The Path to a Better Perspective
Throughout my life I have done a ton of less than intelligent, odd, dangerous, and new things. When I went camping as a child, I cooked sticks over the fire and then attempted to eat them. I had this ambitious idea that all burnt stuff tasted the same, so developing a taste for it may have been an invaluable survival skill. I was both wrong and a weird kid. There was also the "Half-Sandwich Incident”, which consisted of me always making an entire sandwich, eating half, and putting the rest in the fridge. This seemed sensible at the time, but my loving family kindly pointed out that I could have cut one slice of bread in half rather than making an entire sandwich.
My ratio of trying something and stopping rather than continue using it is probably 9:1. I’m actually proud of that. That ratio has allowed me to try every sport and job under the sun. Among other things, I have been a lawnmower, baby-sitter, peach transportation assistant, builder at a hardware store, paper boy, pizza boy, paint and glitter factory assembly line worker, mechanic’s assistant, construction worker, accountant, and most recently a data analyst.
As you can imagine, I’ve encountered a wide array of personalities during my time at each position. Every person along the way has been incredibly distinct from one another. Some were intimidating at first, others odd, some shy, but I’ve tried to approach everyone knowing that they have a life story I’m completely unfamiliar with. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote "Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.". By asking people what they enjoy doing, not only will they be ecstatic to tell somebody about their passion, but you get to reap the benefits of learning from a potentially great teacher. It’s an incredible opportunity for both parties involved! It’s in this exact manner that I have learned about things like sailing, cars, cats, machine learning, fishing, Norway, hockey, model planes, crochet, “Dungeons and Dragons”, engineering, and everything else that falls on my path. Many of these I would have never gone out of my way to research. Not only do I learn something new, but now I can ask more valuable questions with a deeper understanding of those topics in the future.
How does this all relate to perspective? By constantly asking questions and being exposed to new topics, you will hone the skill of reframing your mind. It’s one thing to see someone else’s point of view, but another to understand it. Each of us has bias in the way we think because we are only ever able to use our own brain. As an analytical thinker, I love having more information in order to understand the world around us. When it comes to talking with others, it’s no different. The more people you talk to regarding any subject, the better you will understand. It’s for this reason that I find having less information from more sources is often more valuable than a ton of information from one source.
Whether you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert, it will take time to cultivate your ability to talk and truly listen to people. I am an introvert myself, but by practicing this over time I have been able to talk with people far more comfortably. If you would like help with exactly that, I highly recommend “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.
By combining all of this, your life will see so many benefits. Be sure to talk to people whenever you can relate in some way. Are they wearing a hat with a logo of your favorite team? Walk over and ask about it. Who knows what you will learn by the end. After all you take in, compare it to what you already know. Did they mention anything controversial to your understanding? Keep that in mind. In today’s day an age, it is difficult to weed out fact from fiction. Even if you aren’t positive something is true, you now have more context to consider and make better conclusions in the future. Having those conversations is the quickest way to both grow and discover what you love. Through this method, you rapidly develop the ability to see from someone else’s side with far more context than before. All of this considered, there is absolutely no way for anyone to know everything going on in someone else’s head. So be kind to others, smile at one another, remember that everything is better shared, and trust that you will never understand the full context of what someone is dealing with in their life.