of view.

Each of us knows individuals who have changed their default outlook. Folks who were angry and are now content. Others that were timid and now exude confidence. Or still, other individuals who despaired amidst depression and now move forward with optimism.

Whether through events in their life, conscious effort (or both), they have changed their lens. They see the world differently now.

And they stand as examples and evidence that we can do the same.

Moving Forward

What are your default settings for viewing the world? Which of those do you want to change?

Start today: Take stock of what attitudes or outlooks you believe need to change to meet your goals. Write a brief list of daily acts or habits to encourage that revised attitude.

Originally published at on March 17, 2021.



Lifelong writer and researcher, often can be found at, pursuing a life well lived

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Frederick Johnston

Frederick Johnston

Lifelong writer and researcher, often can be found at, pursuing a life well lived