You’re probably well aware that your perspective — or point of view — matters a great deal. Whether you’re positive or negative, happy or sad, focused on the details or eyeing the big picture, looking up or looking down — everything around you is impacting what you see and think and do. But, as aware of this as you might be, most of us forget about this. We’re in whatever place or attitude or frame of mind that we’re in and we forget that, oftentimes, our perspective is something that we’ve chosen.
This concept was brought sharply into focus (quite literally!) the other day while I was looking out the window at some pretty, fluffy clouds. One second I was looking at the sky and, a second later, my eyes shifted their focus and I was looking at the little black grid of the window’s screen, with the sky blurry in the background. (See my attempt at a recreating this moment in the image above.)
If you can, go to a window with a screen right now and try it. Focus on the screen, and the sky’ll go blurry. Focus on the sky, and the blurred screen can almost be ignored.
You do this with your eyes all the time, giving attention to something close or far away and blurring the opposite perspective. And guess what? You do this with your mind, too. All the time. And, just like the screen / sky example, you probably don’t think about it much. If something’s on your screen (say, a butterfly landed there), it’ll grab your attention. If the sky’s a startling blue or a worrisome gray, your eyes’ll be drawn to that. You look at what’s most noteworthy to you at the moment and ignore the rest.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if you were to see everything all at once, your brain would be overstimulated, and you’d probably go a bit crazy. But, when it comes to more abstract things — say, a positive mindset vs. negative mindset — it’s important to be aware of not only what you’re looking at, but also what you’re not looking at. And, even more importantly, to think about whether you’re looking at is the right thing or if it’s actually helpful.
For example, if you’re trying to figure out what the weather’s like, looking at the screen isn’t particularly useful. Likewise, if you want to know if the screen could use a good cleaning, looking at the sky won’t give you the info you need. This week, I want to think about what the sky / screen is in your life right now.
- What are you focusing intently on? What is your current screen? Your sky?
- Is what you’re focusing on the right thing to look at right now?
(Key words: right now. This doesn’t have to be forever.)
- What would you see if you shifted your focus? Would this view be more or less useful?
There’re no right or wrong answers to these questions. They’re just a few prompts to inspire you to pay attention to what you’re looking at in order to contemplate whether what you’re paying attention to is actually what you should be paying attention to. Your perspective is often up to you, and you often (almost always!) have the power to shift it if you want to. But you can only shift it if you’re aware of it. Awareness is the first step, so, this week, pay attention. Look out your window. Notice your screen. Notice your sky.