Gaining perspective allows understanding and tolerance, and it empowers us with more free will over our own thoughts and actions. We can gain perspective when we have learned, thought of, or experienced something that challenges our existing beliefs. If we are open-minded and honest with ourselves, we begin to see things in a new way, and we can allow ourselves to change.
Perhaps you realize your family is more important than work, so you start spending more time at home… or that life is short, so you start living life to its fullest.
Alternatively, we can choose NOT to seek out new information, or to make excuses to ignore information. For example:
- My friends told me that the chemicals in Diet Coke are addictive and cause disease. I chose to ignore that information with a faulty excuse that I “needed” Diet Coke to keep me alert and to keep my weight down.
- I learned that people in China made my products basically as modern-day slaves. I also knew that the environment was suffering due to the rate of consumption. However, I still continually bought stuff because I convinced myself I “needed” it.
- I allowed the food industry to fool me into thinking that Subway sandwiches, low-fat frozen meals, and fat-free cookies were going to make me thinner and healthier. A little rational Plibby in the back of my head knew the truth, but I suppressed her. I ate processed food for 40 years. I even ate the Frankenfood at McDonald’s!
WHY was I denying the truth and making excuses? Because I was in a comfortable routine, and because the status quo was “just fine.” I was not being honest with myself!
In the past few years, I have been seeking a deeper understanding of myself and the world. I travel, take long breaks from my routine, meditate and ponder, read and watch non-fiction and science fiction, and have meaningful conversations with others to gain and share ideas and experiences. These activities have helped me accept and process new information with increasing speed. Most importantly, I now tend to ACT more quickly based on my broader perspective and a renewed sense of personal responsibility. For example:
- A few years ago I decided to cut down on my Diet Coke consumption because I knew I was drinking too much daily (4-8 cans). When I cut back to just 1-2 per day, I was nauseous and had migraines for 6 months. That level of addiction made me realize how powerful the chemicals are. 4 years later, and I’m still soda-free.
- Last year after watching several documentaries, I realized what excessive consumerism is doing to society and environment. I made the decision to become a true minimalist. I gave up most of my belongings, and now everything I own fits in one suitcase and a backpack. (See my blog post Waking Up from the American Dream)
- This summer I learned everything I could about nutrition and food. I realized that most of what I thought I knew about healthy eating was from food companies and the government, entities who care more about corporate profit than people’s health. My research helped me wake up to the truth, and now I am finally healthy! I went from eating meat and processed food to eating only a whole food, plant-based diet for the rest of my life. (See my blog posts Loving the Food that Loves Me Back, My Food Manifesto, and Eating for Nutrition)
For the ultimate perspective, Carl Sagan describes our ride on the pale blue dot:
I love this journey to being genuinely true to myself and to the world. I am looking forward to continued growth!