Sometimes it sure is hard to see the bigger picture. We’re inundated with bills, we have a task-list the length of our arm, and especially as we get a little older, we begin to feel overwhelmed with responsibilities, things to do and details to take care of.
I’m sure many guys can relate. That’s why learning to see the bigger picture is very useful mind tool. It has a way of transporting us outside of ourselves, outside of the situation we find ourselves in, and able to plan long-term.
This will help us manage and build businesses, long-term health goals, and solid long-lasting personal and business relationships – things everyone visiting this site likely want.
So how do we learn to see the big picture? There are some tools we can use to help us relax and get into the right frame of mind. I’ve outlined three of them below.
Tools for seeing the bigger picture:
1) The Jet Pack Visualisation – This is a powerful technique which will really help you gain perspective when you’re bogged down. It’s one of my personal favourites, and I’ve used it when dealing with relationship breakdowns, business upsets and personal goal setbacks.
Close your eyes and imagine you are wearing a jet pack. Surround yourself with the things that are overwhelming you – a nagging partner, a large financial bill, and perhaps a jerk for a boss. Literally see these things around you, and then turn on your jet pack.
Slowly, rise above these annoyances and situations. Keep going until you reach the clouds, and then look down. Those problems don’t seem so big now, do they?
But there’s more still. Why not keep going? After all this is only an imaginary exercise and we can go as far as we want without risk of death, so why not take a trip into outer space to view the earth from above? Keep you eyes closed, and jet yourself there. Where are those problems now?
You know what, since we’ve gone this far, let’s keep on going to the edge of the milky way. Do you see the billions upon billions of stars? All of those are just like our sun, have massive rocks and even planets orbiting around them, and are unthinkably big. Still feel anxious? How big do your problems seem now?
Just because we can, let’s go as far as we can imagine to the edge of our universe. There we are, suspended in the air by our trusty jet pack in the radioactive waves that mark the end of our known universe, taking in all of creation – at least what we can see of it.
The view would look a little like this:
Although truthfully that would only be a tiny fraction of what’s out there. See those stars? They aren’t stars, they’re galaxies as big as the our milky way. Travelling from our galaxy to our nearest neighbour (the Andromeda galaxy) would take 2.5 million years if we travelled at the speed of light. And yet there are endless galaxies beyond that.
That’s perspective. No matter how big a problem seems, remember you are a small ape like creature on a spinning rock held in orbit by a relatively small star in one of the smaller galaxies in a vast and endless ocean of stars.
Works for me. I hope it does for you too.
2) The lighter on the bar – I was once having a really, really bad day. My job was sucking worse than ever, and my girlfriend at the time turned out to be a total absolute lying bitch and scam artist. Of course, being the generally good-natured guy that I am I’d accepted her at face value and hadn’t realized until a rude awakening, which had happened on this particular day.
I was livid. Normally I don’t let chicks upset me, but the audacity of this particular one was beyond the realms of the thinkable, and I was hell-bent on doing some damage in return.
Enter my buddy Rod. He’d also been through a crazy situation a long time ago with a she-devil and he knew how I felt. He took a sip of his beer and placed his lighter on the bar, leaning over closer to talk to me.
“You see that lighter?” he asked.
“Yeah” I told him.
“That lighter is the time you spent with this crazy ho, and that bar is your life”.
Instantly I felt better. The powerful demonstration jolted me out of my blind rage and helped me see how small the problem was in the grander scheme of life. My perspective shifted immediately and I felt a massive release. What was I so worked up about? In the grand scheme of things this was just another funny story to tell, another little nugget of wisdom handed to me by life, providing me with feedback that I needed to learn to read people better.
Remembering that life is much bigger than the situation you’re in helps a lot. In the grand scheme of time, there are only a few events that even really impact your life in a huge and irreversible way (snapping your spinal cord or a parent dying are big deals). Most other things are pretty insignificant and can be classed as minor bumps in the road called life.
Relax, and let time do its thing. Life is much bigger and longer than right now.
3) Break it down – I don’t often advise looking into the past, because it’s dead and gone and there’s a plethora of evidence showing that we can’t even properly remember things anyway, and that what we think happened is actually a very distorted version of events.
However, when there’s a large task at hand I think it helps to look back and break down how you did something of equal magnitude in the past. Here’s an example:
For the last 6 months or so I have been working out harder and more consistently than at any time of my life. For the first time I am fast approaching my target weight of 210lbs, something which seemed an almost impossible feat when I was a gangly 180, and something I had failed to achieve on several other attempts previously.
Looking back over that 6 months of hard work and big eating, I can see clearly that it is the small, steady steps I have taken that have added up to a large change. Gaining 25lbs of lean muscle seems difficult when we look forward and the road seems long, but gaining 1lb a week over 6 or so months is quite easy when you break it down.
When I try to imagine the future I feel that there is a monumental gap between where I am now and where I want to be ideally. Once I get to 210, I may maintain for a while, but knowing myself well I know I’ll soon aim for 240 just because I can. Even when I get there I will immediately set new goals, because that’s just the way I operate. There are no summits, just plateaus.
Looking at these goals can sometimes seem overwhelming, and then I remember that time is on my side as long as I work with it and not against it. I look back and reflect on how far I’ve already come.
Because I know the universe works on the law of cause and effect, I know that all I have to do is create a plan that works and then show up and do the steps. All I have to do is put in the effort and practice, and then let time do its thing. I will get there eventually.
If I was able to gain 20+lbs of muscle in a little over 6 months, what if I kept working just as hard and eating the same way for 20 years? Sure things would slow down and the gains would become harder, but imagine how strong and massive I could become over that time period?
Another thing I want to do is grow this blog into something that serves millions and makes me a decent passive income. 20% of the total traffic in the history of this blog has come in the past month. That’s proof that the site is growing rapidly.
Imagine if I keep at it and The Art of Selfhood grows at that kind of pace over 5-10 years? The possibilities are endless and my goals are reachable, especially with the content ideas that have been rushing into my mind as of late. The success feeds my mental energy and creativity which further feeds more success and growth. It’s a positive feedback loop.
If I’ve managed in two years to turn my finances around from 6k+ of high interest debt to being debt free and having several years living expenses at my disposal, I get excited to imagine where I might be financially in 10- 20 years, and still relatively young!
Look how far you’ve already come and consider how you got there one small step at a time. Then keep moving forward.
4) Travel – my favourite pastime and by far the most pleasurable of the techniques listed, travel can really broaden your mind and help you remember there’s an entire planet full of interesting and unique people, places and things out there!
Did your girl cheat on you? Take a trip and look at all the gorgeous women out there. There are 4 billion women on this earth, that’s more women than you can find grains of rice in a metric tonne of the stuff! Half of those are the right age to date you and about half of those are pretty and worth your time. Forget that one who let you down, and focus on the abundance of cool, fun women out there who will hold it down for you. She wasn’t the only one for you.
Do you feel suffocated by where you live? Get on a bus and take a trip to another city, another town or even state or country. It’s a big world out there and you don’t have to be where you are. Start researching other options and make a plan to get out. Seek and ye shall find.
Got a spare 5-10k? Take a trip to South East Asia or South America and backpack around for 3 months. Meet interesting people living a different way of life. Try new foods, new activities and learn new skills. You’ll be surprised that in three months your entire mindset will have changed and you won’t ever be able to go back to the way you saw things before.
Travelling truly broadens the mind. As well as that it brings new knowledge, skills, friends and opportunities. You just have to have the guts to pack a bag and go explore.
Perspective is very important. We often get overwhelmed and panicked when we realize how far we have to go before we reach our finish line or work out this problem.
If you’re like me there will be no ultimate finish line. There will only be infinite growth until I am at rest forever. That’s the essence of life.
If the above hasn’t helped you to calm down and see the bigger picture, consider this mind-blowing piece of advice I heard once in a philosophy seminar:
If there is a god and eternity, nothing matters that much because it is minutely small in the grand scheme and everything is going according to divine will anyway. If there is no god, then we are tiny insignificant ape-men on a rock spinning at unimaginable speeds through an almost infinite ocean of rock and debris for no reason or purpose whatsoever, and nothing matters.
Ultimately, whichever way you look at life, nothing matters that much. You’re a free man and can do whatever you choose. You can react whatever way you want.
Do you find that depressing, or like me do you find it liberating?
Relax and get to work. Most importantly – keep perspective. Step by step you will get there, and your problems are nowhere near as big as they currently seem. Even Everest is just a tiny little mound on the face of the earth.
Desire. Decide. Persist.