Raising the window shade to look again, I still could not see anything. First it was 15 minutes, then 30, and soon an hour had passed. There we sat waiting to begin our flight out of Washington and yet our plane had scarcely moved from the loading bridge. I could not recall a time where I had seen fog so dense, it was as if we were surrounded by billows of smoke. Finally the fog dissipated enough for the Captain to announce we would depart and I was hoping he could see more than I could. Taxiing along the runway then launching forward, we soon took flight. Climbing to 10,000 feet, then 20,000, we finally were cruising at nearly 40,000 feet. The view from that same window now presented a much different perspective; a clear blue sky and hardly any clouds could be seen.
This experience represents how perspective influences response to a situation. Nothing changed concerning the weather, but our perspective changed when we rose above it. Many times perspective becomes obscured by difficulties, interactions with negative people, or having a pessimistic attitude. While we cannot prevent every difficulty, we can control how we respond to it. We cannot transform the negative outlook others have but we do not have to be influenced by it. And of all these things, the one we have most power over is our own attitude. Our attitude is formed and shaped by our perspective. “Two men look out through the same bars, one sees the mud and one the stars” (F. Langbridge)
Perspective and Difficulty
When we are confronted by difficulty, regardless of its degree, the mind immediately formulates a response. The situation may be different but the response is typically consistent with our nature. As the density of the fog hindered visibility for flight, difficult times can hinder our vision. It’s hard to believe when everything is falling apart that a resolution is possible. Or at the least, it has an end. The day before posting this article, I was flying in a small non-commercial aircraft. As we began our descent, the pilot told me we would encounter turbulence very soon. Descending into clouds that had been below us, we now flew in a pattern that kept us surrounded by them. Visibility was zero. The pilot responded to my surprise by stating the instrumentation is what we were now relying on. When flying in zero visibility, a pilot cannot follow feelings or perspective. Spatial disorientation might cause them to feel they are going one way when they might be going another. When difficult times disorient us, our perspective can become our undoing. This is where the importance of positive (and higher) influences becomes most evident.
Perspective and Negative People
“Protect your spirit from contamination; limit your time with negative people.” – Thelma Davis
Naysayers, whiners, and skeptics are everywhere. These people walk among us criticizing and complaining about everything. Some of them do not even view “the glass as half empty”; they have a readymade presentation about the insufficiencies of the glass itself. They are trained well in the art of minimizing potential and maximizing limitation. These people have rallied associates for their cause as well; an alliance based on their ability to offer fear and anxiety. They see the dark side of things; citing chapter and verse on how pitiful things are. They see the worst in people and the worst in every situation. Avoid their toxicity; they should not be permitted the opportunity to distort your perspective.
Perspective and Attitude
Remember “Tough times don’t last but tough people do”. Once I have reached the other side of a trial, I know it helps to reflect on the perspective I had during it. I try to think about how I felt and how I was thinking when it started, then the same when it was over. This helps me to work toward attaining a proper perspective when the next trial arises. Proper perspective of the past helps to have a proper perspective of the future. On the flip side, I am reminded of material I used to teach anger management that used an allegory of “life views and windows of time”. The material created a metaphor of people standing before “windows of the past, present, and future”. Viewing life (and thus living it) from a window view of the past is not constructive. You cannot undo what has happened and regret will only create negative feelings for today. Living life from a window view of the future can create anxiety and stress. The material encouraged focus on living life from a window view of the present. We cannot change the past but the future is best prepared for by focusing on the present.
“It’s your attitude, not your aptitude that determines your altitude”. If you’ve ever heard Zig Ziglar speak, you probably have heard him say this!
What kind of perspective do you have? Where has it taken you? Or by contrast, what has it taken from you?
Seek a higher perspective and once you have attained it, seek a higher one than that.
Copyright © 2012 J.M. Cortés