How Perspective Allows you to Gain Control over Life
Updated: Mar 11, 2020
More than the body, it is one’s own mind that an individual relates to and identifies with. If this may not appear to you as obvious as the statement suggests, it can be understood by observing how an individual refers to situation of its body and situation of its mind. “My hand is hurt. I am in pain” is one example. The condition of body is suggested like that of a possession, the condition of mind as oneself!
Consequently, more than that for the body, people strive to achieve a state of pleasure of the mind. Usually these pleasures compliment each other where the pleasure of body induces a pleasure of mind and the opposite, but the obvious superiority of mind can be seen in situations where mind chooses to receive pleasure at the cost of pain to the body. Thus an individual’s state of happiness or contentment comes from a state of mind predominantly. And the mind is responsible to taking decisions that it sees fit for its pleasure and well being.
This decision making hence becomes the first step of willful action of mind, the consequences of which influence an individual’s body, surroundings, relationships and also the mind — the factors of life that an individual cherishes and controls towards achieving one’s purpose of life. The decisions an individual makes are definitely one of the biggest directors of one’s life.
But the mind is not a rational, composed and calculative entity as an ideal decision maker ought to be. It remains in a dynamic flux of emotions, thoughts and memories — most of which may function beyond one’s conscious capability. At any time, some factors of this flux dominate the other factors, hence biasing the decision making in a particular manner. This biased decision-making may obviously be expected to land a person into self instigated undesirable situations.
Although an individual may not entirely control his life and will always be subjected to external circumstances, most of one’s concerns may be self-initiated.
Across evolution, mind got designed to pay attention to specific things, to focus on some; and to make other thoughts and emotions blurred or dormant as it had a survival advantage. Being able to divert all of mind’s resources to the task of immediate need was critical — One could not afford to be distracted by ten different thoughts while evading a predator. Our ancestors were only expected to make immediate to short term decisions with a small span of influence and thus this focus was helpful.
However, globalization of current times require us to make long term decisions with broad influence on ourselves, other humans, economy, society, culture, planet and a lot more. The innate tendency to focus on specific — rather the inability to consider the holistic — affects the mind into making biased decisions of long term consequences in accordance only with the whim of the moment or short term benefits, decisions that may have appeared unreasonable had the mind been in a different ‘zone’.
Thus it may be asserted that in the current situation of broad and long term decision making, the ‘evolutionary’ mind is being used for the purpose it was not designed for. Another example of using the mind for a purpose that it was not designed for can be seen in my article “Evolutionary Ambition and its Contemporary Effects.”
The first step to overcome this limitation is to develop the mind to function beyond the whims and fluctuating tendencies; to think consciously, with equanimity in broader, holistic terms when the situation requires; to understand one’s subconscious tendencies through ruthless introspection and to grow beyond their reach by understanding them. To think calmly about any decision is critical for it to fruit productively. But that is not all. Though one may think calmly, a decision made with a narrow perspective can have adverse effects in a broader one.
Hence the obvious second step becomes cultivating a perspective that allows for holistic thinking. Our mind learns through experiences — and experiences belonging to a narrow domain usually account to a narrow perspective.
Merely attempting to think broadly is not the same as experiencing a broad domain — former is the product of mind and mind is the product of latter.
All of us have seen images of earth from space, we know that it is huge. But do you think that experience of looking at Earth from space would be same as looking at a high resolution image, I suppose not. The right experiences — belonging to a broad domain of life — can develop a mind to think with a broader perspective, thereby allowing for holistic decision making and control over one’s life. Following is my favorite example that summarizes this in very few words.
Developing such perspective and equanimity in younger minds ought to be emphasized through right educational systems. In an analogy that may be better understood, educational systems for young minds should work on developing processing capability rather than getting the process done — which is equivalent to squeezing the required percentages out of them. Such a change may allow humans to develop towards a more productive and coherent existence.