A perspective is a point of view or a particular way of considering something. As a character strength, perspective refers to the ability to think about something in a wise way. It is the ability to see the big picture in a way that makes sense and creates well-being. Perspective means seeing things clearly, as they actually are. People who are strong in this area are able to listen deeply to others and offer helpful feedback. Others often come to them for advice.
A wise King spoke to his minister:
“There is a big bird with a back the size of the earth and wings that could spread out into space. It soars high up into the heavens, looking like it could lift the sky clean off the earth. It sets its course far down south.”
Eavesdropping on the story, a quail by the bank of a marsh laughed and said, “Where could this bird be going? I can jump and land just a few short yards away. I run from bush to bush, as I go. Where could such a bird need to go with its long voyages in the sky?”
This, they say in China, is the difference between large and small. Some may hold office, rule a kingdom, lead a village, or rule a state. But they see as much as that quail.
What is the difference between how the big bird sees the world and how the quail sees things? Which perspective is more important? Are there benefits to both? Which ‘mode’ do we tend to use when looking at the world?
It is important to be able to be flexible in our perspectives. We must be able to focus on the small detail of what is in front of us, while also being capable of taking in the bigger picture. Discuss how you might widen your perspective to see the larger whole more often.
You can develop this ability by asking questions like: What is a wise way of looking at this? What am I missing? What am I not seeing? What is the bigger picture?
Imagine in your mind’s eye floating up above the earth into space. See if you can look from what is known as the ‘cosmic perspective’. This is viewing things from the point of view of the whole. Imagine seeing the whole of life unfold below you. Imagine the passing of time, seeing the world move through the ancient past into the future. You might see species and civilisations come and go. People coming and going. Seeing the whole world forever in a state of flux. Feel the broad sweep of time and vastness of space. See the earth as one small speck in space. Notice how it feels to observe from this perspective. Then return to where you are and notice if your perception of the world around you has changed.
Afterwards record in your journal whatever you experienced.