The power of perspective

The more I grow up, the wider my perspective seems to get. Like a camera lens that re-focuses from a narrowly defined macro shot out to a wider-angled view of life.

In my naïveté, I used to take a my-way-is-the-highway approach to everything, sharing opinions from soap boxes in my relationships and in my writing. And even now seeing life through a broad lens doesn’t come naturally to me.

I still have strong opinions and convictions on certain issues; I’m not afraid of absolutes. But time and life experience have helped me to develop the wisdom to learn to try to share my opinions with grace and love.

As I move through life I’m learning to intentionally allow things into my life that will grow my perspective in the gray areas. And let’s be honest, a lot of life is gray.

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Recently, I took a part-time job, just for a few months. I’ve essentially been a stay-at-home-mom for over eight years, so this was a huge shift for me. I was only gone three hours a day, four days a week, but it was plenty to give me a little perspective, a little glimpse of what it’s like to be a working mama.

I had the privilege of joining the ranks (on a small scale) of parents who leave their children in someone else’s care, who juggle the cares of both inside- and outside-the-home issues. Working a little has also given me the perspective of gratitude for the fact that I’m able to stay home if I want to, something I’m sure I’ve been taking for granted most days.

We inarguably consume a lot of media these days in our culture. One of the beautiful things about media is how eye-opening it is to the world around us. And since the world is always changing, my perspective too has to evolve as I consume media.

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Here are a few forms of media that have helped me harness the power of perspective.

Memoirs— the personal memoir has become one of my favorite genres to read, because they are just that: personal. And as Kathleen Kelly says, “Whatever anything else is, it has to start by being personal.” We step into someone else’s shoes and see the road they’ve walked– real, living, breathing people who have a true story to tell. Memoirs entertain me, but I find that there’s also always something to learn from someone else’s experiences.

Portraits that tell a story— these are like mini-memoirs themselves, that at our core, move us. This, I believe, is why millions of people have been wooed by the power of the Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton. He has opened our eyes to the beauty in the lives of ordinary people. His Facebook page says that HONY “provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City.” I love that.

Instagram— I’m a fairly visual person, so it’s no surprise that IG is my favorite form of social media. Some of whom I follow are accounts that simply showcase the pretty in life, but the majority of the people I follow are real. They’re authentic. Many of them are different than me, live in different parts of the country or the world, and have opened my eyes to what life is like for another person, another family, another homeschooler, another reader, etc., etc.

There’s a lot of heartbreak in the world, but there’s also a lot of beauty. Let’s step back, widen the lens, and see how we can grow, be moved, be educated, be changed by those around us.

Where do you go for a dose of perspective? Share in the comments so we can continue to enlighten each other.

25 Comments

  1. Kizzy

    Great post and I think as we grow our perspective does shift and can either extend or narrow. I’m like you and mine has expanded but I do know peoples whose has narrowed dramatically too. I share many of the same mediums to gain perspective but I also like to take in the real life aspect as well by watching and learning from those around me.

    • Nicole Bennett

      You’re right, some people experience the narrowing effect as they grow older! Hopefully, being mindful of this will keep the rest of us on the right path. 🙂

  2. katy

    The world is mostly gray and I am finding as I get older more people only see it black or white. Grace and kindness is needed when presenting a differing point of view. Thanks for today’s post!

    • Nicole Bennett

      Thanks for your kind words, Katy!

  3. Joselyn @ MeaningfulRemnants

    Love this! Personal evolution is so exciting! My dose of perspective comes from the everyday; indulging in life’s tiniest moments with present moment intentions – a face to face conversation instead of a text, a smile instead of an emoticon, creating in the absence of a digital technology.

    • Nicole Bennett

      Those are great ways to expand your perspective!

  4. KNC

    I’m sending this to my mom. She just recently made the same change from stay-at-home supermom to part-time job WHILE still doing what she did before. I’m too young to have the same perspective on life as you and some of the other commenters, but it reminds me that the world is big and grey (as you put it) and that I should always try to find the beauty and be the positive in the world.

    • Nicole Bennett

      You certainly seem to have a mature perspective at this point in your life to me! 😉 xoxo

  5. Betsy

    Share your opinions with grace and love. What a beautiful statement. With the upcoming presidential election I have been in situations recently where people insulted other points of view. It’s demeaning and doesn’t show respect. When did it become ok for one person’s opinion to be less valid? Bring back respect.

    • Nicole Bennett

      Amen to that, Betsy. Bring back respect is right.

  6. Wendy

    Everywhere I go I continually remind myself that I have no idea about anyone else’s circumstances or how they feel regardless of them. I do my best to shut my judgement up, from the homeless person at the light that I give money to, and to the moms at the preschool my kids attend that seem to have it all together. They at out together happy in their athleisure, their cars are nice and clean and probably they put far more effort into what their kids wear than I do. But I have no idea what they really think or feel. Or what they think about me. But the important part is that it truly doesn’t matter at all. If I find myself listing whatever I think they could do or wear or whatever differently in my mind I make myself find something good about them, in that line of thinking, and then I make a nice long list of my negatives. Super easy. Since I know myself.

    • Nicole Bennett

      It’s always good to check ourselves when we catch ourselves looking at others. Wise words, Wendy!

  7. Kathy

    For my dose of perspective, I enjoy talking with people who have different goals and mindsets than me. As a dietitian, yoga instructor, and vegan who has too many hobbies, I love meeting people who challenge the things I do and say. Not only does this help me to grow my beliefs and as a person, but it also is a nice reminder that not everyone sees the world as I do. That is one beautiful thing about humans; we are all so different! Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes can be life changing and so empowering, instilling our thoughts with a new found empathy that only sharing stories can induce. Thank you for this post!

    • Nicole Bennett

      Thank you for adding your insightful words here, Kathy! xo

  8. Jen JLN

    This article is wonderful and thought-provoking, and I appreciate the message. The photo, while beautiful and offering an impressive wide-angle view that illustrates the point the words are making, shows the perspective of someone on a social trail rather than a designated trail and demonstrates how hundreds or thousands of people have caused stress and lasting change on a protected space, doing this in the hopes of improving their perspective without regard to the world around them.

  9. Linda Sand

    Living for a few years in a motorhome put me in touch with people living in very expensive RVs to those who live in vans they can’t afford to furnish with anything more than the absolute basics. We all shared the same beautiful sunsets.

    • Nicole Bennett

      “We all shared the same beautiful sunsets.”—-> I love that perspective, Linda!!

  10. Bibi Estlund

    I’m like you. I was raised by a father who sees things very black and white. And that was passed on to me. I remember an argument with my, then fiancé, now husband of nearly ten years. He said that I needed to find the shades of gray in the world. I took it to heart. I continue to do so, many times with his help.

    • Nicole Bennett

      It’s so good when we have people come alongside us and help us see things from a broader viewpoint.

  11. Beth

    A big way to gain perspective is to volunteer somewhere helping people that are different from you. The longer you spend doing that the more you realize there are different ways to look at things (some good, some bad, some just different.) I live overseas which definitely challenges my “ways of doing things” but even before I had visited a different country my parents and grandparents made it a point to expose us to other’s needs. We volunteered in a soup kitchen, went on a domestic missions trip, painted a house for a Children’s Home organization. In college I worked at a shelter for kids and teens pulled out of their parents’ homes because their parents had been arrested (try showing a 14 year old with a 9 month baby what love really is!) When I graduated my closest friend at work asked me how we could even be friends, let alone really good friends. I was white and from a conservative farm town and a very solid family. She was a different race, a single mom, and a past drug user with a lousy ex-boyfriend who kept causing problems. I largely credit our ability to “bridge the divide” to God’s grace and my parents commitment to provide us a safe but not sheltered home to grow up in.

    • Nicole Bennett

      Loved reading your story and experience, Beth! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Elizabeth

    A great book I just read gave me a lot of perspective – Jane Smiley’s “Some Luck”. I highly recommend it! It gave me a lot of perspective on modern life.

  13. Vanessa

    I love Instagram accounts of reality. I started unfollowing all the styled ones because they all started to look the same to me.

    • Nicole Bennett

      Yes! Seeing the beauty in “reality” really appeals to me, too.

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