“Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life.” Joni Eareckson Tada
The story of an Italian-American World War II POW featured in a 2014 film, Unbroken, portrayed the resilience of the human spirit shaped by perspective. Louis Zamperini was from a poor family and he was a troubled teenager. He didn’t speak English, which made him a target of bullies in school. His older brother Pete, had him join his high school athletics’ team to prevent him from being a rebel. In 1936 Louie qualified for the Summer Olympics in Berlin. Towards the final few laps of the 5000-meters contest, Louie was straggling behind other runners when he remembered, “A moment of pain is worth a lifetime of glory” a statement told by his brother during training. This instantaneously transformed his perspective of the race, which drove him to push himself in the final lap, running it in a spectacular 56 seconds, an Olympic record that stood for decades.
After the Olympics, Louis enlisted in the US Army Air Corps during the Second World War in 1941. He was deployed to the Pacific frontier, assigned on a B-24 bomber. During a search and rescue mission, their airplane experienced mechanical difficulties and crashed into the Pacific Ocean killing all but three crew members. Louis was among the survivors. After 47 days of drifting in the open ocean, Zamperini and a fellow survivor were captured by the Japanese Navy and transferred to POW prison camps where they were starved, tormented, and tortured. To survive prison cruelty, a shift in perspective marked by the words, “If you can take it you can make it” uplifted his spirit and birthed in him great resilience that kept him unbroken until the war was over.
Whether I am watching the trees slowly swing on a breezy day through the windows of my office or standing by a beach on a vacation observing the waves crashing on the shores, I am always amazed by the force of the wind. When I see the leaves get piled up on a windy Fall day or the devastation brought by a twister, I marvel at the power of the unseen wind. I wonder, if the wind that’s unseen can cause such a significant effect on the external environment, what unseen forces affect who I am? I believe that wind is a constant reminder of the power of the unseen forces that act in our lives. In this series of blogs, we have been looking at perspective. I believe that one of the major unseen forces that shapes our lives is perspective. Like the wind, your perspective is powerful. It has the power to shape your life. In today’s post, we will examine three major areas where the unseen force of perspective is exerted: your posture, your relationships, and your fulfilment in life.
After the crash, Louis and two of his surviving crewmates, Russell Phillips and Francis McNamara found themselves trying to survive on an inflatable boat. Of the three men, Francis was the only one who died at sea. What was interesting about him was that he was the only one who confessed that they were going to die. Also, the six chocolate bars they were to share, Francis selfishly ate them all while the others were asleep. On the other hand, Louis was the one stopping him from believing they would die. What was apparent was that Francis’ outlook made him hopeless and desperate, and quenched his spirit long before he physically died.
Our perspective determines our posture in life. Like sitting upright or wearing the right shoes promotes good physical posture, good perspective facilitates good mental posture. Likewise, poor perspective hinders a healthy posture. In life, if your perspective is not right then you will live in the now life Francis. You will always seek for your own interest. In the end like poor physical posture brings about poor health that limits, you will live a limited life. Therefore, like we have seen with Louis who had a great perspective in the Olympic and in Prison or his crew-mate who had poor perspective when life turned up-side-down, choose your perspective wisely for it affects your posture and your relationships as we will see next.
Your relationships define your level of effectiveness and success more than your grittiness or giftedness. Choosing your relationships correctly and investing in them is essential to life. Therefore, what really dictates your relationships with others? Perspective. Whether it’s your close family and friends, your acquaintance, or your professional relationships, perspective will shape them all. Your perspective of people determines the quality of your relationship with them.
How exactly does perspective outlines your relationships? Your perspective affects how you see people. Your perspective of a person will decide whether you place their value at ten or at one, ten being the highest value. Elevated perspective allows you to place a 10 on others while lowered perspective places a lower value. Therefore, the first way perspective affects your relationships is that it affects how you value others. Keep in mind that the value see in people is the value you receive from them and that affects the depth of the relationships.
Your perspective will make you a person who is easily offended by people or who is always grateful for them. In a group of people who have a common purpose, such as a team at work or members of a church, it’s easier to identify a person who doesn’t get along with others or one who have great relationships. Often the people who don’t get along with others have a poor perspective and get easily offended. They magnify people’s shortcomings. While those who have great relationships have a good perspective and are grateful for the people around them. They magnify the good deeds of others. Therefore, the second way that perspective affects your relationships is in what you choose to focus on in others; the good or the bad. It’s not what people do to you that gets you, it’s how you view them that does.
The value see in people is the value you receive from them and that affects the depth of the relationships.
At the center of a fulfilled life is the right perspective of where one is (present), how far they have come (past), and how far they can go (future). The right view of where you’re currently in life makes you appreciate what’s working and think of how to improve what’s not working out. This helps you to live in the moment without complaining. A right perspective of the past makes you appreciate your efforts, strengths, support systems, and struggles. Understanding that it wasn’t easy, but you’re making progress, enables you to live a life of gratitude and not grief. Finally, the right perspective of the future, makes you look at your potential and opportunities, which makes you live with an anticipation for success. While a good view of the future ignites faith, poor view ignites fear. Therefore, it’s the power of perspective that shapes your feelings of fulfillment. Remember that your perspective determines your appreciation, which in turn determines your fulfillment.
Your perspective determines your appreciation, which in turn determines your fulfillment.
Perspective, like the wind, is invisible but powerful; it’s power shapes our posture, relationships, and determines fulfillment in life. I would like to challenge you to revisit the three areas we have covered and ask yourself this simple question. Does the force of perspective build me up or pull me down? Being intentional in doing this examination exercise will help you improve perspective and help you be grateful for the good times and remain unbroken in the tough times of life. Next week we will look at how to have an elevated perspective.