In recent conversations that I’ve had, the topic of perspective has made an appearance more often than not – our own, of others and how that may impact behaviours or thoughts. I’ve shared the definition via a Google search below:
the art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other.
“the theory and practice of perspective”
the appearance of viewed objects with regard to their relative position, distance from the viewer, etc.
“a trick of perspective”
a view or prospect.
plural noun: perspectives
the relation of two figures in the same plane, such that pairs of corresponding points lie on concurrent lines, and corresponding lines meet in collinear points.
a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something; a point of view.
“most guidebook history is written from the editor’s perspective”
||outlook, view, viewpoint, point of view, standpoint, position, stand, stance, angle,slant, attitude, frame of mind, frame of reference, approach, way of looking/thinking,vantage point, interpretation
“her perspective on everything had been changing”
true understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion.
“we must keep a sense of perspective about what he’s done”
an apparent spatial distribution in perceived sound.
late Middle English (in the sense ‘optics’): from medieval Latin perspectiva (ars) ‘(science of) optics’, from perspect- ‘looked at closely’, from the verb perspicere, from per- ‘through’ + specere ‘to look’.
As a result, I thought I’d write a post exploring the definition given under 2.2 a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something; a point of view. In my discussions, it was interesting to note how one person can have a specific point of view but someone else in the same situation may look at it in an entirely different way. The best way I can describe it is this, if you hold up a two-sided piece of paper and the person who sees the front says they see a plain white page but the person who sees it from the other side says it is a lined white piece of paper – who is right? Well, both are correct according to their own perspective – this demonstrates how people can have disagreements, start fights/ wars and have different viewpoints on the exact same thing. This was the example that my husband and I used to explain the concept to our daughter in a way she could understand. We further explained that even if she and a friend were looking at exactly the same thing, they could see something totally different to each other…or they could be in agreement. It is all about perspective.
I’ve observed that our perspective may also change over time on various topics during the course of our lives. The perspective(s) we may have had when we were younger may be very different to the ones we have when we are older. It can also differ according to cultural, generational or life experience. Alternatively, it could also remain the same. One thing I have noticed is that as I get older, my perceptions are often challenged and can change as a result. When I become aware of another perspective – often one I might have never even considered, it tends to challenge the way I feel about things and broaden my thought processes. I feel that we grow as a person when we are challenged and taken outside of our comfort zone. I feel that growth is not possible when we remain stagnant. How often has your perspective been challenged or something has occurred which gave you a sense of awakening ie. an ‘a-ha’ moment? When that happens, you can never go back – can you? You can choose to ignore it but you can never unlearn what you have just realised.
There is an optical illusion that is 100 years old, I’ve shared it below. What did you see first – the rabbit or the duck? Can you switch from one to the other? Once you can see both, you cannot ‘unsee’ the images. This is my point on perspectives – once you see another perspective, you cannot go back to seeing only one.
The duck-rabbit drawing was first used by American psychologist Joseph Jastrow in 1899 to make the point that perception is not only what one sees but also a mental activity. Mr Jastrow’s research was based on how quickly one can see the second animal and how fast participants could change their perception of the drawing to switch between the two animals. The research suggested that the faster you can do this, the quicker your brain works and the more creative you are.
I feel that in order to Laugh, Love, Live to the full – it helps to be able to see more than one perspective. In previous posts, I have used a quote by Wayne Dwyer – “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. I find myself applying it more often now as I’m older (and hopefully wiser!) and especially when I often feel frustrated because of the differences between me and my husband (the male/ female gender divide)! When I stop and ponder how we have been brought up – in different environments, in different family situations and have had different life experiences – then it helps to broaden my perspective. It helps me to accept the decision I made to be with him and accept him as he is – just as he accepts me with all my flaws! I feel that looking at things from a different perspective helps us to understand another person’s viewpoint, which can result in greater empathy towards a person and their situation. This is a continual learning process for me which helps me to broaden my perspective.
Sometimes though, I admit that it is difficult to look at things from another person’s perspective – especially when you feel they may be attacking you personally or they are simply a negative person. The way you choose to react may also influence perspectives (although choosing to remain calm is sometimes the hardest thing to do when emotions become involved). Some people may argue that unless you crawl into the other person’s skin and walk around in their bodies and minds, then you can never fully understand their perspective. I feel this is true to an extent, although I feel that if you start looking at things from a different perspective, it could help you find a solution that you wouldn’t have thought of previously and/or face life’s challenges differently. It could also provide greater understanding and empathy for other people who could be facing a similar situation. The choice to have a narrow or broad perspective is entirely up to you – what will you decide? Life is funny, complex and challenging but I find that looking at things from a different perspective may definitely help – do you agree?