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Perspective has many definitions because it can mean something different to each of us. When I think of perspective, I essentially think of the big picture. Putting situations in perspective is taking them beyond the moment themselves and placing them in the grand scheme of life and your goals. The purpose is to not give singular moments more credit than they deserve.
Putting moments in perspective allows us to relax and approach things in a controlled manner. I can’t think of another time where perspective and mindset were more important than they are right now. It’s not a matter of downplaying the situation, but rather facing it head-on and seeing it for what it truly is. I think it’s incredibly important to think about the path you’re on in life, specifically your approach.
This time has impacted us all in unique and mostly negative ways, including myself. However, this situation has been much easier to handle for some than for others. I think that’s in large part due to perspective. Without mental discipline, focus, and commitment, surely this time would be a lot to deal with. The goal of this article is to help you get past that and to make the rest of this experience as beneficial for you as possible.
Why putting things into perspective is so important
I’m no expert, so take my advice as you will. However, I’ve had lots of real-world experience specifically with perspective and mindset. I’ve drastically changed my life, how I interact with it, and my overall outlook simply through introspection, training my mind and keeping myself focused.
There was a time in my life where I was so depressed, so filled with constant anxiety, that I could barely even function. But through effort and dedication, I was able to slip out of this part of my life, lose 80lbs along the way, and excel in school and professionally. That doesn’t mean I’m not subject to hardship like everyone else.
Like many people, I lost my job because of this pandemic, but the difference for me was that my mindset and ability to put things in perspective was already sharp. Despite all that has happened, my focus has always been forward-looking and not letting the moment define me. Refining your mindset and utilizing perspective can make any situation manageable and allow you to realize your full potential in life.
When I talk about putting things into perspective, it’s important you know that doesn’t mean I’m saying to downplay moments or not care. The point is that we often get lost in the moment. Society is quick moving and we struggle to take a second to breathe. Even when we have all the time in the world to breathe, we struggle in seeing moments as part of the greater whole.
You can live in the moment, but don’t let small moments be so destructive internally. We must put the small moments in perspective so that we can better handle the big moments. This piece is about getting you to take control of the small moments first. Hopefully with these tools and pieces of advice, you’ll be able to establish a framework for the bigger occurrences in life.
“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else.” – Les Brown
Here are three strong ways to start utilizing and refining perspective in your life:
1. Stop, Breath, Think, React
For most people, it’s as simple as just taking a second before reacting. This is crucial for me, as my natural emotional reactions are almost always destructive rather than productive. Whether you’re the same way or not, slowing down and taking a breath is always a useful technique in life.
Before you blow up over just missing that subway train or on that guy who bumped into you, take a second, breathe, think, and then react. We all have countless moments every day like this. At the end of the day, is it that big of a deal if you miss that subway train? It’s these little moments that’ll start to make all the difference in your overall happiness levels once you start addressing them.
Reflection is an important tool for so many aspects of life. As it pertains to perspective, reflection will allow you to refine your approach. As you reflect, you’ll be able to think about actions and how you want to move forward. Looking back at situations, you can see where you may have handled something the wrong way, or notice where your mindset was off.
Without reflection, I don’t believe it’s possible to address problem areas moving forward. Only by reflection can you expose these areas, think about them, and then input a strategy to address them moving forward. It’s important to know that the past can be very important and useful, but only if you use it to learn and not to dwell on it.
We all make mistakes and have bad days. If you have these moments, don’t get lost in your frustration, use them as a learning experience to avoid them in the future. Reflection can lead to incredible realizations, but it can also lead down a dangerous path if you let it. Beating yourself up about a moment that has already passed brings no value to you whatsoever, remember that.
Reflection’s key function as it relates to perspective is that it’ll allow you to be more aware of thoughts, actions, and feelings in real-time. You’ll be able to catch yourself in these negative ways of thinking and acting much easier, which gives you the chance to correct in real-time.
Reflection works like that, it’s not going to be clear cut or always work when you want it to. If you have an area you struggle with, then put it in the forefront of your mind and dissect it.
“I visualize where I wanted to be, what kind of player I wanted to become. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, and I focused on getting there.” – Michael Jordan
3. Know Where You’re Going
Ultimately the best way to focus on the things that matter is having an end destination or direction of some kind. Whether it’s a dream you have, a job you want, something you want to accomplish, or even a way you want to live, you should have something.
Direction is a powerful motivator in life and is incredibly useful in utilizing perspective. For example, I know the values I want to live by and the kind of person I want to be, yet I don’t have a clue where I’ll be in a year from now. Nonetheless, those values and personal characteristics are still incredibly useful for me.
When I find myself in moments in which I’m not acting or living in the way I wish, I’m able to refocus to get back on my desired path in life. You’ll begin to see how these small moments you’ve made such a big deal of, in reality have little impact on your ability to still achieve what you want in life.
Focus on what your priorities are in life, think about what you want, and what you care about and let that be your guide. The more you do so and the more you focus on these priorities, the easier it will be to overcome the smaller moments of frustration, sadness, and pain.
If you start overcoming the little things in life routinely, you’ll find that the big things aren’t as daunting as you perceived them to be. Establish some kind of direction in your life and let that be what drives you forward.
As we move forward during this time of crisis, I urge everyone to try and get some good out of it. For as terrible as this situation is, it also provides an essentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to refocus and refine our approach to life. Perspective is a powerful tool in life if utilized in the right way. Why not use this rare time in life to ensure you’re heading in the right direction?