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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Perspectives -- Everyone Has One

Perspective may be defined as "a mental view or outlook." People's  perspectives can be further understood when the following parts of the definition are considered:

1. The relationship of aspects of a subject to each other and to a whole: a perspective of history; a need to view the problem in the proper perspective.

2. Subjective evaluation of relative significance; a point of view: the perspective of the displaced homemaker.

3. The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance: tried to keep my perspective throughout the crisis.

But, how do people typically develop their perspectives?

Internet marketing and advertising specialist Kristen Bevilacqua states, "Our attitudes begin to develop in childhood before we are aware of opinions and choices. They are constantly evolving and changing. With each new event in life, we internally evaluate, and potentially alter, our own attitude in relation to those new relationships and experiences." ("How Do People Develop Their Attitudes,", 2010)

From our very first experiences with parents and peers, we evaluate experiences and develop positive and negative attitudes from evaluating these encounters. The more successes and failures we experience, the more situations we have to evaluate against each other. We may learn that outcomes are directly related to reactions and attitudes by looking at different situations. We soak up experiences from our environments.

We also witness other people's attitudes and make choices to imitate or avoid their examples. For example, a child may discover that her teacher has a different attitude toward books than her parents and may decide to favor that attitude. The acts of evaluating opposing behaviors and learning by imitation from those who influence us remain part of our continuing education about perspective.

To choose a broader perspective, we choose a value system and, unavoidably, an associated belief system. Let's say we are interested in business. When we look at issues through a business perspective, we are looking at a monetary base values system and beliefs. The problem of viewing something objectively relates to the bias people develop due to their positions, their experiences, their educations, and their various other experiences and influences.

Suffice it to say, no two people's perspectives are exactly alike. We tend to allow our perspectives to sway with pressures from without or from within. Peer pressure is a powerful molder of perspective as is pain. One is exerted mainly from without while the other may begin from within. Both lend experience to our perspectives and ultimate reactions. Even fallacies such as following the crowd (bandwagon) causes deep personal perspective changes.

To believe our perspective is part of a singular view is usually a deadly exercise steeped in egotism. For one thing, most who stand rigidly behind a singular perspective never consider their opposition. Quickly dismissing other possible logical perspectives, they charge blindly into a fray holding onto their particular strong arguments without opening their eyes to a broader significance. They play the games of life without ever "scouting" the opposition, and often, the better prepared opposition "defeats" them with superior preparation.

And, to apply the old cliche' "Love is blind," we must be wary of thinking a proper perspective will always develop while we are in the midst of activity. How many couples just "know" they are prepared to be mated for life, get married, and then find themselves divorced and crying, "I never really knew him/her?" Emotions often blur our powers of perspective. Hormones and adrenaline can be very strong agents of deception in such cases. Looking back at decisions made through our emotions, we very often realize the value of "distance" (time, space) when considering developing a perspective.

Ideas For Perspective

Motivational speaker Jeff Keller says, "Too many people blow their problems way out of proportion, devoting precious mental energy to situations which do not carry "life or death" consequences. Virtually all of us will fall into this trap on occasion, but those who spend the least amount of time obsessing on trivial circumstances are likely to accomplish far more--and be happier in the process!" (, 2010)

Considering the obligation of one human to the whole of society, the subjective nature of  personal judgment, and the extreme nature of interrelationships linking important issues, we would do well to take stock of our own perspectives, take more time to reconsider and to digest them, and finally to rank them by importance in our daily lives. Then, we should be more prepared to commit ourselves to meaningful and logical actions.

“The suspicious believe everybody to be suspicious; the liar feels secure in the thought that he is not so foolish as to believe that there is such a phenomenon as a strictly truthful person; the envious see envy in every soul; the miser thinks everybody is eager to get his money;...and the abandoned sensualist looks upon the saint as a hypocrite.”  --James Allen
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