Perspective is such a funny thing. A different perspective transforms — it gives new meaning. Our perspective dictates the way we see the world, and for every one perspective there is an equal and opposite perspective. What I mean is this: Two people look at a picture, and suddenly it’s two different pictures.
For example: The Cold War from the U.S. perspective — “Russia is evil!” Conversely, The Cold War from the Soviet perspective — “The U.S is evil!”
How you look at something is everything. To a human, poop is gross. To a dog? It’s a snack.
So it’s been cold this week. Really cold. But again, there’s that tricky issue of perspective — what is cold? It really depends how you look at it. From a perspective of “I will only tolerate and be happy with 70-plus degree weather,” then yes, life is a bummer during January and February.
But is that a rational perspective? We human beings live on a giant rock that’s hurdling through space. There are tons of giant rocks of similar shape and size scattered throughout the known universe. What’s special about ours? The temperature! (Presumably.)
From the perspective of life, we have perfect weather. It’s just cold enough so that we don’t melt, and just warm enough so that we don’t freeze. But we never think about it that way. We’re only happy if it’s 78 degrees and sunny. So we’re miserable all winter.
I believe this is a widespread psychological problem we face everyday as humans — we can’t let ourselves appreciate things. It’s human nature. We take simple blessings for granted because they become standard. Accepting things as standard is an ever-spoiling perspective. It inhibits our happiness when we get stuck in the wrong perspective — the perspective of entitlement.
Another example: I can’t begin to count how many complaints I’ve already heard about the food at BU this semester.
“The food at the dining hall was so bad today I couldn’t even eat there, dude.”
Really? It’s that bad?
It has every single kind of food you could ever imagine — chicken, pizza, burgers, bread, bagels, sandwiches, soup, salad … I mean there’s literally a section just for mac ‘n’ cheese. There are 17 different kinds of cookies. There’s an ice cream machine. There are sections devoted to good health, to bad health … to anything you want. You can drink soda, lemonade, water … six different kinds of milk.
If you’re “not in the mood” for anything in the dining hall, then you’re not in the mood for being in a good mood. Especially at BU. I’ve attended two other universities. Trust me — BU has some damn good dining halls.
And if you don’t like one of them, just go to one of the other massive eateries. Most schools only have one. Think about it this way — a lot of people don’t have a steady source of food! And yet we students are complaining about a place where we can grab any prepared dish we can imagine, then ice cream, then cake — all while watching HD TVs?
By no means do I preach complacency, but I just think we’d all be a little happier if we could appreciate what we have from a reasonable perspective, and not actively seek ways to complain. I never hear anyone say, “I had Mongolian beef stew for lunch today. Can you believe that? We live 6,000 miles from Mongolia, but there it was. It was delicious! And someone else made it and served it.” It’s usually more like this “Ugh. The line for burritos was so long so I had to have pizza instead.”
Life is so hard.
I don’t believe in settling. I don’t believe in being satisfied. I believe in chasing dreams and moving mountains. I believe in imagining. I believe in problem-solving.
But I also believe in rationality and happiness. And I believe that far too often we let our own grumpy natures get in our way. I believe we ignore blessings every day because we grow accustomed to them.
Do you ever wake up and think how strange and beautiful it is just to be a living thing? How astronomical and amazing the odds of such are? You’re a human! Or maybe just a crazy-smart chimp. Either way. You can read. You have cognitive abilities. Isn’t that wild? Don’t you feel lucky?
It’s good to be driven. It’s good to shoot for the stars. It’s good to desire the best. But why not be happy along the way? Why not let ourselves appreciate the magic around us?
A little perspective goes a long way.
Frank Marasco is a senior in the College of Communication and a guest columnist for The Daily Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org