In the open ocean, away from sight of land, you fall off a small boat into the water. You’re a good swimmer, and are able to begin treading water after a moment or two. But there are six-foot swells in the sea and you can’t see over them to determine where the boat is. Even though you’re only about 25 feet away from the boat and could easily swim that distance, you don’t know which way to swim.
In such a situation, you would benefit greatly from gaining a little bit more perspective. For example, if you had some sort of a floating platform, such as a lifeboat, you could stand up on it and that would probably get you high enough above the surface of the water to see over the waves and spot the boat. A small amount of extra perspective — five or six feet — would make an enormous difference in your situation.
Think about your life and all the good things you have going for you. Certainly you have difficulties. Everyone does. Yet those difficulties, as serious as they may be, are really just aberrations in the overwhelmingly positive and abundant experience of being alive. The fact that you’re able to even recognize them as difficulties means that you must have a positive, abundant background against which to compare them. So set aside the difficulties and give yourself some valuable perspective. Focus on appreciating the good and positive things that are too often taken for granted. Consider your family, your faith, your awareness and ability to make things happen, the beauty of the world around you and the opportunities you have to experience it.
Look for the reasons behind the reasons. There is some reason for everything you have chosen to do or to be, and behind that reason is another reason, and a whole string of reasons reaching to your very core. Why do you like to drive your convertible with the top down on a sunny day, and what is the why behind that why? Dig deeply enough and you’ll connect with your most treasured purposes.
By so doing, you enable yourself to make some sense of all the confusion and to give a positive, enduring direction to all your efforts. The more deeply you delve into who you are, the more elevated your perspective becomes. Because you begin to understand that all the superficial things, the things that fill life with confusion, anxiety and complexity, are ultimately not all that important. Certainly they are often useful and desirable, but they are not essential. When you realize that you can detach yourself from them, when you understand that you don’t absolutely need all those superficial things, when you stop worrying so much about them, then you can rise above them and see beyond them.
By taking some time to get away from the noise, and using that time to raise your perspective, then when you go back the noise doesn’t seem so noisy, overwhelming or intrusive. You’ll find that you’re able to think and act at a level where you can see your way forward and then make your way forward. You’re giving yourself a lifeboat in which to stand and see over the waves so you’ll know which way to swim in order to get where you want to go.
By gaining perspective on your life you can replace those things you feel you have to do with the things you want to do, with the things you choose to do. Often the activities themselves don’t change. What changes is your relationship to them and your attitude toward them. And that will make all the difference in the world.