The Power of Perspective

In my college art class, we had an interesting exercise that involved perspective. We copied a work of art, both right side up and upside down. I chose to copy “Girl with Beret” by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot:

Girl with Beret original drawing

“Girl with Beret” by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot

I had fun with the exercise, sketching as close a copy of the original image as I could.

Copy of Girl in Beret sketch

Left is my copy of the original right side up.
Right is my copy of the original upside down.

The drawing on the left is a closer copy. I like to think of it as the mask worn for the outer world: polite, compliant, and polished, while the drawing on the right is the interior: a little less perfectly put together, more delicate and vulnerable. The expression in her eyes, with the slight upward curl of one side of her mouth, seems to express both boredom and a secret. Same subject, different perspectives.

Perspective is powerful. When we don’t have all the information, our minds fill in the blanks as best they can, based on our vantage point. That’s why two people can witness the same thing and give not just different, but even conflicting, accounts.

It’s like the metaphor of three blind men describing an elephant based on touch. Each was right about the part he touched, but wrong when he tried to describe the elephant as a whole, based on his limited perception.

We do that when we take a negative perspective and blanket our experiences with it.

Our perspectives are never really complete, and yet we base our beliefs and behavior on them. We absorb a lot of negative beliefs through the years, and when we base our actions on them, they skew the outcome.

What is your dream? What do you want to do the most in the world? Are you doing it? If not, why?

I’m not dismissing the real barriers and roadblocks that hinder you. I’m asking you to take a closer look at your beliefs about them.

If your dream is to write, but your perspective is “I’m not talented enough to write,” what is the result?

What if you tried on a different perspective? How about “I write because I have something to say”? How does that feel?

You are choosing your perspective right now—either consciously or unconsciously. And you can consciously choose a different perspective.

This is a powerful truth. It opens windows and unlocks doors.

Think of a perspective that really isn’t helping you. Write it down. Then beside it, write a few other perspectives you could choose. Then sit quietly and take the time let yourself feel what each perspective is like.

Which one resonates with you the most? (It may not be the one you expected.) Try it on. Wear it around the rest of the day.

How does it change your view of what’s possible for you?

Remember, you always have a choice.

The Soul is Here for Its Own Joy

Rumi had it right. The soul is here for its own joy, among other things. That quote often comes to mind when I’m doing something I love, like walking my dog Lucy on a sunny, blue-skied, summer morning.

Cute dog wearing hat

Lucy wearing one of my hats

Those moments—spending time with the family member I often call Sweetie Face—bring me joy. (Right now she’s halfway on my lap, demanding my attention. Her goofy face makes me laugh!)

Could I live without a dog? Maybe. Could I thrive without a dog? Absolutely not.

What do you need to thrive? In hopes of inspiring your list, here is a partial list of mine:

  • Quiet time in the morning
  • Deep talks with my husband
  • Lots of laughter
  • Walks with my dog
  • Learning
  • The ocean
  • Painting
  • Stories and new worlds! (Books, movies)
  • Writing
  • Flowers
  • Travel (exploring)
  • Stretching and working out
  • Connection

Take a closer look.

What do you need to thrive? Make a list and order them, top to bottom, by most essential to least essential. (My list above is not ordered.)

Look at the top five, and note how often you need each one before your life feels out of balance and your stress level rises. Is it once a day, once a week, once a month?


  • What’s life like for you if you don’t get those things in the frequency you need?
  • How often do you put those things off, telling yourself you’ll get to them next week, or next month, or next year?
  • What is the cost to your spirit when you put those things off?
    What is the cost to your body? Your mind?

How can you bring more joy into your life?

Woman running with balloons

We all have life circumstances that get in the way of those things—some of the time. But how much more free time could you have, if you made different choices about how you spend your time?

To determine how much time you actually have in a week, subtract the time you spend doing each activity listed below, from the total number of hours in a week (168 hours):

  • Working/commuting
  • Spending time with your family
  • Doing Housework
  • Cooking/eating
  • Exercising
  • Participating in leisure activities (TV, books, computer games)
  • Sleeping
  • Other

What’s the total number of free hours you have? Is it more time than you expected? Or less?

Make a commitment to yourself

In the next week, schedule time to do one of the top five things on your list. Tell someone close to you that this is a commitment you’re making to yourself, and ask for support and accountability.

Then, do it. Notice how it affects your attitude, your energy, your joy.

Next, ask yourself what you want to commit to doing the following week.

What lights you up?

Schedule it. And do it! (This is how you build new habits that support who you are.)

Wishing you a week of new discoveries and joy!