Don’t get locked into your own limited point of view. See the world through someone else’s lens.
Travel may be one of the greatest opportunities to change your perspective about, well, anything. Immerse yourself in a different culture and a stroll down the street, your morning coffee, or a chat with a local shopkeeper take on completely new meanings. Go a little deeper to learn about the history, economy and education system of the country and it might change your perspective about your own.
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My husband and I recently returned from Vietnam, where we traveled the country from Hanoi in the north to Hue in the central region and to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, in the south. Vietnam was a revelation in terms of perspective-shifting. I was in high school during the Vietnam War and lived in Japan when it officially ended, but was still going on clandestinely, so I was relatively familiar with its history. But the fact that what I’d always known as the Vietnam War was called the American War in Vietnam came as a surprise.
Because I was locked into my own limited perspective. But now I was seeing history through the eyes of people who had experienced it. Visiting the War Remnants Museum, which traced the history of the war through photo-journalism, maps and machines of war was sobering, to say the least. But the vibrancy of the culture, the friendliness of the people and the freshness of the food were all delightful. It gives me hope that peace among countries, or even across the dinner table, is possible.
Imagine what would happen if you consciously shifted your perspective to let in alternate viewpoints about work, relationships, food, politics—really anything. Rather than prejudging or limiting your inputs, imagine spending a day or a week or a lifetime looking at things from a completely different point of view from your own. If you feel resistance, that’s okay, just try it out for a few minutes to see what it feels like.
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Here are some tips to help you shift your perspective and broaden your horizons—geographic and otherwise.
- Have an open and honest conversation with someone whose views are fundamentally different from your own. Many of us shy away from discussing thorny issues like politics right when we need those conversations more than ever. But if that’s too dicey for you (and, believe me, I understand), try talking about sports, hobbies or careers. You might discover ideas that you’ve never even considered.
- Shake up your routine. Take a new route to work, try a new cuisine, volunteer for a cause, or just change the wallpaper on your computer desktop. Anything new can give your brain a wake-up call as potent as a shot of caffeine.
- Turn off the negativity. Establish a no complaint zone at work or home and see how people adjust to it. Stay away from the news or Instagram for a day or two. You might find new ideas popping up unprompted or wells of optimism that you’d forgotten existed.
- Trust that tomorrow may actually be better than today. Sometimes when we face a challenging time, we convince ourselves that life will always be struggle or that we’ll always be the ones playing catch-up. It’s just not true. Look for the lesson in the hardship, even if it’s a painful one, and trust that things will change. They always do.
Libby Gill is the author of Traveling Hopefully and popular keynote speaker.