PERSPECTIVE. This is a word I have heard and seen more in the last few days than I have at any other point in my life. But what does it mean? Perspective that is, not the amount of times I have encountered the word recently. Perspective is defined as a particular attitude toward or a way of regarding something; a point of view. In short, it is the way we process information; situations, words, actions, successes, failures, and so on and so forth. Now, what determines an individual’s perspective/view of events taking place in the world? I believe every single moment of a human being’s life ultimately shapes their perspective, opinions, thoughts, feelings and actions. If time is linear it would seem as though we can not reach the end point without first traversing through the infinite number of points created from the very birth of the line until now. That seems like the most logical thing in the world to me, but to some it might seem totally ridiculous. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and thoughts on any situation.
In my opinion, not being open to other views is like shutting yourself off from the world. I feel like those that choose to limit their intake of perspectives are limiting their world. It is as though they are sitting inside of a house and only looking out at the world through a keyhole in a door when they could simply open the door and see everything in front of them. This allows a person to experience a much larger amount of life and also allows them the opportunity to decide what to do with the information and experiences they go through; to see why they think this about that, or feel that about this. Will we all see from the same point of view all of the time? Certainly not. None of us share the same eyes therefore making it impossible to see things the exact same way.
Let me put this into perspective. I sit here in my apartment writing in a notebook given to me by a friend because she likes to read what I write. This will probably never be published, and I am definitely not getting paid for it. In the eyes of many I have just wasted a couple of hours of my life, ink from my pen, and the paper in this book. To me, even if my words can help only one person then every simple stroke of my pen upon this paper has been worth it. The funny thing is that simply by writing this I have helped me to gain a better understanding of myself and therefore every moment has been put to good use before another person even lays their eyes upon this.
Now my mind takes me to a question about why people seem so much more willing to apply themselves with physical development and enhancement rather than continuing to grow emotionally or mentally. I believe it is due to the fact that it is much easier for others to see you than to actually take the time or make the effort to get to know you. It is unfortunate that the ability to communicate with people we do not know seems to be a diminishing skill and an increasing fear amongst the masses. Has our society turned into one so extremely materialistic and superficial that people would rather endure the physical pain of cosmetic surgery than to take the time to enhance or reconstruct themselves internally? If this is the case then I feel like we are slipping further and further from the truth that inner beauty can last a lifetime while the external will eventually fade away. Another truth, in my opinion, is we, humans, need each other in order to live life to the fullest. How can we maximize our ability to assist in the progress of our civilization if we do not first take steps towards helping ourselves? I do not speak of self-help or undertaking mere physical endeavors. I speak of challenging ourselves throughout 100% of our being across all planes of existence.
One of the things I find to be particularly interesting when I reflect and look at the world is how very little a majority of people seem to understand what shapes their viewpoint. Perhaps I should rephrase. It amazes me how little effort the majority of people put into understanding why they think what they think or why they feel what they feel? Correct me if I am wrong here, but isn’t one of life’s ultimate seemingly unanswerable questions, “Why are we here?” I believe another one is, “How did we get here?” These things interest me greatly.
I believe there is a serious hurdle to jump before I dive headlong into the topic of understanding and being open to the perspective others may have. How can we really truly ever comprehend and understand the perspective of another human being, or any creature for that matter, if we do not first take the time to learn how we reached our point of view in the first place. Are you the type of person that takes responsibility for your internal goings on or do you prefer to blame others? “Ted made me sad.” Did Ted make you feel sad or are you sad as a result of Ted’s actions not falling in line with the version of an optimal reality you created in your mind prior to him not asking you on a date that night?
Have you ever watched a movie and only seen the final 10 minutes? When this has happened you’re probably pretty confused. If questioned about the film you would have little to no idea how the old man ended up with a 22-year-old wife and 5 billion dollars in his bank account. When it comes to a movie you might not give a shit about how or why that happened. I mean, it’s a movie. What about your thoughts and feelings though? Do you ever take a moment to ask yourself how you created those thoughts or why you have those particular feelings?
Time to dig a little bit deeper into the topic of self-awareness and understanding of us. Like any good challenge the task of becoming honest with ourselves about thoughts, feelings, and such will not be without obstacles. The largest obstacle of all is our EGO. The way we want people to view us. Sometimes we fall into some bad habits in life. One of the most dangerous, in my experience is the creation of a person for the outside world different from our true self. This created an inordinate amount of internal conflict for me in the past. I was so busy trying to be what I thought I should be for everyone else that I would often make choices that went against my gut and initial intuition. I suppose I did it to maintain appearances. I did it so that people would like me. The thing was, I got so caught up in the mix of trying to get everyone else to like me that I wasn’t doing what it took to be happy with myself. I continuously made little compromises in order to please those around me. The worst thing I could compromise was the truth, and I did that often. I did it about trivial things. I will give one simple example here by sharing a personal experience with a type of compromise in order to relate to you more effectively. Early in my career as a personal trainer at 24Hr Fitness I cared far more about drinking and partying with my friends than I did about any of my clients. I was selfish and I was not committed to my work. I had only recently gotten out of the Army and I believe I was more focused on living the part of my life I felt I had missed out on with my friends that I had hardly seen over the last few years. I would find just about any excuse to cancel appointments with clients in order to go out on the town with my friends. The thing is, I would never tell them the truth about why I was cancelling. I recall a particular day in the summer of 2008 when I had cancelled my appointments in order to drink beer and watch soccer with my friends at Buffalo Wild Wings. I never really felt right when I did things like that, but I kept doing it because I didn’t want to get shit from my friends if I missed out on fun things. On the particular day I just mentioned I had actually forgotten to cancel on one of my clients. She called me on my cell phone while I was at the bar. I didn’t recognize the phone number and I answered the call. The caller said “Hey Josh, where are you right now?” I was drunk already and answered with, “At Buffalo Wild Wings. Where are you?” Obviously my client was not too happy with that response being that she was at the gym waiting for our 3pm appointment and me. Going against my gut in a simple situation like that created several more uncomfortable conversations and situations for me. That particular client no longer wanted to train with me and I nearly lost my job. All of that could have been avoided if I had simply done what I knew was right. Did I have to lie to my clients in order to go drink with my friends? Did I have to compromise my job simply because I didn’t want to get messed with by my buds? No, but at the time I chose to because I wasn’t concerned with what was in my best interest. I was so busy compromising in order to please others that I compromised my integrity and character in the process. This is only one instance in which I compromised the truth. There are far too many others to recount in this one short essay. I suppose some of this happened as a result of my insecurities and a lack of personal strength. I lacked the strength to be honest with others at the time. Not only that, I lacked the strength to be honest with myself. I had yet to develop an understanding of why I made the decisions I was making or felt certain things that I felt.
It would appear as though I have fallen into sharing my perspective, but I think that is what this is all about. Sharing perspective on perspective knowing all along there are roughly 7 billion other possible perspectives about what I have spent this time writing about.
Looking back, several years later, I guess I just wasn’t ready to understand yet. Apparently I had to dig a deep enough hole to truly decide I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I dug that hole with negative thoughts, negative words, and negative actions, but I didn’t believe I was a negative character. One day I decided, just like that, it was time to change. Instead of procrastinating and waiting around for a force to change me I decided to become the force and change myself. I started to behave like the person I wanted me to be instead of the person I thought I had to be or felt certain people wanted me to be. It is a challenge indeed, but pursuing my own development and progress as a human being has been one of the most worthwhile adventures I have ever gone on. I know that my work will never be done and I will constantly search for ways to improve mentally, emotionally, and physically every single day. Those three realms are connected and I do not believe we can truly fulfill our potential in one aspect without simultaneously working to improve the others. The more honest I became with myself the better I understood myself and the more honest and understanding I felt I could be with others.
Do you see what I am getting at here? Why don’t most people take the time to understand what has shaped their own perspective? Are they too caught up with school, work, and entertainment? Or is it simply because the vast majority have never been taught the skill of how to understand themselves? I think a larger issue that has presented itself to me in the last several years seems to be that many people have no interest in understanding themselves. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes honesty, pure, un-cut honesty. You know what they say; “the truth hurts,” and most of us do not like pain, emotional or physical. Conversely, society has developed the saying, “pain is weakness leaving the body.” Most of the time I see it used in reference to physical pain, but I think that is simply because most people are unwilling to put in the effort to apply it when it comes to progress emotionally, character development, and mental capacity.
Please allow me to take my perspective on perspective one step further. I know what it is like to go days on end without sleep. I experienced that many times when I was an Airborne Ranger. What do you think my thoughts are when someone complains to me about a 12-hour workday or being stuck in traffic? My thoughts are not those of disdain, but those of belief in you. Belief that if you change the way you view that day then it will seem as though it is more pleasurable than painful. The thing however that has helped my perspective the most when it comes to “challenges,” is knowing that there will always be people out there climbing a steeper mountain, traversing greater obstacles, and doing more with less than you or I ever have. Those thoughts help me to stay centered and I believe they can help you too. I can’t imagine what my Ranger Buddy Cory Remsburg would say to me if he ever heard me complain about any aspect of my life. Cory was basically blown up on October 1st, 2009 in Afghanistan. He was in a coma for nearly 4 months and was never supposed to wake up. But he did anyway. The doctors told him that he would never talk, walk, or really live a normal life again. 6 months after he awoke from the coma he was talking. Undergoing several hours of grueling rehab and physical therapy each day over the years he speaks more clearly and can walk on his own. PERSPECTIVE. What do I know about a challenge? I have never had to come back from the dead and learn how to live again. Do I know about challenges? Yes. More than many, but less than some. This is why I love the power of perspective, because when you understand how you got to the point you are at it makes it a lot easier to sympathize, empathize, and connect with others in order to see how they arrived at their point of view. I’m not always right and I’m not always wrong, but I will always love people and I will always believe in their potential to utilize the tool of perspective in order to mold any obstacle in their path into a sign helping to point them in the right direction.
The Law of Inertia states that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. I mention this because the way I see it we are the objects. Not just our bodies, but our minds and our hearts as well. The thing separating us is that we as objects have all of the power to change our state of being at any given moment. We decide when we make the change from being an object at rest to becoming an object in motion. We decide at what speed we move. Will there constantly be external factors applying force that can potentially change our speed, direction, and overall state of being? Yes. Always. The unbelievably incredible fact is that based upon the way we see the world we have the power to manipulate that force and flow with it. I think one of the most heartbreaking things in the world is when people feel like they have to be sad, angry, jealous, selfish, petty, and any negative act or emotion you can think of. The funny thing is that none of those words would exist without their opposites. We would not have sad without happy, angry without calm, jealous without trusting, selfish without selfless, and petty without kind. What would happen if you thought of your emotional states as light switches? Simply flicking them on and off. Obviously it won’t always happen immediately. Sometimes it will take a little more time to flick the switch than others, occasionally if it is off it will be difficult to find, but eventually it will happen when the time is right. The sparks will fly and the bulb will turn on illuminating whatever it is you want to see.
Life as we know it is an incredible journey. There are infinite ups, downs, good times, and bad. The past will always exist in our minds and can hold us back if we allow it to. The future will never be definite as even the best-laid plans can collapse and slip away. The one thing that we can ultimately control is our mind and how we use it. It is the most powerful tool that we have and I believe we can maximize its effectiveness by understanding how to focus on the present moment. That is when we can truly decide how we perceive the world. Memories of past moments are tools that we can use to empower us in the present or break us down. Stressing about the future can be extremely harmful to our ability to live in the present. However, we can use that awareness that the future will eventually arrive to make decisions in the present to create the best possible future.
These could simply be illogical ramblings and nonsense to some, but all of these words thrown together like this seem to make sense to me. It is my hope they will make sense to you and have a positive impact on the way you perceive the world. I desire nothing more than to help everyone I come in contact with in some small way, shape, or form. I want to live the highest quality of life I can, and affect the lives of others with the quality of my words and actions. As long I can maintain a high quality of life, the quantity will not matter. The world is a beautiful place. I am aware of the ugly parts of it, but I make the choice to look past them in order to see the great potential of humanity. How do you see the world? How do you see yourself? Why?