Pillar One: Perspective

Perspective: There Are Many Different Angles

It’s the chapter title for Desmond Tutu’s, the Dalai Lama’s, and Douglas Abram’s first chapter on the Eight Pillars of Joy [Book of Joy, New York: Avery, 2016, p. 193]. In a nutshell, the main point is that how we experience something is a matter of how we look at it as well as a matter of what we are looking at:

A healthy perspective really is the foundation of joy and happiness, because the way we see the world is the way we experience the world. Changing the way we see the world in turn changes the way we feel and the way we act, which changes the world itself. Or, as the Buddha says in Dhammapada, “With our mind we create our own world.” (p.194)

Taking a broader perspective, thinking long-term rather than immediate, and including the wants and needs of others in our deliberations can get us out of our small box reality and into something larger and more life-giving.  That’s true, but there’s more…

Sometimes a narrower focus brings to light beauty and joy that often goes unnoticed. This is especially true when life isn’t difficult. The value of a single tree can get lost in the forest.

Zooming in or stepping back, a change of perspective can open hearts and minds to the joy that each day holds, and sustain the soul in all circumstances.

What a marvelous thing that is.

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

4 thoughts on “Pillar One: Perspective”

  1. As I used to tell my class, it is often better to have a viewing point than a point of view. And now as I reflect I must recognize it is A viewing POINT. Changing positions/my stance, I have a have changed my viewing point. Which one is “correct”? Well, I suppose both, eh? At some point I have a point of view though I must be aware it is still only A point of view and though I may commit to it, there remains some openness as to its unerring veracity. So I listen to understand the others understanding. Happy are the poor in spirit. Sorry–got carried away here.

    1. Thanks, Bill! Point of view vs. view point – such a good way to distinguish one from the other. Isn’t it a marvelous gift of reality that in moving our particular position the entire world can be renewed? Peace, Johnna

      1. Yes it is. As Dr. Wayne Dyer has said: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

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