Freeport, ME, May 21, 2021
A Matter of Perspective: Finding the Big in the Small Things
So much of life is a matter of perspective. Famed Depression-era photographer, Dorothea Lange said, “While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.” While Lange is talking about the power of a photograph, the sentiment can be applied to the different ways we see, and don’t see, the world around us.
What appears boring at first blush can be rich and interesting below the surface. What seems mundane or even annoying can also hold awe and wonder upon closer look.
Shifting our perspective isn’t just about being “happier” or putting on rose-colored glasses. And it’s not always a permanent change in how we see. It’s a small choice we can make in any moment. Let’s take going on a walk for example. There are walks when we’re trying to get somewhere. We have a destination, and that’s our focus. But that’s not the only way to take a walk. Researchers found that when people took a “fresh look” at the things around them during a 15-minute walk (just 15!), they were more upbeat and hopeful in general than walkers who did not.
It was as simple as applying a new lens—cultivating awe—during their time outside.
The Japanese practice of forest bathing also requires a shift in perspective, specifically your intention and attention. When you’re forest bathing, your intention is on experiencing nature in a new way and your attention is not on a destination, but tuned into what’s around you—the sounds, sights, and smells of the forest.
When is the last time you turned over a stone in your yard? Took a big inhale at your local park? Felt the rain on your face? Paid attention to the colors of the season around you? These tiny acts, small shifts in perception, can fundamentally change your experience with the outdoors, allowing you to find what’s big, awe-inspiring, and wonderful, in the small things.