Steve Pavlina has a great article (as always 😉 ) on putting your life’s problems into perspective. I think this is an especially valuable and valid point. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by our own insignificant lives that we fail to see the big picture. If you’re having a hard problem, maybe getting a wider perspective is the key.
My personal favorite technique for getting a wider perspective is to look at my problems from the perspective of my entire life. To do this, sit back in your chair or on the floor and close your eyes. Take deep breaths, focusing on your breathing until you reach a point where you can visualize easily.
Once you are in this position imagine your life as it will be six months from now. Just sit back and think about where you are and what is happening. More importantly, if you are using this technique to deal with a particularly difficult problem, focus on how you think about that problem now. Day-to-day problems usually don’t seem important at this point, but if you still think it is bothering you, push further ahead.
Try thinking about where your life will be in five years. Use this process to visualize everything that has changed and how you have changed. Once again, think about the problem you are facing, how does it feel? If your problem still seems relevant, move forward to ten, twenty, fifty years? Imagine your thoughts as you are lying on your deathbed.
While this technique can certainly be used to give you perspective into a specific problem, I would suggest it just to keep your life on track. By imagining the entirety of your life, you will get the perspective that allows you to best use the time you do have. We are all going to die, so we should make the most of what we have.
Usually this technique broadens your perspective so much that any little problem seems like a blip in the overall continuum of your life. However, there might be problems that this technique just won’t be enough. If you are suffering from a terminal illness or a horrific accident, even the perspective of your entire life might not be enough to blur out the problem.
If you are at this point, try shifting your perspective beyond your life. How does this problem matter when looking at your entire community, your country or the world? How does this problem matter when looking at the entirety of the universe?
We will all have problems in our lives. Some of us will have more problems than others. Some of us will be given huge problems. I know your already aware of this fact, but it is worth restating. Life is unfair.
We can complain about how life is unfair. But our complaint about this aspect of the universe won’t change it. We might as well get mad at gravity. In the end, it is what we do with our problems that will make the difference. Getting a different perspective can allow us to do the best we can with what we are given.