At times, and in many circumstances, we are too close to the details of a situation (often stressful) to see the larger picture. Others can help us here. The perspective(s) of others can be sought out and considered. One does not have to follow the advice or suggestions of others, but these can be considered and can help a person to see the larger picture and possibly make better choices. Having close friends and/or relatives that we can trust and confide in can help us in our struggles in life. In the heat of emotional crises, turning to those who are not immediately involved – and are thus more detached from the crisis and can be objective – is sometimes the best thing we can do.
Seeking the counsel and views of others can help us to expand and broaden our perspective, and see (and consider) more constructive choices, more alternative solutions. In time, with greater personal experience to draw on and having expanded our perspective, we will have a larger perspective and will naturally see that there are more alternatives, different approaches to dealing constructively with the challenges we face. We can strive to make seeing the bigger picture a habit of our thinking. Then, we will not only see the forest apart from the trees but we will also see the sky, the river at the forest’s edge, the other person on the footpath in the distance, and that our choices, our actions or failure to act will impact that person in the distance and ourselves for better or for worse. In other words, we will see more of the entire picture.
These ideas are important for Americans. We are an ego-centric people. We broke away from Britain, but we retained some of that British ego-centrism. Americans ought to consider what might be learned and gained from some of the wisdom from other cultures. There are other constructive approaches to solving social and family type problems. We do not do so well with such problems in the US. Similarly, Americans need to learn from their own history so that they stop making the same kinds of mistakes that were made in the past.
some ways we can and do learn and grow
Obviously, we can learn many things in school, through formal education. (Young children are in school around the world. In the middle of the night, while we are asleep, there are children in another part of the world starting their school day.)
We can learn from books, the more so if we read on a wide variety of subjects and the writings of a diverse set of authors. Helpful insights, some nuggets of wisdom or practical ideas are to be found in many books written by men and women, past and present. From time to time, I will read a book written in an earlier century to see how people of those times thought about life and the issues they confronted (mostly writings from recent centuries such as the 1800s). I may not agree with an author’s views, and these views may now by our modern standards be considered ignorant or erroneous, but one can gain insights into how people think (and thought in the past) by reading such works.
We can learn from our experiences. And, perhaps we learn from these albeit we are not fully aware that we are learning from them. There really is no substitute for experience. Yet, we can benefit and learn from the experiences of others as well if we talk to others who have greater experience, and read the works of those with more experience than ourselves. There is much wisdom in the collective experiences of mankind that is often overlooked. Thus, if we keep an open mind, and are not excessively skeptical, we can learn from the experiences of others and thereby avoid making some mistakes in our lives.
We can learn from others by considering what they think and how they view us. (It may seem that I am repeating myself now, but stick with me.) We can even learn some things from those who we disagree with, and from those who are different from us. Interactions with others can expand our perspective so that we consider alternatives that we would not have thought of by ourselves. My view and critique of American society has been affected over the years by my personal interactions (and conversations) with individuals from other countries, from other cultures of the world. It is not that I am widely travelled, no. These interactions with others, hearing how others see the US and Americans, took place at the large universities I attended (that had foreign students and some foreign born professors) and at the large corporations I worked for (that employed some foreign (born and raised) workers and consultants). As well, we can learn from those in the workplace that are in different occupations. Over the years, I have worked closely with (on various projects) engineers, corporate attorneys, marketing department individuals, customer service representatives, finance and accounting employees, and computer programmers and tech support folks. There are opportunities to learn much from one’s co-workers.
Yet, in addition to all this input (from formal education, from books, from our experiences and our interactions with others) we can also think and reflect on what we have experienced and read. By periodically spending some time on reflection, we can pull disparate threads together and see (for ourselves) larger patterns in how people think, in what our experiences are telling us, and in the process we call life (or “living”). We can also learn to trust our intuition. The intuition complements our reason and ought not be ignored.
Yesterday morning, I saw a funny looking bird walking along the top of the backyard fence. This bird had a protrusion of tissue from the back of its head that rose up above its head and ended slightly in front of its head. This bird may have just been passing through as it did not look like any of the bird species that dwell here. We live in a high elevation (4 to 5 thousand feet) desert which is not devoid of life. There are coyotes (in nearby large open areas) , rabbits, field mice, various birds (as residents have planted trees over the years), lizards (in summer), the occasional small snake, butterflies, wasps, desert flies, various types of crickets, red ants (who build their hills or mounds in the backyard), a surprisingly large variety of spiders (some are very strange looking), and the rare scorpion (a northern species, relatively small and odd colored). Humans have introduced (too) many dogs and a few cats in recent years.
We see the chem-trails in our skies, too. Life goes on. The world keeps turning. And, the sun, high up in the sky, is merciless this time of year. The constellations and stars we see in the night sky during summer are different than the ones we see on cold winter nights.
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