Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Importance of Perspective.

Perspective is an odd thing. I can't quite get my head around the fact that every person has a different outlook on life: all tied loosely together by a vaguely similar view. Our individual outlook on life is shaped and moulded by our experiences: past and present, but innately emitting a sense of self confidence. There are hundreds of possibilities, but somewhere, tucked away under folds of flesh and emotion lies the reason behind our chosen course of perspective. The reason why we settled on viewing life under that particular filter.

Friedrich Nietzche, a German philosopher of the late 19th century who challenged the ideas surrounding traditional morality once said that, “There are no facts, only interpretations.”. The world, quite simply, is exactly what we want it to be.

When people look out of a window, they choose what they want to see. They choose to see the nice things: children playing or families laughing over a shared joke. But they filter out the unhappy images: the poor homeless man sitting on the kerb, the lonely teenager wandering around. I like to think of the window analogy as an extended metaphor for the generalised actions of humanity.

When you look at things, you constantly filter out the bad and focus on the positives, because you do not want your thoughts to be tainted with negative images. It all swings in roundabouts back to the "If you don't like it, don't look" attitude infiltrating society these days.

Perspective is unique to everybody. But no matter your perspective, it is important because it allows you to see exactly what you want to see. In other words, what makes you happy. Then again, is our perspective framed by what society teaches us? 

Our happiness is moulded by the ideas that society sets. We are made happy by the things we have been taught are stereotypically 'good'. Money? Assets? Looks? What makes you happy? Has this been heavily influenced by society?

But the fundamental connotation I associate with perception is the idea of re-framing things. What you see in your minds eye is your own frame. You look through this frame at exactly what you want to see, and filter out everything that is not in your frame. And each persons frame is different.

However, if you were to adopt a new perspective, you are essentially adopting a new frame. Literally looking through the eyes of somebody else could open up so many opportunities and hidden traits. You only know what you know until you seek more. This versatile nature of thoughts is considerably lacking in society.

Despite this, having an element of control remains the focus of perspective. You, having your own, original perspective have control over what exactly you choose to percept things as. It's all down to you. And I suppose this is why humanity has evolved into different mindsets: because different perspectives reflect different people.

An education to a teenager in Africa is the most valuable thing in their life. A education to a teenager in the UK is most likely considered the worst thing in their life. This 'thing' - education, is exactly the same. But what is different about the two is the perspective.

Perspective may be even closer to home than Africa though. An idea that's embedded itself into my mind is that everybody's individual perspective of colours is potentially different. How do you know that the colour I see as pink, is exactly the same colour that you see as pink? I might see that colour as your green, but I have been taught that it is called pink, and vice versa.

At the end of the day, what happens in life is cemented, but how we respond to it is entirely up to us. You may have been dealt a bad hand of cards, but just think of it as motivation to keep on striving to improve and prove everyone wrong. Problems are only problems as long as you let them be. If you set fire to this attitude and embrace every single thing - bad or good in your life, I assure you that you'll be better off. Is it worth being angry over the person who bumped into you with their buggy, when innocent children across the world in Gaza are being slaughtered in the name of peace: a currency of war? 

The news flickering on with the latest images of conflict are anonymous headlines to me. Mere things that I lack empathy for and just accept because everybody is going on with their lives like normal. But why? Why as a society do we only widen our frames of view to the things happening around us - or those things directly related to us? Why do we dismiss things so easily, brushing them away with the crumbs left on our plates from our breakfasts as turn off the morning news flashing with the latest horrors of reality? Is it really that easy to dissipate these things that do not concern us? 

Our avoidance stems from fear. Our perspective winds around our own fearing of fear. Our perspective: we can't change this, because its miles and miles away. 

Did your world come metaphorically crashing down the moment when flight MH17 literally came crashing down? Did you send of a moment of thought for the families of those involved? Or did you turn off the news mid-broadcast because it was time for you to go upstairs and get ready because otherwise you would be late to work? 

We simply take life for granted. Life is ambiguous, but despite our tangled haze of thoughts belonging to questioning the future, we carry on living each day as though we have infinite days left. The truth? We don't.

Humans are simply incapable of widening their perspective to account for every grief and horror of the gravity of each situation. Because they are not happening to us. Hence our innate sense of ignorance takes over, and we might share a concerned thought or discuss it with family and friends over a coffee. But we're not there. We're not sitting surrounded by 'I'm sorry for your loss' cards and pieces of our shattered heart floating in the ashes of our lost ones. We're sitting there, on comfy chairs and immersed in a warm, homely environment. We might mention 'oh my god, how terrible', but ten minutes later we will be laughing and joking over a video on Facebook.

I cannot stress the importance of perspective. If everybody were to widen their frame and account for things outside of their own bubble, then maybe the world would be a better place. 

Step back. Shut off everything: all of those small thoughts surfing around on your brain cells and your natural instinct. Open your eyes. Truly open them. Not just opened to what you want to see, but to everything. All of the little flaws of society and flaws of yourself. It's important to look at everything through a wider pair of binoculars and step away from your own self-absorbed bubble for moments at a time. Immerse yourself in doing whatever simply feels right. Look out of the window with a completely re-invigorated mindset and choose the world in all of its flaws, its imperfections and its problems. 

What are your thoughts on perspective?

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