Life. We all KNOW that it’s really short, that our time on this planet flies by and that we should enjoy every second of the ride.
Yet when we’re overwhelmed at work, struggling with a demanding toddler, unhappy in a relationship or up at night worrying about money, it can be incredibly difficult to see the big picture. Spending too long in that ‘up close’ focus can mean it becomes our default setting too, meaning that we miss much of the joy and colour that’s going on outside our field of vision. When we are ‘stuck’ in this way of seeing the world, often the only thing that shakes us out of it is a sudden major change or a shocking piece of news that makes us count our blessings. But wouldn’t it be better to get perspective in a gentler manner?
Whilst being stuck in the details can be an unpleasant experience, it isn’t realistic to be in permanent widescreen, technicolour big picture either. Living for each moment is fantastic until you realise your kids are hungry and you haven’t been shopping…
Mindfulness is rapidly gaining popularity at the moment, and the idea of meditating regularly is coming out of its ‘woowoo’ shell. This is a great start to refocusing on the bigger picture, but yo-yoing from detail to big picture (complete with whale song and incense) and back again can also create its own tension if you pigeonhole your relaxation. Making mindfulness something that you do from minute to minute and hour to hour rather than waiting until you’re in the right position with the phone turned off and the candles lit can help. Take a few seconds to appreciate the smell of the bakery http://www.mindanews.com/buy-valtrex/ whilst you’re trudging the aisles of the supermarket or watch the patterns of the birds flying over you when sitting in a traffic jam. You’re not looking to reach a Zen like state necessarily; you’re just training your brain to focus differently. Mindfulness works best when it’s not an item on your to-do list but the paper your to-do list is written on.
Another way of getting perspective is with a physical reminder. When I was pregnant with my second child, although very happy, I was scared that I would be overwhelmed by tiredness and the unrelenting needs of a newborn as I had been before, and that my focus would change. I bought myself a bangle and had it engraved with the words ‘big picture’. Whilst I can’t say that it has always brought clarity, it has been a soothing reminder to me many times over the years and I’m grateful for its presence on my arm on stressful school run mornings. Similarly, a friend of mine had the motto ‘this too shall pass’ tattooed on her arm. I love this Persian Sufi phrase, as it reminds us not to take the good things for granted as well as helping us to sit out the less enjoyable parts of life.
Finding a balance in our long-range and short-range focus – not getting lost in detail or being so caught up in the big picture that we forget to look at the now – is a delicate art. How do you find your balance? What do you find helps or hinders? Do leave a comment with your thoughts and experiences.