Sunday, May 18, 2014

Guest Post: The Value of Perspective

This is a guest post by my friend Daniel. Find him at @lonewolfdisco 

My favourite run commute home from work takes me up the Capilano River, followed by finding my way on top of Grouse Mountain via the BCMC trail. I then get to enjoy a lengthy downhill on my choice of many paths before arriving at my door. On one such run I was mesmerized by Grouse as I crossed Cleveland Dam well below, and I began to envision myself on the steep trail climbing the mountain. I thought, make sure to do the opposite. Remember exactly how magnificent this mountain is from the vantage point below, as each of the many steps up become more strenuous.

In the many areas of our of life that we commit to improve upon, or endure, we have the luxury of changing our perspective. Maybe for you this is training for your first half marathon, or maybe it is eating more vegetables. Maybe you’ve decided, like myself, that working full-time, studying, maintaining a long distance relationship, and training for a 100 mile race qualifies as “balanced”.

Why is perspective important at all? Because we can be our own biggest obstacle. We can fall prey to perfectionism, worthlessness, and feelings of insignificance.

See the forest for the trees

Sure easier said than done, but attempt to remove yourself for a moment when things get tough. Picture yourself moving through the problem from a distance, imagine how less significant it is to others, or to yourself from another angle. Remember what the mountain looked like from afar. I want to emphasize this needn't be a life shattering crisis: with the amassed stress of modern life, making small changes can be overwhelming. Go back to the excitement you felt before you started. Go back to your reason. They will pick you up, they will carry you, they are what you will find when you look within and dig deep. It won't always be easy, but it can't always be hard: every achievement builds momentum. The steps you take today will make you stronger tomorrow.

Give value to your achievements

Pull a bill out of your wallet, and consider that its value is intangible. To some the paper might be more valuable for lighting a fire, however we all agree on what it is worth, and that is what makes it useful. Every single thing you achieve in day/month/year/lifetime can seem petty if you neglect to imbue it with significance. Or you can build up a wealth of currency that is truly your own. The next time you start to come down on yourself for slipping, thank yourself for being an active participant in your life at all. No one falls down standing still. Except me that one time trying to decide which fork in a trail to take, don’t tell anyone. As you advance through each mile of your race, embrace every step it took to get there. Do you eat better than you did a year ago? Can you eat better than you did yesterday? Yes, and go for it, you certainly are able. Your energy is limited, spend it assigning worth to the things you have achieved or can, then you will have less for bemoaning the slips and falls.

Be astonished

If your ancestors could see you, could see the world you live in, they wouldn't believe their senses. Yet it fails to impress us. Perhaps the fault of our own nature for having such a short attention span. Fair enough, but there is a detour. Allow taking responsibility for your own life to blow your mind. Become fully conscious. So many never will, or never even have the chance. The rest of us have silently agreed on waiting for permission to lust for that within the reach of our lives, instead of only that beyond our grasp. Hit pause on your struggle, look up at the stars, and curse out of astonishment. Here we are. No one is going to let you, but they don't need to, and they can't stop you.

These are all steps you can take today, without having to spend a cent loading your cupboards or obtaining gear. There is no obligation. Pick something and start. It won't look as you imagined entirely along the way, but step back, praise yourself, and give in to your instinct that finds this all absolutely incredible.

I want to hear what perspective means to you. How have you adapted to overcome obstacles on the path of being your ultra-self?