20/20 Vision: Orient to the Long View

We often enter a new year – and in this case a new decade – seeking a reset. We hope for better circumstances and bring our best intentions to making new year’s resolutions. While new behaviors and better outcomes are important, it’s also worth focusing on how we cope with whatever the new year brings. So for this optically evocative year, let’s explore how you can enhance your vision.

Under stress, we tend to become shortsighted. We focus on the details of the situation at hand. In some ways, this can be adaptive, because it orients us to what we need to handle. But we can get caught up ruminating about the minutia, feeling more and more anxious. The mind runs around in tight circles, worrying about a health concern, the work project or preparation for a trip. When you notice your vision becoming myopic, exhale and shift your attention to the long view.

It can be helpful to literally look up and around. Find a window and look outside. Seek a view of the horizon and sky. Find a photo of a beautiful expansive view. These visual cues calm the anxious primitive brain with reassurance that there is no tiger or tornado in sight.

Then return to your view of the issue you’re grappling with – zoom out to see the larger perspective. Consider your situation from a distance. What is important about your dilemma with the distance of time? What will matter about this next month? Next year? In 10 years? In 50 years? Also, consider your situation from the distance of space. Imagine you’re an astronaut, gazing down upon the earth and its 7.8 billion inhabitants. Hold your experience in the big scheme of things. Who else is struggling as you are? How can you see beyond yourself and feel more connected with humanity?

By distancing from the self/now-focused experience, we often notice new details that can relax the mind and help us address the current moment more calmly and constructively. By holding the current challenge in a broader perspective, we can more easily let go of the extraneous details and focus on what really matters. We can see the stress of the work project, trip preparation or health concern through kinder, wiser eyes and calm the body and mind, now prepared to take the very next step to address the challenge before us.

Let 2020 remind you to orient to your distance vision to help keep the stressors that come up in healthy perspective so you can focus on what’s really important to you in the big scheme of things.

photo credit: Mirsad Sarajlic

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