Perspective Matters Quotes

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It does not matter how long you are spending on the earth, how much money you have gathered or how much attention you have received. It is the amount of positive vibration you have radiated in life that matters,
Amit Ray (Meditation: Insights and Inspirations)
There is strange comfort in knowing that no matter what happens today, the Sun will rise again tomorrow.
Aaron Lauritsen (100 Days Drive: The Great North American Road Trip)
Madness is a matter of perspective, little dreamer.
Samantha Shannon (The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2))
It was a matter of perspective, I began to see. The whole world was crazy; I'd flattered myself by assuming I was a semifinalist." -- Dolores Price
Wally Lamb (She’s Come Undone)
We've got a sort of brainwashing going on in our country, Morrie sighed. Do you know how they brainwash people? They repeat something over and over. And that's what we do in this country. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More commercialism is good. More is good. More is good. We repeat it--and have it repeated to us--over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise. The average person is so fogged up by all of this, he has no perspective on what's really important anymore. Wherever I went in my life, I met people wanting to gobble up something new. Gobble up a new car. Gobble up a new piece of property. Gobble up the latest toy. And then they wanted to tell you about it. 'Guess what I got? Guess what I got?' You know how I interpreted that? These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works. You can't substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship. Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness. I can tell you, as I'm sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you're looking for, no matter how much of them you have.
Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie)
In fact, the more each person can remove his or her ego from the discussion and focus on the subject matter, the more fruitful the conversation will be for all involved.
Matthew Kelly (The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved)
The box isn't all that different from life. If you go in with fear, fear is what you'll find.
Blake Crouch (Dark Matter)
Perspective is as simple as answering this question: If I had 5 months to live would I experience this problem differently?
Shannon L. Alder
Maybe the idea of love ending being a negative thing is simply a matter of perspective. Because to me, the idea that a love came to an end means that, at some point, there was love that existed. And there was a time in my life, before you, when I was completely untouched by it.
Colleen Hoover (It Starts with Us (It Ends with Us, #2))
Your time on this earth is a gift to be used wisely. Don't squander your words or your thoughts. Consider that even the simplest actions you take for your lives matter beyond measure...and they matter forever.
Andy Andrews (The Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective)
Good or bad is a matter of perspective. I met an immortal hunami once, a man called William Shakespeare, who wrote that there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
Michael Scott (The Necromancer (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #4))
It's all a matter of perspective. And maybe we thought we were living one story, when if we look at it a little different, we can reframe everything - all out memories and attributes and experiences - and see that we're actually living a different story.
Kiersten White (The Chaos of Stars)
At some point, we're all someone's hero and another's villain. It's all a matter of perspective.
Kerri Maniscalco (Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #4))
It is never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn't depend on how long it has been running; a shift in perspective doesn't depend on how long you've held on to the old view. When you flip the switch in that attic, it doesn't matter whether its been dark for ten minutes, ten years or ten decades. The light still illuminates the room and banishes the murkiness, letting you see the things you couldn't see before. Its never too late to take a moment to look.
Sharon Salzberg (Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation)
Whether a man is a criminal or a public servant is purely a matter of perspective.
Tom Robbins (Another Roadside Attraction)
A demon, if you prefer the term; although to be honest, the difference between god and a demon is really only a matter of perspective.
Joanne Harris (The Gospel of Loki (Loki, #1))
The difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter is a matter of perspective: it all depends on the observer and the verdict of history.
Pentti Linkola (Can Life Prevail?)
It is a matter of perspective, the difference between opponent and partner," Tsukiko says. "You step to the side and the same person can be either or both or something else entirely. It is difficult to know which face is true.
Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
Any day above ground is a good day. Before you complain about anything, be thankful for your life and the things that are still going well.
Germany Kent
Let me propose that if your beliefs or convictions matter more to you than people—if they require you to act as though you were a worse person than you are—you may have lost perspective.
Tim Kreider (We Learn Nothing)
You’re pretty sharp, Clive. Do you believe in God?” Clive smiled. “I don’t know, should I?” Actually, approaching the matter from a purely logical perspective, yes. All the evidence points to the existence of a creator. The single greatest body of evidence is the dismal failure of man’s desperate attempts to come up with a reasonable alternative, beginning with evolution. I’ve always looked at the universe and seen a creator as plainly as most people who look at the ocean see water.
Ted Dekker (Blink)
[T]he more clamour we make about 'the women's point of view', the more we rub it into people that the women's point of view is different, and frankly I do not think it is -- at least in my job. The line I always want to take is, that there is the 'point of view' of the reasonably enlightened human brain, and that this is the aspect of the matter which I am best fitted to uphold.
Dorothy L. Sayers (The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers 1899-1936: The Making of a Detective Novelist)
Things look different depending on your perspective. As I see it, fighting to bridge those gaps isn't what really matters. The most important thing is to know them inside and out, as differences, and to understand why certain people are the way they are.
Banana Yoshimoto (The Lake)
I am small. So are stars from a distance. It's all a matter of perspective.
C. Kennedy (Slaying Isidore's Dragons)
There comes a time when something changes you... No matter the impact... Where the world no longer beats in time with you. You no longer feel amongst the fray.. And the feeling of loneliness is a brandished armor you wear the rest of your life.
Solange nicole
heir eyes met. They both smiled, aware that they were in public, where anyone could see them on the street and in the window. But the rest of the world did not matter. For that moment, everything else vanished. He was there, she was there, no trouble could touch them.
Jeanette Watts (My Dearest Miss Fairfax)
What is nonsense, and what is not, then, may be merely a matter of perspective.
Gary Zukav
No one's the monster in their own story. Monsters are just a matter of perspective.
C.A. Fletcher (A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World)
It doesn’t matter how many years go by, how much therapy I embark on, how much I try to achieve that elusive thing known as perspective, which is supposed to put all past wrongs into their rightful and diminished place, that happy place where all the talk is of lessons learned and inner peace. No one will ever understand the potency of my memories, which are so solid and vivid that I don’t need a psychiatrist to tell me they are driving me crazy. My subconscious has not buried them, my superego has not restrained them. They are front and center, they are going on right now.
Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
More often than not, people who are obsessed with their desires and feelings are generally unhappier in life vs. people that refocus their attention on service to others or a righteous cause. Have you ever heard someone say their life sucked because they fed the homeless? Made their children laugh? Or, bought a toy for a needy child at Christmas time?
Shannon L. Alder
It's harder to pick and choose when you're dead. It's like a photograph, you know. It doesn't matter as much.
Neil Gaiman (American Gods (American Gods, #1))
Attitude Is Everything We live in a culture that is blind to betrayal and intolerant of emotional pain. In New Age crowds here on the West Coast, where your attitude is considered the sole determinant of the impact an event has on you, it gets even worse.In these New Thought circles, no matter what happens to you, it is assumed that you have created your own reality. Not only have you chosen the event, no matter how horrible, for your personal growth. You also chose how you interpret what happened—as if there are no interpersonal facts, only interpretations. The upshot of this perspective is that your suffering would vanish if only you adopted a more evolved perspective and stopped feeling aggrieved. I was often kindly reminded (and believed it myself), “there are no victims.” How can you be a victim when you are responsible for your circumstances? When you most need validation and support to get through the worst pain of your life, to be confronted with the well-meaning, but quasi-religious fervor of these insidious half-truths can be deeply demoralizing. This kind of advice feeds guilt and shame, inhibits grieving, encourages grandiosity and can drive you to be alone to shield your vulnerability.
Sandra Lee Dennis
As I say, I have never in all these years thought of the matter in quite this way; but then it is perhaps in the nature of coming away on a trip such as this that one is prompted towards such surprising new perspectives on topics one imagined one had long ago thought throughly.
Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day)
I was transformed the day My ego shattered, And all the superficial, material Things that mattered To me before, Suddenly ceased To matter.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
Bad habits were all a matter of perspective, and as long as the present was viewed through the lens of the past, anyone would say he was doing a spectacular job.
Ann Patchett (Commonwealth)
It was a condensed explanation, but I came to understand him to mean you could stop at, not all, but most of the moments of your life, stop for one heartbeat and, no matter what the state of your head or heart, say This is happiness, because of the simple truth that you were alive to say it.
Niall Williams (This Is Happiness)
It doesn't matter if the glass is half full or half empty. I am gonna drink it through this crazy straw.
Joey Comeau (A Softer World: Truth and Beauty Bombs)
Reality is, Hope and Despair lie in the same places. And they're just a matter of perspective. What changed my perspective, was her.
Richie Singh (Chasing Butterflies)
My aim is not to provide excuses for black behavior or to absolve blacks of personal responsibility. But when the new black conservatives accent black behavior and responsibility in such a way that the cultural realities of black people are ignored, they are playing a deceptive and dangerous intellectual game with the lives and fortunes of disadvantaged people. We indeed must criticize and condemn immoral acts of black people, but we must do so cognizant of the circumstances into which people are born and under which they live. By overlooking these circumstances, the new black conservatives fall into the trap of blaming black poor people for their predicament. It is imperative to steer a course between the Scylla of environmental determinism and the Charybdis of a blaming-the-victims perspective.
Cornel West (Race Matters)
All the people we loved, who have died, are still alive in the past. The only thing that really separates us is time. It's a matter of perspective. That's what separates optimism and pessimism.
Diana Palmer (Carrera's Bride (Long, Tall Texans, #27))
Travel is a matter of perspective.
Kirsten Hubbard (Wanderlove)
It is a matter of perspective, between opponent and partner… You step to the side and the same person can be either or both or something else entirely.
Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
When you get to a certain age you find that other people’s opinions don’t really matter anymore, and you get kind of uncomfortable with your place in modern life.
Noel Gallagher
Movements are most powerful when they begin to affect the vision and perspective of those who do not necessarily associate themselves with those movements.
Angela Y. Davis (Freedom Is a Constant Struggle)
I believe the present matters --- not the past! The past must go. If we seek to keep the past alive, we end, I think, by distorting it. We see it in exaggerated terms --- a false perspective.
Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot's Christmas (Hercule Poirot, #20))
And as I looked at the star, I realised what millions of other people have realised when looking at stars. We’re tiny. We don’t matter. We’re here for a second and then gone the next. We’re a sneeze in the life of the universe.
Danny Wallace (Danny Wallace and the Centre of the Universe)
Happiness is a state of mind, not a set of circumstances.
Richard Carlson (You Can Be Happy No Matter What: Five Principles for Keeping Life in Perspective)
The reality is that dying isn’t bad, but it takes forever. And that forever is no time at all. I know that sounds like a contradiction, or maybe just wordplay. What it really is, it turns out, is a matter of perspective. —David Foster Wallace “Good Old Neon” (2004)
David Foster Wallace (Oblivion: Stories)
We tend to place a lot of emphasis on our circumstances, assuming that what happens to us (or fails to happen) determines how we feel. From this perspective, the small-scale details of how you spend your day aren’t that important, because what matters are the large-scale outcomes, such as whether or not you get a promotion or move to that nicer apartment. According to Gallagher, decades of research contradict this understanding. Our brains instead construct our worldview based on what we pay attention to.
Cal Newport (Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World)
It's amusing to me that we refer to people who live in their heads as detached, disturbed, or mad, when reality for anyone is actually a matter of the individual's state of mind. The mad truth—all people live in their heads. Whatever you think life is, it is.
Richelle E. Goodrich (Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, and Grumblings for Every Day of the Year)
There are certain human truths, like death, that nobody gets to escape, and pain, which everybody not only feels but needs. You have to go through it. So for everybody, at some point—very often for teenagers—the world is a terrible place. The world is a giant, awful black hole of evil conspiracy. Sometimes that’s because you have perspective on what the world’s really like, and sometimes it’s because you’ve completely lost perspective and you’re having a terrible day. But no matter what, everybody shares that feeling, and life is kind of about your ways around that, your ways around certain truths.
Joss Whedon
You just had to get some idea of what matters and what doesn't, and how much, and try not to be scared of the stuff that doesn't. Put it in perspective.
Lev Grossman (The Magicians (The Magicians, #1))
Competence means keeping your head in a crisis, sticking with a task even when it seems hopeless, and improvising good solutions to tough problems when every second counts. It encompasses ingenuity, determination and being prepared for anything. Astronauts have these qualities not because we’re smarter than everyone else (though let’s face it, you do need a certain amount of intellectual horsepower to be able to fix a toilet). It’s because we are taught to view the world—and ourselves—differently. My shorthand for it is “thinking like an astronaut.” But you don’t have to go to space to learn to do that. It’s mostly a matter of changing your perspective.
Chris Hadfield (An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth)
No one could endure lasting adversity if it continued to have the same force as when it first hit us. We are all tied to Fortune, some by a loose and golden chain, and others by a tight one of baser metal: but what does it matter? We are all held in the same captivity, and those who have bound others are themselves in bonds - unless you think perhaps that the left-hand chain is lighter. One man is bound by high office, another by wealth; good birth weighs down some, and a humble origin others; some bow under the rule of other men and some under their own; some are restricted to one place by exile, others by priesthoods: all life is a servitude. So you have to get used to your circumstances, complain about them as little as possible, and grasp whatever advantage they have to offer: no condition is so bitter that a stable mind cannot find some consolation in it.
Seneca (On the Shortness of Life: Life Is Long if You Know How to Use It (Penguin Great Ideas))
There was no black and white viewpoint, just seven billion shades of grey in between.
Adrian Collins (Evil is a Matter of Perspective: An Anthology of Antagonists)
The very quality of your life, whether you love it or hate it, is based upon how thankful you are toward God. It is one's attitude that determines whether life unfolds into a place of blessedness or wretchedness. Indeed, looking at the same rose bush, some people complain that the roses have thorns while others rejoice that some thorns come with roses. It all depends on your perspective. This is the only life you will have before you enter eternity. If you want to find joy, you must first find thankfulness. Indeed, the one who is thankful for even a little enjoys much. But the unappreciative soul is always miserable, always complaining. He lives outside the shelter of the Most High God. Perhaps the worst enemy we have is not the devil but our own tongue. James tells us, "The tongue is set among our members as that which . . . sets on fire the course of our life" (James 3:6). He goes on to say this fire is ignited by hell. Consider: with our own words we can enter the spirit of heaven or the agonies of hell! It is hell with its punishments, torments and misery that controls the life of the grumbler and complainer! Paul expands this thought in 1 Corinthians 10:10, where he reminds us of the Jews who "grumble[d] . . . and were destroyed by the destroyer." The fact is, every time we open up to grumbling and complaining, the quality of our life is reduced proportionally -- a destroyer is bringing our life to ruin! People often ask me, "What is the ruling demon over our church or city?" They expect me to answer with the ancient Aramaic or Phoenician name of a fallen angel. What I usually tell them is a lot more practical: one of the most pervasive evil influences over our nation is ingratitude! Do not minimize the strength and cunning of this enemy! Paul said that the Jews who grumbled and complained during their difficult circumstances were "destroyed by the destroyer." Who was this destroyer? If you insist on discerning an ancient world ruler, one of the most powerful spirits mentioned in the Bible is Abaddon, whose Greek name is Apollyon. It means "destroyer" (Rev. 9:11). Paul said the Jews were destroyed by this spirit. In other words, when we are complaining or unthankful, we open the door to the destroyer, Abaddon, the demon king over the abyss of hell! In the Presence of God Multitudes in our nation have become specialists in the "science of misery." They are experts -- moral accountants who can, in a moment, tally all the wrongs society has ever done to them or their group. I have never talked with one of these people who was happy, blessed or content about anything. They expect an imperfect world to treat them perfectly. Truly, there are people in this wounded country of ours who need special attention. However, most of us simply need to repent of ingratitude, for it is ingratitude itself that is keeping wounds alive! We simply need to forgive the wrongs of the past and become thankful for what we have in the present. The moment we become grateful, we actually begin to ascend spiritually into the presence of God. The psalmist wrote, "Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. . . . Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 100:2, 4-5). It does not matter what your circumstances are; the instant you begin to thank God, even though your situation has not changed, you begin to change. The key that unlocks the gates of heaven is a thankful heart. Entrance into the courts of God comes as you simply begin to praise the Lord.
Francis Frangipane
The most beautiful women in the world are the ones that can stand as rivals on the battlefield of love, yet they can still see each other’s pain. They can set down their swords for only just a moment to acknowledge the beauty of the warrior that stands before them—the passion, the fearlessness and the relentless fire that never gives up. It is in this moment that we learn that it is not the man that sees the worth of the hearts torn by battle in his honor; it is the women who have suffered for so long. Two women that can “see” clearly the worth of the other, even while they grow weary from their wounds is the only kind of beauty that matters. For if there wasn’t two worthy opponents there would be no war in love.
Shannon L. Alder
Much in life is simply a matter of perspective. It's not inherently good or bad, a success or failure; it's how we choose to look at things that makes the difference.
David Niven
I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. I want to grow really old with my wife, Annie, whom I dearly love. I want to see my younger children grow up and to play a role in their character and intellectual development. I want to meet still unconceived grandchildren. There are scientific problems whose outcomes I long to witness—such as the exploration of many of the worlds in our Solar System and the search for life elsewhere. I want to learn how major trends in human history, both hopeful and worrisome, work themselves out: the dangers and promise of our technology, say; the emancipation of women; the growing political, economic, and technological ascendancy of China; interstellar flight. If there were life after death, I might, no matter when I die, satisfy most of these deep curiosities and longings. But if death is nothing more than an endless dreamless sleep, this is a forlorn hope. Maybe this perspective has given me a little extra motivation to stay alive. The world is so exquisite, with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better, it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look Death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.
Carl Sagan (Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium)
And the stars: the sky gets crowded at night, and it is a bit like watching a clock, seeing the constellations slide across the sky. It’s comforting to know that they’ll show up, however bad the day has been, however crook things get. That used to help in France. It put things into perspective—the stars had been around since before there were people. They just kept shining, no matter what was going on. I think of the light here like that, like a splinter of a star that’s fallen to earth: it just shines, no matter what is happening. Summer, winter, storm, fine weather. People can rely on it.
M.L. Stedman (The Light Between Oceans)
It isn't a matter of how long, or even how much you know. It's a way of looking at things, how much you see and how you think. I suppose it's, well, perspective. . . When you start seein' five sides to a four-sided object, that's when you get the gray robe.
Hilari Bell (The Wizard Test)
It’s a strange thing, being the parent of a teenager. One thing to raise a little boy, another entirely when a person on the brink of adulthood looks to you for wisdom. I feel like I have little to give. I know there are fathers who see the world a certain way, with clarity and confidence, who know just what to say to their sons and daughters. But I’m not one of them. The older I get, the less I understand. I love my son. He means everything to me. And yet, I can’t escape the feeling that I’m failing him. Sending him off to the wolves with nothing but the crumbs of my uncertain perspective.
Blake Crouch (Dark Matter)
The changes we make in life often happen when we have a degree of certainty. However, the pain of our past failures and the fears of our peers often fuel our uncertainty. This inability to predict the future is why people find themselves stuck and unable to move forward. They don't want to feel the emotions of failure. They prefer to talk themselves into settling for an "okay" life, rather than the life they really want. However, failure is a matter of perspective! Is it not failure when you don't take a chance on the one thing you need? There is no happiness in regret, staying safe or settling for anything less than what you can have through action.
Shannon L. Alder
As a matter of fact, when it comes to seeing, men display two tendencies: they see what they wish to see, what is useful to them, what is agreeable. The second is the tendency toward inhibition; they do not see what they do not wish to see, what is useless to them, or disagreeable.
Remy de Gourmont (Philosophic Nights in Paris (English and French Edition))
What separates us into engineers and robots, puppeteers and puppets, kings and pawns, is not the status we hold at any given time among others - status is irrelevant; it is the level of ever-present awareness we have of a grey-matter tailor's tools [of flattery, persuasion, and cunning.]
A.J. Darkholme (Rise of the Morningstar (The Morningstar Chronicles, #1))
If you organize your family life to spend even ten or fifteen minutes a morning reading something that connects you with these timeless principles, its almost guaranteed that you will make better choices during the day--in the family, on the job, in every dimension of life. Your thoughts will be higher. Your interactions will be more satisfying. You will have a greater perspective. You will increase that space between what happens to you and your response to it. You will be more connected to what really matters most.
Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families: Creating a Nurturing Family in a Turbulent World)
The difference between an ordinary life and an extraordinary life is only a matter of perspective. Pull the blinds. Look around you. It is a mad, mad world and you do not require ten digit bank accounts to immerse yourself in it. Travel down dusty roads without a destination in mind. Climb a mountain and scream out into the void. Kiss the hell out of a stranger. Skinny dip in a lake. Get lost and lose yourself (they are two separate things). Explore the wilderness (especially the one within). Think less of destiny and more of the moment right here. Because when you are old and ill with your loved ones around you, fame won't matter, nor will the extent of your wealth. You are the sum of the stories you can tell.
Beau Taplin
Like many others of the younger generation, for Magda and Fritz the last years of the sixties were the utopian meaning of paradise on earth, the more so for Magda who had graduated with honours. She had based a part of her thesis on the philosophical perspective of the Expressionist movement, particularly what the philosopher Nietzsche wrote in his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra, in which, amongst other things, he stated: ''What does my shadow matter?... Let it run after me!... I shall out-run it...'' And that's what Magda wanted to do with her life: declare herself independent from conventional thought and from past memories.
Anton Sammut (Memories of Recurrent Echoes)
And someone, somewhere, was having an even worse time of it than me. I tried to keep that in mind. No matter how crappy your life, someone will probably beat you in the my-life-is-crap category. Not that I don't let myself whine a little now and then, but sometimes it's good to keep your misery in perspective
Lish McBride (Necromancing the Stone (Necromancer, #2))
The forest stretched on seemingly forever with the most monotonous predictability, each tree just like the next - trunk, branches, leaves; trunk, branches, leaves. Of course a tree would have taken a different view of the matter. We all tend to see the way others are alike and how we differ, and it's probably just as well we do, since that prevents a great deal of confusion. But perhaps we should remind ourselves from time to time that ours is a very partial view, and that the world is full of a great deal more variety than we ever manage to take in.
Thomas M. Disch (The Brave Little Toaster)
Movies always have a beginning and end. But in any movie you see, something always happened before the movie began. We just don't see it. And so we fall for this illusion that things have this beginning and end. For a long time, physics believed that there was a beginning to the universe, and only now they're beginning to say there might have been something before the Big Bang. But from a spiritual perspective, of course there was no beginning. Beginnings and endings are merely illusions.
Todd Perelmuter (Spiritual Words to Live by : 81 Daily Wisdoms and Meditations to Transform Your Life)
Wisdom can be gathered on your downtime. Wisdom that can change the very course of your life will come from the people you are around, the books you read, and the things you listen to or watch on radio or television. Of course, bad information is gathered in your downtime too. Bad information that can change the very course of your life will come from the people you are around, the books you read, and the things you listen to or watch on radio or television. One of wisdom's greatest benefits, is accurate discernment- the learned ability to immediately tell right from wrong. Good from evil. Acceptable from unacceptable. Time well spent from time wasted. The right decision from the wrong decision. And many times this is simply a matter of having the correct perspective. One way to define wisdom is THE ABILITY TO SEE, INTO THE FUTURE, THE CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR CHOICES IN THE PRESENT. That ability can give you a completely different perspective on what the future might look like... with a degree of intelligence and a hint of wisdom, most people can tell the difference between good and bad. However, it takes a truly wise person to discern the oh-so-thin line between good and best. And that line...[gives you the] perspective that allows you to see clearly the long-term consequences of your choices.
Andy Andrews (The Noticer: Sometimes, All a Person Needs Is a Little Perspective)
Truth is truth, you are who you are, and though your viewpoint might change, and though you might possess a different perspective about something, your heart and what you believe and who you are inside is only ever you...and you have to follow your heart, you have to believe what you're doing is right, and no matter what anyone might say or think or do you have to trust yourself to make the right decision.
R.J. Ellory (Candlemoth)
Vulnerable, like all men, to the temptations of arrogance, of which intellectual pride is the worst, he [the scientist] must nevertheless remain sincere and modest, if only because his studies constantly bring home to him that, compared with the gigantic aims of science, his own contribution, no matter how important, is only a drop in the ocean of truth.
Louis de Broglie (Nouvelles perspectives en microphysique)
You don’t have to agree with, only learn to peacefully live with, other people’s freedom of choice. This includes (but is not limited to) political views, religious beliefs, dietary restrictions, matters of the heart, career paths, and mental afflictions. Our opinions and beliefs tend to change depending on time, place, and circumstance. And since we all experience life differently, there are multiple theories on what’s best, what’s moral, what’s right, and what’s wrong. It is important to remember that other people’s perspective on reality is as valid as your own.
Timber Hawkeye (Buddhist Boot Camp)
The dilemma is this. In the modern world knowledge has been growing so fast and so enormously, in almost every field, that the probabilities are immensely against anybody, no matter how innately clever, being able to make a contribution in any one field unless he devotes all his time to it for years. If he tries to be the Rounded Universal Man, like Leonardo da Vinci, or to take all knowledge for his province, like Francis Bacon, he is most likely to become a mere dilettante and dabbler. But if he becomes too specialized, he is apt to become narrow and lopsided, ignorant on every subject but his own, and perhaps dull and sterile even on that because he lacks perspective and vision and has missed the cross-fertilization of ideas that can come from knowing something of other subjects.
Henry Hazlitt
The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses.To explain — since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation — every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake. The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.
Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1))
We particularly need to listen to older people and children. They all have stories to tell that enrich the mind and the heart. Children simplify things, often with brutal honesty. Older people bring the perspective of their long years on issues. Suffering people also help us understand what are the truly important matters of life. There is something to learn from all people if we are only willing to sit at their feet and humble ourselves enough to ask the right questions.
Gordon MacDonald (Ordering Your Private World)
Finders keepers!" Ian shouted, scooping up the overlay and hopping onto a rock outcropping. "You cheater!" Amy was furious. No way was he going to get away with that. She climbed the rock, matching him step for step until she reached the top. There he turned to her, panting for breath. "Not bad for a Cahill," he said, grinning. "You --y-y-you--" The words caught in her throat, the way they always did. He was staring at her, his eyes dancing with laughter, making her so knotted up with anger and hatred that she thought she would explode. "C-c-can't--" But in that moment, something totally weird happened. Maybe it was a flip of his head, a movement in his eyebrow, she couldn't tell. But it was as if someone had suddenly held a painting at a different angle, and what appeared to be a stormy sea transformed into a bright bouquet -- a trick of the eye that proved everything was just a matter of perspective. His eyes were not mocking at all. They were inviting her, asking her to laugh along. Suddenly, her rage billowed up and blew off in wisps, like a cloud. "You're ... a Cahill, too," she replied. "Touche." His eyes didn't move a millimeter from hers. This time she met his gaze. Solidly. This time she didn't feel like apologizing or attacking or running away. She wouldn't have minded if he just stared like that all day.
Peter Lerangis (The Sword Thief (The 39 Clues, #3))
A sense of humor is essentially a sense of perspective. It is an understanding that comes from a true sense of proportion. Humor is not a matter of laughing at things, but of understanding them. At its highest it is a part of understanding life. It is an ability to see ourselves as we are, and to smile at the comic figure that the biggest of us cuts in strutting across life's stage.
Nivard Kinsella (Unprofitable servants: Conferences on humility)
Even if you do die, I was thinking today, it's really only on the arbitrary human scale that a human life seems fort, or long, or whatever, and like, from the perspective of eternal time, the human life is vanishingly small, like it's really equivalent whether you live to be 17 or 94 or even 20,00 years old, which is obviosusly impossible, and then, on the other hand, from the perspective of an ultra-nanoinstant, which is the smallest measurable unit of time, a human life is almost infinite even if you die when you're like, a toddler. So either way it doesn't even matter how long you live. So I don't know if that makes you feel better, but it's just something to think about.
Jesse Andrews (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl)
The tool the Buddha holds out to free the mind from desire is understanding. Real renunciation is not a matter of compelling ourselves to give up things still inwardly cherished, but of changing our perspective on them so that they no longer bind us. When we understand the nature of desire, when we investigate it closely with keen attention, desire falls away by itself, without need for struggle.
Bhikkhu Bodhi (The Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering)
As our appreciation of happiness in relationship increases, we take notice of the things that tend to take us away from this feeling. One major catalyst taking us away is the need to be right. An opinion that is taken too seriously sets up conditions that must be met first before you can be happy. In relationships, this might sound like 'You must agree with or see my point of view in order for me to love and respect you.' In a more positive feeling state, this attitude would seem silly or harmful. We can disagree, even on important issues, and still love one another - when our own thought systems no longer have control over our lives and we see the innocence in our divergent points of view. The need to be right stems from an unhealthy relationship to your own thoughts. Do you believe your thoughts are representative of reality and need to be defended, or do you realize that realities are seen through different eyes? Your answer to this question will determine, to a large extent, your ability to remain in a positive feeling state. Everyone I know, who has put positive feeling above being right on their priority list has come to see that differences of opinion will take care of themselves.
Richard Carlson (You Can Be Happy No Matter What: Five Principles for Keeping Life in Perspective)
Truth changes with the season of our emotions. It is the shadow that moves with the phases of our inner sun. When the nights falls, only our perception can guess where it hides in the dark. Within every solar system of the soul lies a plan of what truth is--- the design God has created, in our own unique story. This is as varying as the constellations, and as turning as the tide. It is not one truth we live to, but many. If we ever hope to determine if there is such a thing as truth, apart from cultural and personal preferences, we must acknowledge that we are then aiming to discover something greater than ourselves, something that transcends culture and individual inclinations. Some say that we must look beyond ourselves and outside of ourselves. However, we don’t need to look farther than what is already in each other. If there was any great plan from a higher power it is a simplistic, repetitious theme found in all religions; the basic core importance to unity comes from shared theological and humanistic virtues. Beyond the synagogue, mosques, temples, churches, missionary work, church positions and religious rituals comes a simple “message of truth” found in all of us, that binds theology---holistic virtues combined with purpose is the foundation of spiritual evolution. The diversity among us all is not divided truth, but the opportunity for unity through these shared values. Truth is the framework and roadmap of positive virtues. It unifies diversity when we choose to see it and use it. It is simple message often lost among the rituals, cultural traditions and socializing that goes on behind the chapel doors of any religion or spiritual theology. As we fight among ourselves about what religion, culture or race is right, we often lose site of the simple message any great orator has whispered through time----a simplistic story explaining the importance of virtues, which magically reemphasizes the importance of loving one another through service.
Shannon L. Alder
I have what you might call “logical empathy” for people I don’t know. That is, I can understand that it’s a shame that those people died in the plane crash. And I understand they have families, and they are sad. But I don’t have any physical reaction to the news. And there’s no reason I should. I don’t know them and the news has no effect on my life. Yes, it’s sad, but the same day thousands of other people died from murder, accident, disease, natural disaster, and all manner of other causes. I feel I must put things like this in perspective and save my worry for things that truly matter to me.
John Elder Robison (Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's)
As a child, a teen, a young adult, I developed a firm belief in my solitude, the not-novel concept that we are each alone in the world. Some parts self-reliance, some parts self-protection, this belief offers a binary perspective - powerhouse or victim, complete responsibility or total divorcement, all in or out the door. Carried to its extreme, the idea gives license to the belief that one's own actions do not matter much; we traverse the world in our own bubbles, occasionally breaking through to one another but largely and ultimately alone.
Piper Kerman (Orange Is the New Black)
The kaleidoscope of experiences you have had this year are deeply meaningful and have enhanced your perspective on what actually matters. You have seen firsthand how fleeting and fragile life is and it has changed your DNA. Your tolerance for bullshit is lessening and although you are not always graceful with how you fight back, I love that you are a scrappy little lady. You are bored with the value system you see celebrated around you. Compromise is sometimes just manipulation and you are learning to identify that. You see a need for more people, women especially, to push back against the system that is in place and you've decided to do more of that. This experience will only turn up the volume on your voice the next time around. Hell yes to this and go go go.
Sara Bareilles (Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song)
And so we have come full circle, and return to the essential question: who are you? From a scientific perspective, you are miraculous. You are stardust. You contain the same energy and matter that created the universe 13 billion years ago. You were once that energy—inside the infinitesimally small point of light that began all of life. Everything around you, everything you can see, touch, and taste, is made of this matter, this same universal energy: the water that shines, the tree that reaches, the bird in flight, the grass that grows. The saints and sages across the ages said it this way: you are brothers and sisters with all of creation. If who you are and how things work are one and the same, then who you are is love.
Tom Shadyac (Life's Operating Manual: With the Fear and Truth Dialogues)
Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused—in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened—by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes—of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world who cannot call up such thoughts any day of the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire—fill the glass and send round the song—and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it offhand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse.
Charles Dickens (Sketches by Boz (Penguin Classics))
I did not write this work merely with the aim of setting the exegetical record straight. My larger target is those contemporaries who -- in repeated acts of wish-fulfillment -- have appropriated conclusions from the philosophy of science and put them to work in aid of a variety of social cum political causes for which those conclusions are ill adapted. Feminists, religious apologists (including "creation scientists"), counterculturalists, neoconservatives, and a host of other curious fellow-travelers have claimed to find crucial grist for their mills in, for instance, the avowed incommensurability and underdetermination of scientific theories. The displacement of the idea that facts and evidence matter by the idea that everything boils down to subjective interests and perspectives is -- second only to American political campaigns -- the most prominent and pernicious manifestation of anti-intellectualism in our time.
Larry Laudan (Science and Relativism: Some Key Controversies in the Philosophy of Science (Science and Its Conceptual Foundations series))
Is there a difference between happiness and inner peace? Yes. Happiness depends on conditions being perceived as positive; inner peace does not. Is it not possible to attract only positive conditions into our life? If our attitude and our thinking are always positive, we would manifest only positive events and situations, wouldn’t we? Do you truly know what is positive and what is negative? Do you have the total picture? There have been many people for whom limitation, failure, loss, illness, or pain in whatever form turned out to be their greatest teacher. It taught them to let go of false self-images and superficial ego-dictated goals and desires. It gave them depth, humility, and compassion. It made them more real. Whenever anything negative happens to you, there is a deep lesson concealed within it, although you may not see it at the time. Even a brief illness or an accident can show you what is real and unreal in your life, what ultimately matters and what doesn’t. Seen from a higher perspective, conditions are always positive. To be more precise: they are neither positive nor negative. They are as they are. And when you live in complete acceptance of what is — which is the only sane way to live — there is no “good” or “bad” in your life anymore. There is only a higher good — which includes the “bad.” Seen from the perspective of the mind, however, there is good-bad, like-dislike, love-hate. Hence, in the Book of Genesis, it is said that Adam and Eve were no longer allowed to dwell in “paradise” when they “ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment)
The sentiment behind the golden rule is great (treating others the way we wish to be treated ourselves). But nowadays we don’t even treat ourselves very well! We knowingly consume things that are bad for us, continue working at jobs we hate, and don’t spend half as much time relaxing as we do stressing. Come to think of it, we ARE treating others the way we treat ourselves: poorly! We feed our children junk food, opt for cheap instead of quality even when it matters, rarely give anyone our undivided attention, and demand a lot more from others than what is reasonable or even possible. Let’s try something new: let’s treat everybody as if we just found out they’re about to die. Why? Because it seems that’s the ONLY time we slow down enough to get a new perspective on life—either then or when we have a near-death experience ourselves. Be gentle, patient, kind and understanding. We’re all headed in the same direction, so let’s start treating each other better along the way!
Timber Hawkeye (Buddhist Boot Camp)
I've nothing against eye make-up and lipstick. But the fact is we're actually living on a planet in space. For me that's an extraordinary thought. It's mind-boggling just to think about the existence of space at all. But there are girls who can't see the universe for eye-liner. And there are probably boys whose eyes are never raised above the horizon because of football. There can be quite a chasm between a small make-up mirror and a proper mirror telescope! I think it's what they call a 'matter of perspective'. Perhaps it could also be called an 'eye-opener' as well. It's never too late to experience an eye-opener. But many people live their entire lives without realizing that they're floating through empty space. There's too much going on down here. It's hard enough thinking about your looks. We belong on this earth. I'm not trying to dispute it. We're part of nature's life on this planet. Monkeys and reptiles have shown us how we breed, and I have no quarrel with that. In different natural surroundings everything might have been very different, but here we are. And I repeat: I'm not denying it. I just don't think that prevent us from trying to see a little beyond the ends of our noses.
Jostein Gaarder (The Orange Girl)
Here we come to the central question of this book: What, precisely, does it mean to say that our sense of morality and justice is reduced to the language of a business deal? What does it mean when we reduce moral obligations to debts? What changes when the one turns into the other? And how do we speak about them when our language has been so shaped by the market? On one level the difference between an obligation and a debt is simple and obvious. A debt is the obligation to pay a certain sum of money. As a result, a debt, unlike any other form of obligation, can be precisely quantified. This allows debts to become simple, cold, and impersonal-which, in turn, allows them to be transferable. If one owes a favor, or one’s life, to another human being-it is owed to that person specifically. But if one owes forty thousand dollars at 12-percent interest, it doesn’t really matter who the creditor is; neither does either of the two parties have to think much about what the other party needs, wants, is capable of doing-as they certainly would if what was owed was a favor, or respect, or gratitude. One does not need to calculate the human effects; one need only calculate principal, balances, penalties, and rates of interest. If you end up having to abandon your home and wander in other provinces, if your daughter ends up in a mining camp working as a prostitute, well, that’s unfortunate, but incidental to the creditor. Money is money, and a deal’s a deal. From this perspective, the crucial factor, and a topic that will be explored at length in these pages, is money’s capacity to turn morality into a matter of impersonal arithmetic-and by doing so, to justify things that would otherwise seem outrageous or obscene. The factor of violence, which I have been emphasizing up until now, may appear secondary. The difference between a “debt” and a mere moral obligation is not the presence or absence of men with weapons who can enforce that obligation by seizing the debtor’s possessions or threatening to break his legs. It is simply that a creditor has the means to specify, numerically, exactly how much the debtor owes.
David Graeber (Debt: The First 5,000 Years)
The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses. To explain — since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation — every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake. The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife. Trin Tragula — for that was his name — was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot. And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake. “Have some sense of proportion!” she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day. And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex — just to show her. And into one end he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it. To Trin Tragula’s horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.
Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy omnibus 2: Tot ziens en bedankt voor de vis / Grotendeels ongevaarlijk / En dan nog iets… (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #4-6))
The more obsessed with personal identity campus liberals become, the less willing they become to engage in reasoned political debate. Over the past decade a new, and very revealing, locution has drifted from our universities into the media mainstream: 'Speaking as an X' . . . This is not an anodyne phrase. It tells the listener that I am speaking from a privileged position on this matter. (One never says, 'Speaking as an gay Asian, I fell incompetent to judge on this matter'). It sets up a wall against questions, which by definition come from a non-X perspective. And it turns the encounter into a power relation: the winner of the argument will be whoever has invoked the morally superior identity and expressed the most outrage at being questioned. So classroom conversations that once might have begun, 'I think A, and here is my argument', now take the form, 'Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B'. This makes perfect sense if you believe that identity determines everything. It means that there is no impartial space for dialogue. White men have one "epistemology", black women have another. So what remains to be said? What replaces argument, then, is taboo. At times our more privileged campuses can seem stuck in the world of archaic religion. Only those with an approved identity status are, like shamans, allowed to speak on certain matters. Particular groups -- today the transgendered -- are given temporary totemic significance. Scapegoats -- today conservative political speakers -- are duly designated and run off campus in a purging ritual. Propositions become pure or impure, not true or false. And not only propositions but simple words. Left identitarians who think of themselves as radical creatures, contesting this and transgressing that, have become like buttoned-up Protestant schoolmarms when it comes to the English language, parsing every conversation for immodest locutions and rapping the knuckles of those who inadvertently use them.
Mark Lilla (The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics)
There is a dark side to religious devotion that is too often ignored or denied. As a means of motivating people to be cruel or inhumane -- as a means of inciting evil, to borrow the vocabulary of the devout -- there may be no more potent force than religion. When the subject of religiously inspired bloodshed comes up, many Americans immediately think of Islamic fundamentalism, which is to be expected in the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. But men have been committing heinous acts in the name of God ever since mankind began believing in deities, and extremists exist within all religions. Muhammad is not the only prophet whose words have been used to sanction barbarism; history has not lacked for Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, and even Buddhists who have been motivated by scripture to butcher innocents. Plenty of these religious extremists have been homegrown, corn-fed Americans. Faith-based violence was present long before Osama bin Laden, and it ill be with us long after his demise. Religious zealots like bin Laden, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Shoko Asahara, and Dan Lafferty are common to every age, just as zealots of other stripes are. In any human endeavor, some fraction of its practitioners will be motivated to pursue that activity with such concentrated focus and unalloyed passion that it will consume them utterly. One has to look no further than individuals who feel compelled to devote their lives to becoming concert pianists, say, or climbing Mount Everest. For some, the province of the extreme holds an allure that's irresistible. And a certain percentage of such fanatics will inevitably fixate on the matters of the spirit. The zealot may be outwardly motivated by the anticipation of a great reward at the other end -- wealth, fame, eternal salvation -- but the real recompense is probably the obsession itself. This is no less true for the religious fanatic than for the fanatical pianist or fanatical mountain climber. As a result of his (or her) infatuation, existence overflows with purpose. Ambiguity vanishes from the fanatic's worldview; a narcissistic sense of self-assurance displaces all doubt. A delicious rage quickens his pulse, fueled by the sins and shortcomings of lesser mortals, who are soiling the world wherever he looks. His perspective narrows until the last remnants of proportion are shed from his life. Through immoderation, he experiences something akin to rapture. Although the far territory of the extreme can exert an intoxicating pull on susceptible individuals of all bents, extremism seems to be especially prevalent among those inclined by temperament or upbringing toward religious pursuits. Faith is the very antithesis of reason, injudiciousness a crucial component of spiritual devotion. And when religious fanaticism supplants ratiocination, all bets are suddenly off. Anything can happen. Absolutely anything. Common sense is no match for the voice of God...
Jon Krakauer (Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith)
The theological perspective of participation actually saves the appearances by exceeding them. It recognizes that materialism and spiritualism are false alternatives, since if there is only finite matter there is not even that, and that for phenomena really to be there they must be more than there. Hence, by appealing to an eternal source for bodies, their art, language, sexual and political union, one is not ethereally taking leave of their density. On the contrary, one is insisting that behind this density resides an even greater density – beyond all contrasts of density and lightness (as beyond all contrasts of definition and limitlessness). This is to say that all there is only is because it is more than it is. (...) This perspective should in many ways be seen as undercutting some of the contrasts between theological liberals and conservatives. The former tend to validate what they see as the modern embrace of our finitude – as language, and as erotic and aesthetically delighting bodies, and so forth. Conservatives, however, seem still to embrace a sort of nominal ethereal distancing from these realities and a disdain for them. Radical orthodoxy, by contrast, sees the historic root of the celebration of these things in participatory philosophy and incarnational theology, even if it can acknowledge that premodern tradition never took this celebration far enough. The modern apparent embrace of the finite it regards as, on inspection, illusory, since in order to stop the finite vanishing modernity must construe it as a spatial edifice bound by clear laws, rules and lattices. If, on the other hand, following the postmodern options, it embraces the flux of things, this is an empty flux both concealing and revealing an ultimate void. Hence, modernity has oscillated between puritanism (sexual or otherwise) and an entirely perverse eroticism, which is in love with death and therefore wills the death also of the erotic, and does not preserve the erotic as far as an eternal consummation. In a bizarre way, it seems that modernity does not really want what it thinks it wants; but on the other hand, in order to have what it thinks it wants, it would have to recover the theological. Thereby, of course, it would discover also that that which it desires is quite other than it has supposed
John Milbank (Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology (Routledge Radical Orthodoxy))
Last month, on a very windy day, I was returning from a lecture I had given to a group in Fort Washington. I was beginning to feel unwell. I was feeling increasing spasms in my legs and back and became anxious as I anticipated a difficult ride back to my office. Making matters worse, I knew I had to travel two of the most treacherous high-speed roads near Philadelphia – the four-lane Schuylkill Expressway and the six-lane Blue Route. You’ve been in my van, so you know how it’s been outfitted with everything I need to drive. But you probably don’t realize that I often drive more slowly than other people. That’s because I have difficulty with body control. I’m especially careful on windy days when the van can be buffeted by sudden gusts. And if I’m having problems with spasms or high blood pressure, I stay way over in the right hand lane and drive well below the speed limit. When I’m driving slowly, people behind me tend to get impatient. They speed up to my car, blow their horns, drive by, stare at me angrily, and show me how long their fingers can get. (I don't understand why some people are so proud of the length of their fingers, but there are many things I don't understand.) Those angry drivers add stress to what already is a stressful experience of driving. On this particular day, I was driving by myself. At first, I drove slowly along back roads. Whenever someone approached, I pulled over and let them pass. But as I neared the Blue Route, I became more frightened. I knew I would be hearing a lot of horns and seeing a lot of those long fingers. And then I did something I had never done in the twenty-four years that I have been driving my van. I decided to put on my flashers. I drove the Blue Route and the Schuylkyll Expressway at 35 miles per hour. Now…Guess what happened? Nothing! No horns and no fingers. But why? When I put on my flashers, I was saying to the other drivers, “I have a problem here – I am vulnerable and doing the best I can.” And everyone understood. Several times, in my rearview mirror I saw drivers who wanted to pass. They couldn’t get around me because of the stream of passing traffic. But instead of honking or tailgating, they waited for the other cars to pass, knowing the driver in front of them was in some way weak. Sam, there is something about vulnerability that elicits compassion. It is in our hard wiring. I see it every day when people help me by holding doors, pouring cream in my coffee, or assist me when I put on my coat. Sometimes I feel sad because from my wheelchair perspective, I see the best in people. But those who appear strong and invulnerably typically are not exposed to the kindness I see daily. Sometimes situations call for us to act strong and brave even when we don't feel that way. But those are a few and far between. More often, there is a better pay-off if you don't pretend you feel strong when you feel weak, or pretend that you are brave when you’re scared. I really believe the world might be a safer place if everyone who felt vulnerable wore flashers that said, “I have a problem and I’m doing the best I can. Please be patient!
Daniel Gottlieb (Letters to Sam: A Grandfather's Lessons on Love, Loss, and the Gifts of Life)
A woman named Cynthia once told me a story about the time her father had made plans to take her on a night out in San Francisco. Twelve-year-old Cynthia and her father had been planning the “date” for months. They had a whole itinerary planned down to the minute: she would attend the last hour of his presentation, and then meet him at the back of the room at about four-thirty and leave quickly before everyone tried to talk to him. They would catch a tram to Chinatown, eat Chinese food (their favourite), shop for a souvenir, see the sights for a while and then “catch a flick” as her dad liked to say. Then they would grab a taxi back to the hotel, jump in the pool for a quick swim (her dad was famous for sneaking in when the pool was closed), order a hot fudge sundae from room service, and watch the late, late show. They discussed the details over and over again before they left. The anticipation was part of the whole experience. This was all going according to plan until, as her father was leaving the convention centre, he ran into an old college friend and business associate. It had been years since they had seen each other, and Cynthia watched as they embraced enthusiastically. His friend said, in effect: “I am so glad you are doing some work with our company now. When Lois and I heard about it we thought it would be perfect. We want to invite you, and of course Cynthia, to get a spectacular seafood dinner down at the Wharf!” Cynthia’s father responded: “Bob, it’s so great to see you. Dinner at the wharf sounds great!” Cynthia was crestfallen. Her daydreams of tram rides and ice cream sundaes evaporated in an instant. Plus, she hated seafood and she could just imagine how bored she would be listening to the adults talk all night. But then her father continued: “But not tonight. Cynthia and I have a special date planned, don’t we?” He winked at Cynthia and grabbed her hand and they ran out of the door and continued with what was an unforgettable night in San Francisco. As it happens, Cynthia’s father was the management thinker Stephen R. Covey (author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) who had passed away only weeks before Cynthia told me this story. So it was with deep emotion she recalled that evening in San Francisco. His simple decision “Bonded him to me forever because I knew what mattered most to him was me!” she said.5 One simple answer is we are unclear about what is essential. When this happens we become defenceless. On the other hand, when we have strong internal clarity it is almost as if we have a force field protecting us from the non-essentials coming at us from all directions. With Rosa it was her deep moral clarity that gave her unusual courage of conviction. With Stephen it was the clarity of his vision for the evening with his loving daughter. In virtually every instance, clarity about what is essential fuels us with the strength to say no to the non-essentials. Stephen R. Covey, one of the most respected and widely read business thinkers of his generation, was an Essentialist. Not only did he routinely teach Essentialist principles – like “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing” – to important leaders and heads of state around the world, he lived them.6 And in this moment of living them with his daughter he made a memory that literally outlasted his lifetime. Seen with some perspective, his decision seems obvious. But many in his shoes would have accepted the friend’s invitation for fear of seeming rude or ungrateful, or passing up a rare opportunity to dine with an old friend. So why is it so hard in the moment to dare to choose what is essential over what is non-essential?
Greg McKeown (Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less)