December 20, 2019
Steve Andreas (1935–2018) was an author and leader in the world of NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programming. One of his sayings was,
“The larger the perspective, the smaller the issue.”
There are three ways to change perspective on a person, place, thing, or experience. One way is to change the point of view. Another way is to change the category in your mind in which you’ve placed an experience, typically the ‘good' or ‘bad' category. The third way is to change the scope of space and time. Let’s do the scope one for a second.
If you watch the short video below you will see it begins with a fly that blessed me one day by being still so I could take its photograph. Let’s change the scope of space. Notice how that fly becomes tinier and tinier. As we zoom out, a bigger picture might allow us to focus on what could be more relevant or of higher value.
Let’s change the time now. Taking the fly photo took me all of 10 seconds. If I added one second before and after that brief stint of time, the fly would have occupied just about my entire attention and experience in 12 seconds. The fly and everything around it then was paramount, relatively speaking. If I added more and more time, stretching the timeline into the time it may have taken to live your life so far, that fly becomes unimaginably infinitesimal.
The scope of space and time, and the ability to change it in one's mind, gives one perspective and choice about that perspective. What if the secret to a happy life full of peace is having the ability to choose, create, and change our own experiences?
Space. If that fly had been labeled a problem or an issue of some sort, then seeing it within a larger perspective minimalizes the assigned negative emotional meaning that I had given it. If that fly represented something of value that I wanted to keep ongoing – such as joy and happiness – I could immerse myself back in my experience of the fly on the grass stalk, remembering how I tried to see into its reddish opaque eyes, and further wonder about the life of a fly.
Time. Shrinking my imagined timeline and focusing on the joy I discovered in that fly, helps me stay in that state of joy and happiness. The lyrics from Joni Mitchell’s “If” captures this in the line,
"If you can fill the journey of a minute with sixty seconds worth of wonder and delight, then the Earth is yours and Everything that's in it …."
Also with regard to Time, extending a timeframe to infinity greatly diminishes any negative attribute I may have assigned to my experience of the fly. As in, maybe because it lasted a nanosecond relative to everything else it was harmless after all.
How might you leave behind being a victim of your experiences when you can change them by changing your perspective of them? Detailed? Big picture? If you are succeeding at this, you will feel a deep sense of joy and an increased happiness, rather than feeling numb or enervated.