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Raising Awareness Through Multiple Perspectives

Sunday, February 12th, 2006 by Steve Pavlina

MP3 link: perspective.mp3

Today, we're going to talk about raising awareness through multiple perspectives. Now what do I mean by that?

Well, obviously, the question of how we're going to live our lives is a big one that all of us face. And trying to answer this question head-on is often very difficult. However, if we shift between different perspectives as we try to answer this question, it can give us some additional clarity that makes the question easier to answer.

So, ultimately, our goal here is to answer the question "How shall I live my life?" And what we're going to do is, we're going to use our imaginations to explore possible answers to this question from different perspectives. And the two main factors we're going to alter to shift perspectives are time and space. And I'll explain those in just a moment.

And the ultimate goal, of course, is to make this question easier to answer, in a way that satisfies you.

So let's start with time.

Let's begin with the present moment.

How do you feel about your life right now? That's probably not that hard a question to answer. But let's shift this perspective right now, and imagine how do you think you'll feel about how you're living right now:

  • A year from now?
  • How about five years from now?
  • Ten years from now?
  • Twenty years from now?
  • Fifty years from now?
  • At your deathbed?

Imagine going all the way to the end of your life and thinking, from that perspective, how you would feel about your life today, right now. What would be important to you? What would not be important to you?

Now let's shift to the past:

  • How would your childhood-self think of the person you've become today?
  • How would you as a teenager think about the person you have become today?
  • And if you've moved past your twenties, how would you, as a twenty-something-year-old, think about how your life is today?
  • How would yourself from five years ago, or from a year ago, think about who you are today?

We can also take this question beyond our own lifetimes — further into the past or further forward into the future.

  • Where does your life fit into all of human history?
  • Into the entire history of the universe?
  • What type of legacy are you creating for the future?
  • What does your life mean, when you pull back outside the context of time?

Just use your imagination, answer the question as best you can.

Now initially, you may not like the answer that you hear. But that's OK, because the whole purpose is to give you greater clarity so that you can make the changes that you want to make.

Some things that seem important to you right now can become virtually meaningless when you look at them from different time perspectives.

One example is money. Money looks good within your lifetime. As you go forward into the future, it might look even more important. But when you extend it beyond your own lifetime, and even pull back further outside of the context of time, it becomes virtually meaningless.

As a personal example here: when I went through this process of looking at my life through multiple perspectives, I was running my computer games business. And the business looked OK from the present moment.

When I projected myself into my past, it looked even better, because it was a childhood dream of mine to run my own computer game company, to develop my own computer games. And after publishing a few dozen games, from the perspective of my childhood, I had already accomplished my dream.

But when I moved forward into the future, it didn't look as rosy. It seemed like I wasn't really living up to my potential, that I could do better than that.

So that's one of the things that motivated me to pull back from that business, and to start this personal development business instead — because this is a business that looked much better to me from all different time perspectives, including pulling back and looking at it from outside my own lifetime.

Now let's move on to the second factor that we can alter, which is space. This means moving to other perspectives beyond your own ego.

How does your life look from someone else's perspective?

  • How does it look from the perspective of your spouse, or your boyfriend or girlfriend, if you have one?
  • What about your friends and peers? How would they look at your life?
  • How about your parents?
  • Your children?
  • Your worst enemy?
  • People you respect?
  • What about groups of people, like your community?
  • Your country?
  • The whole world?

Does the way you're living now look good from all these different perspectives, from other people's angles? You know, believe it or not, there's more people in the world than just you.

Again, going back to the example of my games business – it looked great from my perspective initially, especially in the present moment.

But, from the perspective of people I truly respected, it seemed obvious to me that devoting my life to entertaining people just wasn't the best I could do. I'm not saying it's bad for other people, I'm just saying that for me specifically, it wasn't the best I could do, and that I could do better.

So again, as I pulled outside the perspective of my own ego, and shifted through other perspectives in space, it gave me additional clarity that I needed to make a change.

The next thing you can do is to combine both space and time.

For example, what were your parents' hopes and dreams for you when you were born? Did they even have any for you?

How will your own children feel about your life after you've died?

You could step outside your own life and look at it from the perspective of everything that exists in both time and space. Sort of a cosmic perspective.

How does your life fit into the universe, what does it mean?

What does it mean that you exist at all?

The goal here is to create a life for yourself – consciously – that makes sense from all different perspectives, not just your own.

So think of it as creating a life that's ecologically sound. Does your life serve not only your good, but the highest good of all?

Now what are you going to do with your life? That's a tough question to answer when you only focus on your limited perspective of the present moment, and your own ego. But when you pull outside and look at it from multiple perspectives, it becomes much easier to come up with an intelligent response.

Now it's a whole other matter to develop the courage to accept the answer you get, but at least you'll be able to get some answers. And in most cases, I believe your answer will be a very simple one.

For example, my answer is that I'm here to grow, and to help others grow. This answer looks good to me from every perspective I've considered. It looks good from within my own ego, and within the present moment. It tells me what I should be doing right now, like recording this podcast. But it also looks good to me from a perspective outside of time, and it looks good to me from other people's perspective. And having lived with it for quite some time right now, the result has been absolutely wonderful.

My ultimate wish is for you to be able to enjoy a similar sense of purpose – to wake up each day knowing why you exist, and to pursue that purpose with so much passion that it infects every fiber of your being. And that is in fact what it means to live consciously.

But this is a choice for you to make. You can shout all day at the universe, "What is the meaning of my life?" And all you may get in response is static. And that's because life is posing this question to you, and it's waiting for your answer.

It's saying to you, "OK, I gave you life. Now what are you going to do with it?"

Don't allow yourself to answer this question with static too. It's your life. And it's your responsibility to decide what to do with it.

Your life itself will be your final answer. So, make it a good one.