When we are lost in the middle of a chaotic, non-stop, falling apart kind of day, we can lose perspective on where we – as individuals – fit into the grand scheme of things. In those high-pressure moments the expansive, big-picture view constricts around our immediate needs to the point that we can really only see the world through the lens of “right now” and “me.”
We know that a burned dinner, a missed meeting, or our child’s incomplete homework is not a permanently life-altering situation, but sometimes we overreact to these small moments because we have briefly lost perspective. We feel restricted and under attack somehow. This survival mode, though helpful when running from imminent danger, is not healthy as a long-term strategy for a happy, rewarding life.
What we long for, in these moments of stress, is an understanding of how these disconnected moments might all make sense, a connection with the big picture, a bird’s eye view.
But how do we get that perspective?
Several years ago, working in a satisfying corporate job, I found myself ill at ease. Though by all accounts my life was successful, I was way-too-stressed, my robust health was starting to fail and my life outside my work felt adrift. Family, friends and co-workers felt similarly. It was time to find a new way to be and to ask a new question.
“How can I achieve and maintain healthy perspective in my day to day life?”
Though I have no superpower to fly above and see it all linked up, I feel like I’m closer to the answer. It involves realizing connection.
Let’s see how it feels to navigate this view of connection together.
We begin with our connection to our self.
Self Care = Current location.
You know how maddening it is when you want directions from the GPS, but it won’t pick up your “Current location”?
You can try to make up addresses that you think are close, but if you don’t know where you are and start on the wrong street or head the wrong direction, you can waste loads of time and energy and may never arrive where you want to go.
So often we focus on how to make things better for ourselves by trying to change what is going on outside of us before we even notice what is going on inside. That internal experience is the basis of how we feel and react to the world. Truly, taking good care of yourself is one of the most generous things you can do for your family, your friends, your community, our world.
Relationships and Families = In-town driving.
As you become more acquainted with the terrain of “Me,” you discover lots of routes and local roads to experience close-up connection. Spouses, parents, children, siblings – our close personal relationships make up a good portion of our lives. We travel these roads day in and day out. How we get to close relationship is a decision to make together. The “We” of these relationships requires flexibility, humor, and often patience – just like a family road trip. Where do we want to go? How do we want to get there?
Communities = Building networks.
As we move in the larger circles of community we raise the stakes and amplify our power. We are on the “highways” of connection now. Though working with the “We” in larger groups increases complexity, the skills we’ve built for ourselves and in our families really shine in wider human networks. We’ve seen time and time again the power of a group of people to change our world in great ways. When we feel connected and supported we are courageous and compassionate. There are no limits to what “We” can achieve.
Ecology = Living Infrastructure.
Once we experience the impact connection with other people provides, we can look at the world around us for more of these supportive networks. As individuals, families, and communities, we impact our ecology, and the reverse is true as well. Seeing ourselves as part of the living system of the natural world creates the opportunity to leverage our power and support the planet that supports our way of life. Reciprocity.
We begin see how the connections that began as understanding ourselves spiral outward into appreciating and being conscious about our relationship to the world around us.
Spirituality = Expansive Systems.
Here we will go “off the map”. For good reasons this is a realm of sparse description, but great wisdom and connection. These expansive systems of spirituality include all healthy ways we have found to connect us with the “something greater than ourselves” and to illuminate life’s deepest questions. It is inclusive. Once we’ve felt the resonance of “We” as a species and honor the power held in living in harmony with our planet we reach out to wider spheres which give more meaning and purpose to our day-to-day lives.
I now see our world as an earth-sized network, a sprawling, dynamic, superhighway system which spans human, animal, mineral – from earth’s atmosphere to the smallest bacteria.
This bird’s eye view can help us see our intricate connectedness, which allows us to feel less alone and more supported. Sometimes we might feel life as a singular “me”with solitary battles to be hard fought.
However, there is an expanding and nearly limitless network of “We” connections with partners, friends, co-workers, neighbors, community, local and regional ecosystems, and beyond that are available to us once we realize it is there.