Most of you are used to reading this as "Perception is reality". I think, in simple terms, they both say the same thing. As Wayne Dyer says "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change".
I made the "mistake' of looking this phrase up and was immediately inundated with theories of reality and blah blah blah...I fell asleep reading the scientific and philosophical mumbo jumbo.
It's really pretty easy for me. What you see and hear really depends on a multitude of factors:
Your heritage and upbringing (people with different backgrounds have different meanings for certain words and phrases)
Your mood (when you're in a good mood you look at something completely differently from when you're in a bad mood)
Your beliefs (if you feel that something is against what you believe, you may be offended even if it's not meant offensively)
Your experience with the "event" (if you've had a good experience with something, you'll believe it's a good thing...read some product and book reviews and you'll see what makes someone give an item a poor review - it may just be poor customer service even though the product was ok).
Your education (you may not understand what the event/product/statement is supposed to mean because your education level has either differed from others or it's related to your upbringing as we discussed above)
There are many other things that can influence how you look at something.
The only way to stop letting these factors interfere with your enjoyment or happiness is to have an open mind and go into every situation saying to yourself that you'll look at this completely differently than you used to. That is changing your thoughts. And it is the most valuable activity you can do.
If you're quick to judgement (I would never know anything about that - ha ha), stop yourself after you've made that first judgement and re-evaluate. Take a deep breath and write the "thing" on a piece of paper.
Underneath the "thing" write down the possible ways you can look at it. Just write in a free-flow manner.
Once you've exhausted your ideas, go back and read over the list.
What do you see? Do you see varying ideas and interpretations? What would make one better than the other? Or, more real than another?
Can you figure out how you want to change your thoughts about this particular situation?
If so, you've taken the first step to changing your life to make it the way you want it to be! That is empowerment. That is freedom.
Enjoy the process - that is probably the most important thing of all.