The word perspective has always captured my attention. It is such an interesting concept and so critical to our development its importance cannot be understated.
How often do you take a new or fresh perspective about something? It is a simple way to expand your understanding of anything or any subject. Perspective-taking is a critical skill for learning, growing, and maturing in life. Being able to take another's perspective helps you better understand them and grows your relationship.
Think about it for a moment. Were you to enter any serious relationship, whether romantic, a friendship, or at work, if you can only see from your own perspective, your sight will be limited indeed! It is through understanding and accepting their perspective that you bond. By finding more perspectives to view anything in life, especially those of other people, growth occurs.
"It's not what you look at that matters; it's what you see." Henry David Thoreau
Gaining greater perspective
The ability to take more than one perspective on a subject is a wonderful trait to develop. It will provide you with greater insight, more knowledge, and better understanding.
Recognize when you are alone, there are really two of you. There is the you that readily expresses yourself, your opinions, and your desires. Then there is the real you, deep inside, often untapped.
Ask yourself how you view something. Anything. Write down your answer. We will come back to this in a moment.
Tapping into your internal view through mindfulness
Here is a mindfulness technique you can use anytime you want to dig deeper than your first reaction or response to a thought. You will be amazed at how often it surfaces something you had not originally thought of – a new view or perspective.
Step 1. Take a moment to get in touch with your body. Notice your breathing. Is it shallow? Is it rapid or slow? Take a moment to focus on your breathing. You may wish to inhale slowly and deeply and exhale slowly.
Step 2. Notice the tension in your body. Close and relax your eyes. Release the tension in your eyes and forehead. This is called lightening the eyes and can be used anytime and anywhere during the day. Just think – "lighten my eyes." You will be amazed at how much tension you carry in them.
Notice your breathing.
Step 3. Now move to your cheeks, mouth, and jaw. Release any tension. Relax. Notice your breathing again. If you are not already breathing deeper and slower, do so now. Pay attention to the air going in your nostrils or mouth. Think calming thoughts. Notice how much lighter your eyes and entire face and head feel.
How is your breathing?
Step 4. If you have time, continue down the rest of your body, noticing tension in your shoulders and neck, relaxing them. Continue this until you get to your feet and toes.
When you are ready, ask yourself the same question you did beforehand. You are now in a better place to see a different perspective. You will likely be amazed at how your deeper, internal perspective differed from the initial, superficial perspective.
"Your reality is as you perceive it to be. So, it is true, that by altering our perception we can alter our reality." William Constantine
Let me provide a personal example. My question as I start this is, "Why am I writing and publishing an article every day?"
My immediate response to this is that I enjoy pushing myself to see what I can do, and I need the activity for my brain to stay sharp.
Now I will do the mindfulness exercise above.
Having taken a few minutes and completed the exercise, my relaxed state perspective is:
I enjoy learning all that I am learning by writing so often. I love that I am sharpening my skills, and in these years of retirement, I am building a legacy that I hope will help many people beyond my lifetime. I live to help people grow while growing myself. It is a very satisfying part of my life, and I am thankful I have the time and resources to do it.
I will stop here as I continued to write quite a bit more that surfaced after doing the mindfulness exercise.
By the way, the relaxation technique above is extremely useful if you have trouble falling to sleep. I never make it all the way down my body before falling soundly to sleep. It works better than sleeping pills for me and has no side effects!
Gaining multiple perspectives
Now that you have seen a technique for gaining an additional perspective on your own, let's take it to the next step of involving someone else.
"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is perspective, not the truth." Marcus Aurelis
Did you know 1 + 1 = 6!
No, this is not some crazy new math, but it is reality when two people get together. Yes, now your first and deeper perspectives, plus the other person’s first and deeper perspectives, gives you four. Then there are two additional perspectives to add to make it six! The following quote explains how you gain so much more by being with one other person.
"Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is." William James
In other words, you are adding two additional perspectives because of your view of one another.
When you have something important such as a major decision to make, get with one other person with a pen in hand and record each of the six perspectives. Some may be the same or similar, but every time I have done this, I find two or more things I would have never thought of on my own.
To experiment with this technique, you and the other person repeat the previous exercise to gain four perspectives and then simply add the perspective you think the other has. This will give you six potential views. Don't forget the mindfulness exercise, as it will add value to the results you receive. Now, imagine doing this with three or more people. The bigger the decision is, the more important it is to gain as many perspectives as possible.
The great thing about doing perspective work is it is easy to do on your own or in a group. The end result will always be a greater understanding, more options, and greater wisdom.
I leave you with a final quote to contemplate. May you have an ever-expanding view of life!
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes." Marcel Proust