Perspective. Here is what I (Paula) know to be true about my perspective. It’s my point of view. No one can take it away, and when I am open to hearing another’s point of view – there are amazing moments when my perspective actually expands. The more curious I get, the more I find is possible during those moments.
When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, her perspective, her point of view, was suddenly everywhere. There are two of her quotes that have been expanding my perspective every day since she passed. The first:
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.” And, the second:
“When I’m sometimes asked - when will there be enough women on the supreme court? & I say when there are nine, people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, & nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”
My instantaneous insight was this - I do not really grasp what true equality means. By simply letting her perspective in, mine has expanded and shifted.
Another’s perspective, their point of view (even one we ‘disagree with’) has the power to expand our thinking. Expand our perspective.
I have determined that I yearn for more perspective in the world today. I am noticing how often I see people instantly dismiss one another’s words, actions, opinions. . . and I wonder if we could each increase our ability to even consider another’s point of view, their perspective…how would our relationships be different, how would the world be different? What would be possible if we were intentional about considering each other’s perspectives? We don’t have to agree or disagree. What if we just let their perspective in. Spend a moment looking at the world, at a situation, through someone else’s eyes. What would be different?
Whether it is the football player that has taken a knee during the National Anthem - or not come out of the locker room at all, or Donald Trump walking through a crowd without a mask, or a family member who has just shared another somethin’-somethin’ on social media . . our reactions are based on data from our own lifetime of experiences and the ‘stories’ we make up to fill in the gaps.
The Brain at Work
We know that from a brain science perspective, there are two primary networks in our brains: our default network and our executive function network. The default network is our autopilot – our default habits based on our patterns of thinking and behaving that have been built by a lifetime of experiences. We dismiss or embrace from this place – and we are only half aware – if at all - that we are doing so. The second network in our brain is the executive function network. We make choices here, we solve problems, we consider ‘new’ information from this place. We are able to CHOOSE from this part of our brain. To slow down, to pause and consider a new perspective, a different point of view.
It takes work to bypass our default network. We must slow down long enough to think about our thinking. If we want to choose, to be intentional, to consider someone else’s perspective – we have to slow down enough to pay attention to our thinking – so that we can get curious about someone else’s.
Joseph Wood Krutch said, ‘The rare moment is not the moment when there is something worth looking at, but the moment when we are capable of seeing it.’
What if we paused and asked ourselves some powerful questions to explore just what we are capable of seeing?
When you are 95 years old, what will you want to say about your life?
What will you think about this situation 5 years from now?
In the bigger scheme of things, how important is this?
What else could be true?
And when you are ready to see the world through someone else’s eyes? Ask. . .
What do you imagine you will think about this situation 5 years from now?
What do you think and how do you feel about this?
What else could be true?
The power of perspective. Yours, mine and ours. As Doug Baldwin said, “The greatest tragedy for any human being is going through their entire lives believing the only perspective that matters is their own.”