Too many people blow their problems way out of
proportion, devoting precious mental energy to situations which do
not carry "life or death" consequences. Virtually
all of us will fall into this trap on occasion, but those who spend
the least amount of time obsessing on trivial circumstances are
likely to accomplish far more--and be happier in the process!
Yet, perspective encompasses more than just steering
clear of petty upsets. It suggests that you've considered your
place in this world and that you appreciate "the big
As you widen the lens of your perception,
you'll experience less tension, improve your attitude, develop
keener insight into the meaning of your life, and most likely enjoy
greater material success as well. The question, then,
becomes: how can we develop more perspective?
One surefire way is through encountering and overcoming
adversity. Dealing with difficult situations leaves you with a
new outlook about what is truly important in your life. If,
for example, you're faced with a life-threatening illness, poor
service in a restaurant will no longer seem very crucial.
Fortunately, you don't have to wait for a major
catastrophe in order to gain perspective. Here are some
suggestions to broaden your outlook which you can implement right
1. Look at
your problem in the context of your entire life.
Ask yourself: How important is this difficulty in the
overall scheme of things? What will this matter ten years from
now? Okay, so you have a leak in your bathroom. It
won't significantly affect the rest of your life. Or, let's
say a prospective sale falls through. Sure, you're
disappointed, but it isn't the end of the world. The key is to
see the problem for what it is--and not let it dominate your
thinking for an entire day, week, or month.
often about how you fit into the "big picture."
Ask yourself: Why am I here? What is my mission in
life? Am I following my purpose? Am I resisting a path
which continues to beckon me? These are not silly,
philosophical questions which applied only to Plato and
Socrates. I'll be the first to admit that I never used to
think about such issues. But I do now. . . and it has enriched
my life tremendously. When you begin to contemplate these
questions, you'll pay less attention to petty annoyances--and be
able to spend more time on things which will help you be a better
person and make a more significant contribution.
3. Wake up
to the miracles all around you.
Whether you realize it or not, you are part of an extraordinary
universe. Spectacular, mind-boggling things are happening
every second. For instance, you breathe, your heart beats and
you digest food all without any conscious effort. Tulips know
when to pop up through the ground at precisely the right time each
and every year. The earth rotates. . . the sun rises and sets.
. . the seasons change. All part of a wondrous, never-ending
cycle. So, shake your ho-hum attitude and begin to appreciate
the amazing intelligence guiding the universe!
4. Be open
to the idea that everything happens for a reason. If you
doubt this principal, speak to people who, in your view, are
positive and successful and who also seem to have peace of
mind. Ask them if they believe that everything happens for a
reason. Then, ask those who answer with an enthusiastic
"YES" to explain why they feel that way.
yourself to others.
We tend to get mired in our own problems, turning inward and growing
depressed and frustrated. Finding ways to serve and help
others will make you feel better and broaden your understanding
about the interconnectedness of all human beings. Even
something as simple as offering a few encouraging words to someone
else can make a world of difference--to them and to you.
on a regular basis with those facing serious challenges.
For example, volunteer each week in a local hospital and spend
time with those who are ill. Or, donate your time serving
meals in a soup kitchen. In either case, you'll be helping
others while at the same time learning just how well off you are!
your focus to the many blessings in your life.
Are you in reasonably good health? Do you have your eyesight
and mobility? Is there a roof over your head and enough food
in the refrigerator? There are many people who do not enjoy
these gifts and who would gladly trade places with you. So,
focus on the many things for which you are grateful. To
reinforce this idea, take the back of an index card and write
"Count Your Blessings," or "I have so much to be
grateful for." Place the card where you'll frequently see
it, such as on your desk, in your car or on the bathroom mirror.
8. Be around
people who have a healthy outlook. We are influenced by
the company we keep. Therefore, try to spend more time with
people--be they friends, relatives, or co-workers--who seem to put
things in perspective. These individuals rarely complain, can
easily distinguish between what's important and what's not, and are
a joy to be around.
every problem as an opportunity for growth.
Too often, we see our difficulties as negative experiences which are
there to punish us and cause pain. As you look back on your
life, you'll find that many problems and painful situations led to
personal growth and improved conditions. Maybe you lost a job
which in turn led you to a better position. Or a relationship
ended but you wound up in a more fulfilling one. So, develop a
strong belief that the "bad" experience is there to help
you in some way. Don't curse your challenge; instead, look for
the lessons or opportunities which your problems are showing you.
your mouth! Do you frequently whine and complain. . . or
broadcast your ailments and minor irritations to everyone who
crosses your path? Griping reinforces your problems, makes you
feel more miserable and alienates others. Find something
positive in your life--or in the other person's life--to talk about
Cultivate your spiritual connection.
I have found that the vast majority of people with healthy
perspectives possess strong spiritual beliefs. Without belief
in a Higher Power, much of life appears cruel and without
purpose. As you tune into your spiritual nature, you gain a
sense of purpose, receive more intuitive guidance and are able to
see the reasons behind the patterns in your life. Each of us,
at the core, yearns to develop a connection with out Higher
Power. It gives us security, confidence, and peace of mind.
day, read literature which expands your perspective.
It might be a spiritual book, like the Bible, or stories of people
who have overcome tremendous obstacles. Keep reading whatever
builds faith, love, and strength for you. The key is daily
yourself in physical surroundings where you can "get away"
from everyday stress.
Changing your environment can give you a fresh, relaxed point of
view. Maybe you like to sit on the beach or take a walk in the
woods. Find scenery which allows you to release tension and
think creatively. . . and go there as much as possible.
Exercise. Aside from the physical benefits to our bodies,
exercise provides release from stress and clears our thinking.
I'm amazed at those who say, "I don't have time to work
out." That's like saying, "I don't have time to be
healthy!" After a tough day, exercise does wonders to get
your mind off your problems and makes you that much more able to
handle stress as it occurs thereafter. So put exercise on your
up and laugh.
We take ourselves and our activities far too seriously. Find
the humor in everyday situations and, most importantly, be willing
to laugh at yourself. The very act of smiling and laughing
makes us feel better physically and reduces tension.
your life and restore balance. Easy to say, but not so
easy to implement. Sometimes, we get overextended, taking on
too many responsibilities or projects. We ignore loved ones
and even our own health. So, maybe it's time to say
"NO" to the next project or demand on your time.
Which is really more important--another volunteer committee
assignment or spending time with your children?
As you gain
perspective, you'll find that your list of what is truly important
will continue to narrow. In the meantime, bear in mind that
perspective is not a destination which you arrive at and
master. It is a fluid concept. As we mature, we tend to
develop a broader outlook; yet there will be times when we become
preoccupied with our difficulties and fail to see the larger
issues. Therefore, we must constantly work at it.
Yes, maintaining perspective requires discipline.
But the benefits--less tension, increased self-awareness, greater
peace of mind, and more--are well worth the effort!
Keller is a motivational speaker and writer who maintains his own
website at http://www.attitudeiseverything.com--drop
by and visit him!