What is perspective?

How do we achieve it?

If we look to our friends at Merriam-Webster.com:

  1. mental view or prospect
  2. visible scene
  3. the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed
  4. the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance
  5. the appearance to the eye of objects in respect to their relative distance and positions
  6. the technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye

For this, let’s take out the artistic view of perspective- we all get that if we are creating art, you look at things a certain way, 2D vs 3D, whatever…

Let’s look at perspective as a way of viewing the world as in opinions. How do our opinions get formed?

If you get bit by a dog, are you then afraid of dogs? Do you form a bias against them because you have been harmed, and sometimes there is no going back once you’ve lost your innocence?

If you ate Indian food once and your stomach did not fair well, does your perspective about eating it change?

If you went to Rome and had the time of your life, do you then continue to extol the virtues of that city to everyone you meet for the rest of your life?

The above examples are ones of trial and error- you did A, the result was B, so now your opinion on the subject is C.

Fine- you sort of understand the perspective, how it was formed, etc.

But what about the person who says I hate opera, but has never been to one? Where did the I hate opera perspective come from? Can you hate something that you have never tried or have not seen firsthand?

Think about the things you love, and the things you hate: how did you come to those opinions? Did you form them based on personal experience? Or did you form them from things you heard on the news or read somewhere?

Give me your perspective on perspective:

40 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. Well of course the “I hate…” syndrome is learned behavior. This is Pavlov at his best-make someone vulnerable and then train someone up to respond in a specific way. This is not perspective- this is conditioning

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  2. The subconscious mind can be a bully. I’ll expand on this another time, but as Deb says, there’s a Pavlov connection here. I have many many drafted posts on this topic for another time.

    I look at perspective also from the life experience side, particularly when I’m exposed to a perspective of a person who has very little life experience to draw from (my teens, for instance).

    Doesn’t take away or invalidate their perspective, but it gives ME extra perspective on my own, much broader perspective, if that makes sense. Perhaps my kids’ perspective hadn’t entered my mind, and now I have even more…

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  3. In my experience, we’re conditioned to hate. We learn that one from external sources.
    I think loving something is much more personal, therefore comes from internal sources.
    Perspective can be tweaked and altered, but beneath that, I suspect we actually know our truth.

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  4. I think a lot of perspective has to do with personal experience. However, somehow it’s more than that. For example, I’ve never been skydiving or bungee jumping and I hate it although I have no experience doing it. But because I have a fear of heights, I hate it.

    Do we make generalizations? I got bit by a terrier but I had a good experience with a golden retriever. Now do I hate all dogs because a negative experience/fear outweighs a positive one in my mind? You have given me something to think about.

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  5. Experiences, age, values, and other ways of processing things all affect our perspective. I don’t have to Actually jump out of a plane to know that my fear of heights would make that a horrific activity for me. In fact writing about it gives me a swirling feeling in my gut. But over time and having personal experiences does indeed shape how we view things.
    When I was in college I was of the mindset that I wouldn’t enjoy Opera. I didn’t particularly like the sound of the songs I heard when an Opera singer performed on a variety show, (which were extremely popular in the 50’s and 60’s, when I was growing up).

    So when I was a senior in college I had a couple credits Left in order to graduate, so I took a voice class. The university of Miami had a fabulous Theater and drama dept but also an incredible music dept. so since I only had a few credits left I took a voice/ music appreciation class to fill my 2 credits. I loved music. My voice was ok but not my best talent. I was aware since elementary school when I made the chorus as a second soprano, that I wasn’t musically gifted. I could sing but my range was limited. It didn’t matter to me because I loved to sing, and when I played guitar and sang in a rock group, I didn’t have to sound like Judy Collins or Joni Mitchell. And thought that Just like John Lennon wrote fabulous lyrics, his range as a singer was limited. (But he still was awesome to me). So my perspective was that folk and rock music was awesome but opera was awful!

    Anyhow, for the class I did learn how to stretch my range a little, but I was required to see an opera and hand write a paper on all aspects of the performance. I loved theater but dreaded going to an opera.. I went to see Madam Butterfly which was playing locally. Boy was I surprised. It was wonderful. I wept, I applauded, I loved it. I had no idea how fabulous it would be. So my perspective was all wrong. It wasn’t stuffy, or just for rich old white People. It held my attention, the plot was excellent, the costumes brilliant, the performances amazing!. My point of view had been wrong. Usually I’m pretty perceptive but not always ! I learned to wait before drawing conclusions.

    Sometimes we need to stretch our experiences before making judgements. I’m glad I learned that early in life. It’s too easy to get into a rut and not look at things with an open mind and from all points of view before passing judgement. Our perspective can change when we look deeper. I try to look at things from all POV. Sometimes my perceptions are wrong. And sometimes my first viewpoint is spot on. But, without looking deeper I’d never really know!

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    1. Stretch experiences for sure. I get not doing things out of real fear, like someone afraid of heights not skydiving…there’s rationale as to why you don’t like it. But saying you don’t like Thai food when you’ve never tried it, is wrong. Like, I don’t like sushi, but I’ve tried it, and while some things are good, for the most part I’m not ordering it

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  6. I think stepping outside our little mindset is CRUCIAL but that we’ve created too big of an arena for many to handle this appropriately. Fueled by fear, we often allow ourselves to listen to an echo chamber of limiting factors. Look at how divisive people have become; how open we are online but closed in real life.

    Anyway; specifically about perspective, I think we all need to do some safe but necessary things periodically in order to keep an open-enough mind to get along with others. These include: travel, trying different occupations (food service worker, in particular!), reading reading reading, watching films on subjects like history or art, taking college or equivalent courses on a variety of subjects, and having a long conversation with someone of an opposite viewpoint.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Chelsea. As long as we converse politely with others who think differently, I believe it’s wonderful to share ideas with people who have opposing viewpoints. We all tend to live with or have friendships with likeminded people. And so most of us live in our own narrow little worlds not realizing how differently others may think. I tend to stay away from combative discussions on social media because people can be cruel if they perceive you as different. But, it’s only through learning and becoming knowledgeable about how others think or live, Will we come to understand and feel love and compassion for our fellow neighbors. I’ve often wondered why people are prejudice. People usually feel that way when they feel threatened. Or insecure.So the more dialogue the better.

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  7. One day, after juggling kids, school, teaching, performance gigs and a husband, I called my Ma. I said one thing: “Ma, my world is getting to be so small, too small.” Her response? “Then make it bigger.”
    I dunno, just seemed to fit here for you to consider in the discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. If you close one eye, you lose depth perception. You then are forced to see everything from a slightly different perspective. Not necessarily a better one, unless you like running into things. When you close your mind to any (reasonable?) viewpoint, how does that affect your perception and perspective?

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  9. Unless we choose to utilise a different mindset to our own, everything is seen through the lens of our life and our experiences. That’s why it’s so important to engage with those of different life experiences and viewpoints. Unfortunately, social media’s algorithms simply give you more of what you already like (and know, and believe) – so that each person ends up believing they’re right, because that’s the evidence they see. This belief is strengthened by the fact that they see nothing of opposing views or experiences. The recent experiment of making Fox news viewers watch CNN news instead, seems to bears this out.

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  10. Can you hate something that you have never tried or have not seen firsthand?

    Interesting question. My immediate thought was no, of course not, that’s unfair bias. But then I remembered certain orange-haired politicians and immediately changed my tune.

    Yes. Yes, you can.

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  11. I like to think most of my perspectives come from lived experience with things and people; however, there are some perspectives I’ve developed based on what I see in the media about things and people.

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  12. Sounds to me like we only know what we know from our own personal experience until w allow ourselves to walk a mile in the other guys shoes. Maybe that’s the difference between narrow and personal perspective vs wider perspective that’s personal to the other guy and his experience.

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