Getting Perspective

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.

  • Laura Young

    I read Steve’s article also. The only thing that bothers me is that it sounds so flip. Yes, every living being dies but I do think that grief is something to be honored.
    I think there is a middle ground between catastrophizing and looking at oneself as a miniscule speck in an overwhelmingly huge universe across all eternity.
    There was a great quote in Das Energi,
    Let us remember our lives are but moments in the flow of eternity…
    and let us also remember that eternity is but a flow of lives like ours.

  • Scott Young

    Everyone enters and leaves in our life. People will come and go. From your standpoint wouldn’t the gradeschool friend you lost touch with might as well have passed away? If you don’t see the person anymore then it would feel the same from your perspective. Perhaps it is just the finality of it all, the fact that it is now impossible to reform a relationship.

    I personally feel there is a sort of arrogance that comes with death. We feel as if we are inadvertantly reminded that we are all going to die, ourselves. It reminds us that our own existance will end.

    My favorite quote about death:

    “Life is beautiful, death is peaceful. It is the transition that is difficult.”

    Death is what makes life worth living. The knowledge that you are eventually going to die. The idea that you have a limited amount time on this planet makes everything seem a lot more precious. Some people ask what is the meaning of life if we are just going to die. I counter to ask what would be the meaning of life if we lived forever?

  • Elina McGill

    This is an excellent method. I believe that our day to day problems should have a deadline. This is why we should put a limit on our problems. For me, my problem have a 72 hour limit. Before that limit I find a way to deal with it or simply just let it go.