What is perspective and why is it important? Could it change your life? Make you happier? Help you achieve your goals? Pull you through hardships? Make you a victor instead of a victim?
One hundred percent - yes!
Let's look into this in more detail and discover practical ways this can be applied in everyday life.
FIRST - DEFINITIONS
Imagine standing on the hilltop and looking at a green valley with rivers and small villages below. Now transfer to the bottom of that hill. You have to climb it in order to see all that beauty. How do you feel about it? Do you think it's worth your effort? Are you looking forward to the view or dreading the work?
How you look at things will determine your attitude and actions. What you've experienced in the past and what others have shared with you will play a role too. You might even decide not to climb at all!
And that's what perspective does in our lives - it often determines how we feel, think, and act.
PERSPECTIVE is your attitude, outlook, frame of mind, viewpoint, approach, understanding of a particular issue, what you deem important or not, etc. In other words - it's the way you see things.
How does this lens through which we view ourselves and the world around us develop?
Research claims that we form our own perspective around the school age. We learn to analyze the situation at hand and react to it appropriately (or not). Over the years, our perspective is shaped by our environment, upbringing, personal experiences, and interactions with others. It also changes with age.
What's important is to recognize what your perspective is on a particular subject, figure out why you have this view, decide whether it's helping or hindering you, and then explore other possibilities.
Having a solid understanding of your perspective is empowering. Even though it's shaped by people and circumstances, ultimately you decide what to take in and what to reject.
WHY IS PERSPECTIVE IMPORTANT? There are many reasons. Widening or even completely changing your perspective on something can open new possibilities, give you greater understanding and empathy, bring more fulfillment in life, help with personal growth, deepen relationships, increase your ability to solve problems, and provide new opportunities. It can also block you from all these things.
When we are open to exploring new viewpoints, it leads to different decisions, behaviors, and results. As Albert Einstein said: "You can never solve problems with the same mindset that created them."
Pick any topic. How about public speaking? Marriage? Working from home? Mental health? What comes to your mind when you see these words? It depends on your personal experiences, interactions with others, knowledge base, etc. Can your perspective change? Would it help make your life better?
I'd say being open to change is the key. Watch this TED talk to see how a small shift in perspective helped this poor teen immigrant transform into a successful businesswoman going after all her dreams.
SECOND - ACTIONS
Anyone is able to adjust their perspective to find new possibilities and open new doors. You included.
If you watched the 15-minute video above, you might have noticed that a change in perspective begins with asking a few simple questions. Let's try this. Pick a specific area in your life that you're struggling with. It can be something that you consider a personal weakness, a limitation in your circumstances, or simply something you'd like to work on improving. Then ask yourself the following:
~What are my beliefs around this issue?
~Where are these conclusions stemming from?
~Is this way of thinking helping or hurting me?
~How did others deal with similar issues?
~What are some different opinions about it?
~If ____ instead of ____ is true, what will the result be?
The point is to look a little deeper into your perspective surrounding a certain question and explore other possibilities. The shift in the way you think can happen from personal research, studying, experimenting (trying something outside of your comfort zone), talking to others, praying, introspecting.
Here is a great article about practical ways to change your thinking and therefore your life. You can also print out this worksheet or create your own when going through this activity. What's important is to try.
And here is another tool called "fresh eyes" that can be applied not only in personal life but also at work. Attempting a perspective change can be used any time you feel stuck and need a new solution.
THIRD - SOLUTIONS
What if you try to change the way you view yourself or your situation and it doesn't bring any visible results? I'd say that changing one's perspective is not about denial of reality. Sometimes no matter how we look at a problem, it might still be there the next day. Then what's the point of even doing all this?
First of all, perspective is more about what's going on inside of you. Even if the circumstances remain the same, adjusting the way you view them could bring enough inner peace and strength to help you go through the difficult times without breaking. And even if you can't find a workable answer to a problem, you will still grow in the process. All of this depends on your perspective, and that's within your control.
We've all met people who became stronger after hardships, and it doesn't take long to realize that it was because of their outlook on life. It takes a conscious choice and effort to focus on something beyond the immediate problem. To "zoom out" in the midst of overwhelm is a struggle. If you can hang on to the light, hope, and positivity in the midst of darkness, you will come out as a winner in the end.
So are you a glass-half-empty or half-full type of person? Do you tend to focus on what you have or what you lack? Here is one simple thing you can start doing today to have a more positive perspective on life.
Sometimes perspective change means looking beyond what is visible at the moment. For example, the Bible tells a story about an Israelite prophet Elisha who was seemingly trapped by the enemy's army, but the heavenly protection was in fact surrounding his foes in greater numbers at that moment. In our lives, what we might need is to open our eyes and see that the answer is already there.
So today I'd like to invite you to look for new horizons. Who knows, maybe your answer is just beyond the next hill. Don't give up.
As Dan Brown said: "Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light." And one of the ways is to read more. Here is a list of non-fiction books that could help.