Is Perspectivism Hard?


Is Perspectivism Hard?

I hear this comment often about Practical Perspectivism: “I get it, I agree really, but it’s really hard to do, isn’t it?”  Well, yeah, I suppose it’s kind of hard.  Except that living without it is even harder.  Let me explain.

Sure, it is hard to wrest control of our emotions, to exercise some degree of conscious thought over how we see things, how we feel about things, what we think about them.  I mean, it’s a busy world, we’re being bombarded with information constantly, distracted by events swirling around us.  It’s quite challenging to be present, in the moment, at all, at any moment, or for any length of time, let alone continuously.  Think of meditative practices, the rigmarole that typically goes into preparing for and getting into the “meditative” state: a set aside time frame, a quiet space, careful organization to avoid interruptions. It’s a lot to get right.

Living a Perspectivist Life, a constant meditation, is likewise challenging.  It takes effort.  And practice.  And patience with yourself.  And thinking about doing it as well as doing it.  You generally have to want it in order to do it.  You have to believe you can.  You have to forgive yourself when you slip and get right back on the horse.  Like anything worthwhile, it takes work.  But here’s the thing – and this is really important to remember: like most everything else as well, the more you do it, the easier it gets.  Eventually, it becomes like the proverbial and literal riding of a bike.  And in the end, being happier, and happy more of the time, is actually way easier than not being happy.  And much more attractive.  People want to be around you, and have you around.  People are happy to see you.  People are ready to forgive you.

If you want to talk about hard, talk about being unhappy.  Oh, you may say its easy to give in, to not strive for happiness, to sit back and let the world, and life, just happen to you.  Sure, on the one hand, that’s an easy way out. But searching all the time, being a downer for others – you know, it’s not very attractive at all.  Your health suffers, your job performance suffers, your family life suffers.  Oh, it may be hard to live happy, but it’s much harder to live unhappy.  And living happy gets easier over time, while living unhappy only gets harder.

Of course, one can try to turn the Perspectivist on its head, one can say, thinking as one who doesn’t want to put in the effort: “Sure, it’s easy to give in, to not try.  Just let it all wash over you and let yourself be buffeted about by the winds of the world.”

That’s one perspective.  And it’s true. To a point.  But what is the point?  It is true: for a life that is commonly perceived by the one living it, and it’s observers, as unfulfilled, uninspired, uninteresting, unenviable, underwhelming – and barely worth living; a life that takes the wind out of the sails of life, that is a drain instead of a fount.

The Perspectivist can just as easily say, expanding their thinking to admit to effort, to admit to commitment, to admit to a challenge: “Sure, I can give in, and give up – but I can also stand up, give it a go, rise to the challenge of living a life alive, vibrant.  I can put in the effort, attend to myself, be responsible for myself and my own emotional state; I can stop blaming others, and other events, other circumstances; I can stop accepting that those things I cannot control have power over me, and I hereby declare the most powerful effector in my life is my own self.”

This is another perspective. And it is equally true. To a point, and just maybe beyond all points.  It is open-ended.  It is empowering.  It’s true: for a life that is rich, colorful, inspired and inspiring, full of fascination and wonder, and a model for others.

This is also Perspectivism.  We can see there are many ways to view the same thing.  There are two sides of the coin, at least.  But there are ways to look at, and live in, the world that are fun, and healthy, and happy – and in the end, easier.  And there are ways to look at the world that seem easy on their face, but are actually not fun, not happy, and in the end, much harder on so many levels.

The choice is yours…and yours only.  Own it.  Accept responsibility.  It’s worth it.