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“To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture.”
― Summer Sanders, Olympic gold medalist
Have you ever been to a memorial service and heard yourself or others say: “This really puts things in perspective”? Usually, what is meant by this statement is instead of “being caught in the rat race” or “sweating over the little stuff,” it’s far more meaningful to focus on the most critical priorities in life. You may leave the service with a sense of heightened awareness (wisdom) before gradually falling back to hecticness.
Instead of letting your higher wisdom fade away, why not keep it in mind more often? In life, we’re often bothered by many “little things” and don’t realize their insignificance in the greater scheme. Most of what annoys us won’t even be remembered hours, days, or weeks later. Instead of dwelling on minor incidents and letting them ruin your day, consider the big picture, and allow your broader, wiser perspective to shape your outlook.
Psychological benefits of viewing the issue from a larger perspective include:
- Leveraging a wiser sense of priority (larger context) in almost any situation.
- Establishing realistic expectations to reduce frustrations and disappointments.
- Separating yourself from an upset by creating mental and emotional distance.
- Shifting your focus from disempowerment to empowerment.
The following exercise is a simple method to help you embrace the big picture. When a relatively minor issue heightens your sensitivity, take a deep breath and say one or more of the following sentence completions to yourself:
“What’s most important now is.…”
“On the positive side….”
“In the larger scheme of things….”
Importantly, whenever possible and appropriate, leverage time as your ally. Rather than reacting impulsively (which is often not in your best interest), take mindful breaths and allow some time to pass. In problem-solving scenarios, carefully weigh the pros and cons of your options before making a well-considered decision.
Incident: Annoyed with a friend not returning a text right away.
Big picture response #1: “At least I have a good friend with whom I can keep in touch. Maybe she’s busy right now.”
Big picture response #2: “Actually, I’m already scheduled to meet my friend for lunch this weekend. I’ll catch up with her then.”
Incident: Bothered by poor customer service.
Big picture response #1: “What’s most important now is that I talk with a different representative or a manager. If I explain my situation calmly and clearly, there’s a good chance I will receive better customer service.”
Big picture response #2: “On the positive side, customers have a lot of power. If I don’t like the service, I can take my business elsewhere.”
Incident: Upset by challenges at work.
Big picture response #1: “At least I have a job that provides security.”
Big picture response #2: “What’s important now is that I play it cool and handle things as they come. I will move on to the next stage of my career when I’m ready.”
Big picture response #3: “In the larger scheme of things, these work issues mean very little. I will keep myself healthy and focus on supporting my family.”
When answered mindfully, these sentence completions offer a powerful internal locus of control – that you are in charge of your mind, spirit, and actions. You, not your circumstances, are the master of your life’s experience.
For more tips on how to let go of negative thoughts and emotions, see references below.
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