People with perspective feel happier, are filled with peace, find more fulfillment, and finish goals with success. One of the greatest gifts you can give anyone – including yourself – is perspective. Because the right perspective strategies will move your life forward by leaps and bounds, let’s equip you with them now.
Perspective is your point of view. More specifically it’s your ability at any given time to see all the data you think is relevant and to put the data into a meaningful relationship so that you survive/thrive.
Perspective is how you think you make sense of what’s going on at any given time, based on what your brain, in particular the reticular activating system, thinks is relevant for your surviving/thriving at the time.
Here’s why perspective is so important for your success: you never see all the data. You only see (and experience) the data that your brain thinks is relevant in the moment. Which is why so many couples argue – ha-ha!
It’s also why some are pessimistic while others are optimistic about their future.
In the book called Abundance: Why the Future is Better Than You Think, the authors, Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, encourage more of us to see all the good in the world – especially in the midst of any bad.
The twentieth century, for example, witnessed both incredible advancement and unspeakable tragedy. The 1918 influenza epidemic killed fifty million people, World War II killed another sixty million. There were tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, ?res, floods, even plagues of locust. Despite such unrest, this period also saw infant mortality decrease by 90 percent, maternal mortality decrease by 99 percent, and, overall, human lifespan increase by more than 100 percent. In the past two decades, the United States has experienced tremendous economic upheaval. Yet today, even the poorest Americans have access to a telephone, television, and a flush toilet—three luxuries that even the wealthiest couldn’t imagine at the turn of the last [19th] century. In fact, as will soon be clear, using almost any metric currently available, quality of life has improved more in the past century than ever before. So while there are likely to be plenty of rude, heartbreaking interruptions along the way, as this book will demonstrate, global living standards will continue to improve regardless of the horrors that dominate the headlines.
Perspective is how you look at things. It’s like the guy driving in the country one day who saw an old man sitting on a fence rail watching the cars go by. Stopping to pass the time of day, the traveler said, “I never could stand living out here. You don’t see anything, and I’m sure you don’t travel like I do. I’m on the go all the time.”
The old man on the fence looked down at the stranger and spoke, “I can’t see much difference in what I’m doing and what you’re doing. I sit on the fence and watch the autos go by and you sit in your auto and watch the fences go by. It’s just the way you look at things.”
That’s a great way to think about perspective: it’s not how things look, but how you look at things. Kind of like when the giant Goliath came against the Israelites and the soldiers all thought, “He’s so huge we can never win,” while David looked at the same giant and thought, “He’s so huge I can’t miss.”
So when you are:
- Feeling bad about your job
- Feeling frustrated at the pace of success
- Wondering when your real life is going to begin
- Wanting more time and money
Just change your perspective a bit. Just the smallest shift in perspective will set you up to win in your life.
Now the fastest way to regain perspective is
with your attention.
Attention is your mental ability to notice what is relevant to you in the moment. Attention is powerful because what you mentally attend to, your whole life goes towards. Your life always moves to the strongest impression in your mind and it’s attention that is your strongest impression.
While we attend to one thing, we are consciously unaware of everything else – even of everything else that’s in the same room as you!.
Because of our finiteness and limited mental bandwidth we will always have inattentiveness.
That’s great news because it means there’s always room for a bigger and better perspective. That bigger and better perspective will put you into a better state and improve your day and life.
Many times throughout the day – because our brain is trying to keep us surviving – our brain focuses on pain, problems, and fear. This immediately narrows our attention, leaving us feeling disempowered.
The strategy is in knowing that just because you feel down, discouraged, or distressed because of some painful circumstance or bad news that just came across your ATTENTION, it doesn’t mean that is all there is to your reality.
There are other things – LOTS OF GREAT THINGS – going on in your life in those moments that your attention is currently unaware of…
- Did you drink clean water today? Many people didn’t.
- Will you sleep with a roof over your head tonight?
- Did you eat?
- Do you have people giving you money for a job you do?
- Does at least 1 person love you?
- Do you have your legs? Arms? Eyes?
Perspective expands your attention and brings those other great things onto your mental dashboard. Now you feel better and can move forward with life in a positive direction.
Carl Sagan emphasized critical thinking and challenged us to use what he termed “baloney detection” as a life-skill. Well, you can apply the baloney detection to your limited attention whenever your attention leaves you feeling disempowered:
- Someone criticize you and now you’re telling yourself a story about how you’re not good enough. Scream, BALONEY DETECTION! and let perspective to expand your attention.
- Can’t seem to get your sales quota and now you’re thinking, “I’ll never get this right.” Yell, BALONEY DETECTION! then give permission to perspective to expand your attention.
- In another spat with your spouse and now you are thinking, “Why did we ever get married?” BALONEY DETECTION!
- Your kid screams at you and now you’re feeling like you are a terrible parent? BALONEY DETECTION!
In other words, don’t EVER accept at face value what you are seeing and hearing.
Develop the life-skill strategy of giving perspective permission to expand your attention even when you are seeing and hearing good things.
Because you can always reach another level of aweseomeness.
Here’s the perspective strategy to move your life forward: Put your attention on empowering and better ideas, thoughts, and emotions – always, always, always.
But aaron, that isn’t reality.
Yes it is. Have you checked in on Einstein’s theory of relativity? He, himself, states, “Reality is merely an illusion; albeit a very persistent one.”
This means you never have the full picture. Never. In fact, your attention can only handle so much of the picture. There’s always far more empowering news and information around you at all times. So practice stepping back, taking a deep breath, and honing in on more liberating, empowering, enriching, and loving thoughts to fill in the current picture. Because when you get perspective:
- You feel better
- You go further
- You’ll treat others more lovingly.
- You’ll be happier
- Your life moves forward.
Always look for the data and information that helps you move your life forward – and look for it until you find and feel it.
It’s like the two shoemakers who were trying to move their lives forward. Their manufacturer opened up a store in an undeveloped territory in the Congo. The two salesmen went to find some leads and customers when, at the end of the day, one salesman called back: “We will never have success here. No one wears shoes!” The other salesman called back on the same night, enthusiastically stating, “We have found the most successful location! Everyone is currently barefooted!”
Both salesmen had attention, but one locked in on disempowering information and data, while the other allowed perspective to expand his attention until he found the information and data that empowered and enlivened his life and those around him.
When you attend to something – which you are always doing – you miss pretty much everything else. Yet, those things you are attending to shape your mental awareness, form neuro-associations in the brain, and direct your life, results, and outcome.
Psychologists call this “Spotlighting.” This is where your brain picks out something in particular to attend to while everything else in the room (and planet!) remains in the periphery at best.
That’s why it’s always good to have a strong dose of humility in our lives.
When feeling bad or disempowered simply ask yourself, What great things are going unnoticed in my life right now?
Train yourself to attend wisely.
The point: throughout life you have habitualized your reticular activating system (what your brain thinks is relevant to pay attention to for your surviving/thriving), meaning you regularly attend to certain POINTS OF VIEW – even if these points of view disempower, discourage, and debilitate your hopes and dreams.
When you begin to attend to the right things, it’s like a boost to the soul and a shot to the arm – now you have a positive and empowering perspective that will create a positive and empowering life.
Here are some perspective-strategies to help with just that:
- Remind yourself that light to your eye is 2 dimensional while reality is 3 dimensional. This means you always only see in part. There’s so much more love surrounding you, much more peace within reach, and an abundance of joy floating around the corner. Just flip on the perspective switch to see it.
- Whenever someone antagonizes or criticizes you, remember to remain a calming presence. Just repeat the phrase, I am a calming presence, over and over again. It will empower your perspective and put your attention in a better place.
- Put so called “failures” in perspective. Most people know Babe Ruth because of his home run record. You probably know Babe Ruth because of his home runs. He hit 714, after all! But did you know he struck out 1,330 times?! That’s a lot of whiffs and failures. It was such a failure that he held the record for most strikeouts for many decades to come! Yet, when asked about this he simply replied, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” Remember that most success stories don’t come in spite of failure, but precisely right after someone failed and learns to pivot so that she can make lemonade out of lemons.
- It’s never just about how things look, but always about how you look at things.
- Every night before bed, pull out your phone and look at Google Earth. This is a great, calming perspective switch.
- Remember, whatever you see is just one slice of the story. Step back and look for other slices of reality until you find one that is helpful for moving your life forward. Someone can always find data for both disempowering and empowering stories. It’s a tunnel that never ends. So why not pick the empowering stories that move your life forward?
- Ask yourself, in the grand scheme of things, how much will this really matter? Baseball pitcher Tug McGraw had his own helpful philosophy of pitching to take the stress off and put him in the zone. He called it his “frozen snowball” theory. “If I come in to pitch with the bases loaded,” Tug explained,” and heavy hitter Willie Stargell is at bat, there’s no reason I want to throw the ball. But eventually I have to pitch. So I remind myself that in a few billion years the earth will become a frozen snowball hurtling through space, and nobody’s going to care what Willie Stargell did with the based loaded!” He then letter rip!
Whenever circumstances overwhelm you, setbacks ground you, or pain swirls around you, the very first casualty is perspective. We tend to give in and attend to whatever circumstance hit us. We do this because we think the circumstance, setback, or pain is so relevant it must receive our attention. We do this instinctively because when our stress hormones are released, our brain thinks it needs to keep us alive.
But get this: when your stress hormones are released in the brain, the brain doesn’t know whether a lion is chasing you down the street or if it’s just because you forgot to pay a bill. Stress hormones are released either way and that means your attention goes to that scary circumstance, which derails your days and destroys your good energy levels.
But you can step back and choose a more empowering meaning. That’s perspective at work. You always have a choice.
Perspective is like the two men looking out from prison bars. One sees mud, the other sees stars. Or like the two people looking at the glass. One sees it half-full while the other sees the same glass half-empty.
My encouragement is for you to choose the information, data, and meaning – the perspective – that grows you into your fullest life and moves your life forward.