The importance of perspective is becoming more clear to me all the time. Perspective implies a viewpoint — a place from which we are looking at our lives and the world around us. Pick a specific spot, a physical location, that you have been to in your life. It could be a beautiful vista overlooking the Grand Canyon, the top of a mountain in Colorado, at the bottom of a valley next rushing mountain river, or hiking in the fall foliage of Vermont.
Now, change your perspective — look at that spot from an airplane 30,000 feet above it — and what do you notice about that spot? It’s smaller, a single piece of data in a huge vista of land, trees, rivers, valleys and clouds.
Or change the type of perspective you are using. Think about being in that spot as a four year old — what things you notice and what looks big to you. Then go there as a twenty year old — how does who you are change what you see and focus upon? And then return as a 70 year old adult, with the probable physical limitations you might have. How do your experience, thoughts & feelings differ from this vantage point of life?
Why is it valuable to understand the importance of perspective on our lives? Because if we don’t, we are severely at risk for misinterpreting much of what is going on around us.
Think about this. Take your current life situation — age, relationship status, work/school stage, the neighborhood and home in which you live, what kind of vehicle you drive, where you plan to vacation this summer, and the activities you and your family are involved in. How much of your sense of satisfaction or contentment is related to your neighbors’ or friends’ circumstances in the same areas? Are you discontent because one of your buddies drives a newer, nicer looking car than you? Or that one of your siblings and their family is taking a longer, more luxurious vacation than you will be?
But, wait. Now take your life’s circumstances and compare yourself to the families in Northern Japan, or the thousands of homeless in Haiti, or the families in Arkansas who lost their homes in tornadoes last night. How’s your life seem now?
Is one view “right” and the other distorted? I’m not sure. But I do know that the context of our life — the viewpoint from which we are looking at our current life circumstances — strongly affects our daily thoughts and feelings. And it seems the broader perspective I have — geographically, economically, and over time — tends to bring more contentment and gratitude for my current life circumstances.
Think about it. Anyone else feeling pretty thankful and blessed?