28-01-2024
7 minutes

Perspective: The Key to a Better Understanding of Reality

This time, it’s about something seemingly trivial, namely perspective. This concept has accompanied each of us since childhood, usually first encountered in art or physics classes. Later, it intertwines in our lives in many different contexts. However, I have the impression that we do not realize the (hidden) power that actually lies in this concept. In my opinion, this is mainly because we pay too little attention to how significant (broadly understood) perspective is in our life

Are You in Motion or Not?

Let’s start with a little quiz: if you are lying motionless on the bed in your bedroom, which is in your house or apartment, are you in motion or at rest? Of course, the correct answer is: it depends. If we take the walls and ceiling of our bedroom as a reference point, then we are at rest. But remember, our house/apartment is on the planet Earth, which rotates around its axis (the linear speed caused by this rotation varies depending on where we are, it is greatest at the equator). Furthermore, our Earth also orbits the Sun on a specific orbit (the speed at which this happens is about 30 km/s). And that’s not all, because our solar system moves relative to the center of the galaxy, and our galaxy moves relative to other galaxies. In other words, lying “motionless” in bed in our bedroom, we are moving at speeds that are difficult to imagine J. Everything depends on the perspective.

This example illustrates another important phenomenon. It is related to the specificity of how our brain functions. It is trained to act in the context of issues that have a local and direct character. In other words, it relies on those frames of reference (adopts such a perspective) that seem to it – as it thinks – to have the most practical significance.

At this point, it’s worth paying attention to the word “trained” used above, as this narrowed perception is largely a derivative of the education system, which, in a way, pushes us into “the only correct interpretations,” regardless of whether it pertains to scientific issues or poetry (who among us has not experienced a teacher’s dissatisfaction at school, related to our interpretation of a poem not agreeing with the only correct vision of what the “author meant”). And all this can be reduced to one issue: the lack of teaching critical thinking. It is critical thinking that requires broadening perspective and looking at reality from different places.

Perspective and Experiencing Life

The breadth of our perspective impacts many aspects of our individual and social life. Indeed, broadening our perspective is a phenomenon that can revolutionize our lives. Although it may seem like just a minor adjustment, it actually has the potential to influence every aspect of our experience – from how we perceive ourselves, to how we view others and the world around us. Essentially, it is about changing our mental map of reality. To draw a comparison, consider how our field of vision changes when we stand at the top the Eiffel Tower compared to when we are at its base.

In cognitive psychology, there’s talk of schemas, which are our mental maps of the world. These are principles that our brain uses to interpret information that reaches us through our senses. Our schemas are formed by our experiences and influence how we perceive new information. For example, if our experience has taught us that success requires hard work, we are likely to interpret difficulties as necessary steps towards achieving a goal. We would view this relationship as the only possible norm. Broadening our perspective is like taking a step back to realize that there are other possibilities, such as the idea that work can be a derivative of passion and thus a source of pleasure.

In our lives, there are many such narrow perspectives (sometimes referred to as beliefs about ourselves, the world, etc.). Meanwhile, when we decide to take a step to broaden them, we begin to see a world of entirely new possibilities. For instance, we might realize that, aside from the belief that we are victims of circumstances, there is also the possibility that we have an influence on our situation and that we can shape our reality. This particular shift in perspective can bring about significant changes in our lives, as it can affect our actions, emotions, and decisions. For example, if we start to view failures as opportunities to learn, rather than proofs of our incompetence, we are more likely to take risks, try new things, and not fear failure. This will likely lead to personal growth and the discovery of new opportunities that we previously did not see.

Another example is changing our perspective on other people. If we start to view others as allies rather than competitors (or even enemies), we are more likely to be inclined towards cooperation and building numerous relationships. This can lead to unexpected successes both on a personal and professional level.

Perspective also has enormous significance from the point of view of the changes currently taking place in the world. We can view each event (pandemic, financial crisis, war in Ukraine, etc.) as separate, unconnected events and look for solutions for each of them. The alternative is to take a step back and gain a broader perspective on the processes currently underway. Then one becomes aware that ultimate solutions must come from an entirely different level, that what we are witnessing is a thorough transformation of our civilization, a result of reaching (or rapidly approaching) a wall in many aspects of functioning.

Expand Your Perspective!

How should one approach expanding their own perspective? First, it’s necessary to become aware of all the mechanisms of our inherent limitations. Be open to the truth that the way I perceive the world does not necessarily mean that’s how it is, or that my views are the only correct ones.

It’s also valuable to map out how you perceive the world, on what “foundations” (key beliefs) it is built. From my experience, one of the ways can be to create a list of people and statements with which I … disagree. Such a list provides a good reflection of what I, in turn, identify myself with.

Another important aspect in the context of expanding perspective is meeting people outside of our “bubble”. Those of different cultural, social, religious, and political backgrounds. With different views on life and the world. This allows for an openness to diversity and an understanding that there are many different points of view – perspectives. A similar role can be played by reading books that present diverse life experiences, cultures, and value systems. These are elements of the now commonly promoted in developmental processes “stepping out of the comfort zone”. They are important not only in the context of business but also our personal perspective, our own life.

Another important element is feedback, popular today in business but little used in a broader context. This from close friends, family, etc. can provide you with valuable insights and help you better understand “through what glasses you look at the world”. Whether you use any significant filters, related to deeply rooted beliefs.

In conclusion, expanding perspective is a powerful tool for changing our lives. It can affect our actions, emotions, decisions, relationships with others. All of this, by changing the way we perceive ourselves, others, and the world around us. If we really want to face the challenges of today’s world, it will definitely be easier to do so “grasping” the situation from the top of the Eiffel Tower than standing at its base.

 

The image accompanying the text was generated by AI (DALL-E)

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