3 Ways to Gain Perspective

Man in business suit looking through telescope

Illustration by VectorKnight/Shutterstock

Tap into your wisdom to see the bigger picture.

Think of a person in your life who you consider to be wise. Now, imagine talking with that person about a problem you are having. Go ahead, think of a real problem. Tell the wise person about your problem—give him or her the details, the struggles and how you’ve handled it so far. Ask for ideas and advice. Pause and listen for the response. Imagine this as a back-and-forth conversation.

Believe it or not, scientists have found that this activity can boost your wisdom. What’s even more stunning is that an imagined conversation with a wise person is equal (in terms of a wisdom boost) to having a real-life conversation with a wise person!

Wisdom is found in all of us, not only the sages, gurus, spiritual masters and philosophers. Sure, we learn from the wise actions of Mohandas K. Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela. Yet you have more wisdom, or perspective strength, than you realize. The cliché of “look inward for the answers” happens to be true.

But, our wisdom is squashed or covered over by our daily routines, multitasking busyness and smart-phone distractions, not to mention our self-doubt and self-criticism. We don’t realize how much we know that we could apply. All the knowledge we have gathered, the insights we have learned and the life experiences we have shared are just below the surface, waiting for us to tap into and ignite the flame.

Ready to boost your strength of perspective or wisdom?

  • If you find yourself getting lost or disturbed by the latest news, such as political double talk and biased blaming and negativism, step away. Take a news fast from your TV and apps. This allows you to escape from the weeds and find solid ground. When you’re ready, slowly return to the news, starting with one source, and observe its effect on you.

  • If you find yourself getting overwhelmed by stress, use your perspective strength to see the big picture. It’s easy for pressures to build up and for stress to take over. Your perspective is an antidote to see both the forest and the trees.

  • If you find yourself in an argument with a loved one, try a science-backed strategy called perspective-taking. Just as you can try on a hat from a rival sports team, try on the viewpoint of your loved one. What is their argument? What’s their point of view? Their thoughts and feelings? Appreciate not just your side, but their side, too.

So, pause, take a deep breath and rediscover your inner wisdom!

RYAN M. NIEMIEC, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist, certified coach and education director of the VIA Institute on Character. His latest book is Character Strengths Interventions: A Field Guide for Practitioners. For more, visit viacharacter.org.

 

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