I remember the very first time I traveled long haul by plane. The experience of looking down and seeing so many different countries below me, and from such an unfamiliar perspective, made a big impact on me. The details were not discernible, but the structure of the landscape, the rivers and coastlines, were very obvious.
Many of our problems exist simply because we have a certain perspective, a certain way of thinking about things. And it follows that our problems would dissolve if we just changed our way of looking.
Each of us sees the world around us from our own perspective, of course – it is impossible to see ‘the truth.’ We interpret everything through the filters of our experience, beliefs and expectations. And, while we develop a set perspective to help us understand and analyze situations more quickly and allow us to make decisions more rapidly, our personal perspective can begin to hold us back. Have you ever had ‘one of those days’ when one bad thing seemed to follow another, and nothing seemed to go right? Those days are often a result getting rather ‘stuck in a rut’ of interpreting things in a negative way.
Take a moment to consider your own personal perspective. How did you develop it? Would you consider yourself trusting or cynical? Do you see the world with a pessimistic, ‘glass-half-empty’ attitude, or do you tend to believe that things are working out for the best? The first step to being able to change your perspective is to understand what your perspective is and maybe even why you see things the way you do. This doesn’t mean that you have the ‘wrong’ perspective; but you need to understand your own mind in order to become its master.
Once you understand what your perspective is, you can begin to make changes. You can make an active effort to change the way you perceive the world around you. Start with little things- is there something or someone that you always criticize? Try changing how you look at whatever it is that you speak negatively about, and see if you can find a different way to see it. You might have a teenage son or daughter that listens to music that you dislike or dresses in a way that you don’t approve of, or your spouse might have habits that annoy you. This is very common, so try thinking about things from his or her perspective, and asking yourself why your child decides to express her personality that way, or why your spouse behaves as he does.
Shifting your perspective means taking the time to look at the story from a different angle, to understand before you judge and to think before you speak. You will find that by shifting your perspective, you will have a new appreciation for the people and things around you. That positive attitude will spread to other areas of your life, and you will find that things go your way more often.
Shifting perspective doesn’t mean that the things you have always believed are wrong. It simply means that you are able to open your mind to new ideas and new ways of thinking, and to be more compassionate towards other people.
A consequence of shifting perspective is that, when you do so, you also change how the world views you. Changing perspective is often difficult – it is hard to see things differently after many years of habitual thinking – but it can make you happier and can help you discover who you really are.
Now I often fly long-haul and, whenever I do so, I am always reminded about the importance of perspective.