Unboxed Life

Boldly existing outside the box through conscious living and constant learning.

A New Perspective Can Change The World

To start today’s post I wanted to share an exchange that my wife had with a friend of ours who lives in The Democratic Republic of Congo in Central Africa.

My wife: Claude how are you doing? How is everything going there?

Claude: I am ok but the war blocks everything here. People haven’t the facility to move from this place to another.

For the majority of us these types of challenges are not part of our reality, but are only represented in news stories and the passing glance at headlines as we surf by through cyberspace. We live insulated from what huge portions of the world live with each day, where actual life and death situations are part of day to day happenings. Whether we choose to acknowledge that fact or not does not change it or alter the current course of the world we live in.

Why do I bring this up you ask? I truly believe that in between the sadness and despair lies an opportunity for us not only to grow ourselves but to find even a small way to offset some of that negativity. I have heard of, and you may have too, of the idea of First World Problems. Essentially it is the fact that what we see as challenges, problems, and inconveniences do not match up with what those who exist in the third world would call problems. Most of the time this concept is the source of quasi joking quips that make light of the disparity. While this is in good fun I think the concept holds something valuable that we can extract here.

You must know as we begin this conversation that this is not meant to bring guilt or to make any of us feel bad for our situation or our behaviors. Rather, by initiating this dialogue my hope is to help further my own growth as a human being and possibly help others look at their own lives a little differently. Also, this is not to say that poverty or life and death choices don’t exist in first world countries because we all know they do. Poverty exists everywhere and people struggle even in our own neighborhoods. The value lies in us taking a general look at how our own obstacles in life exist in comparison to others on Earth and in doing so rising above said problems to do something that matters.

It is so easy for all of us to get caught up in our own lives, not able to see outside the comfy box we place around us, not challenging our own perspective for fear of facing discomfort. In this the challenges we face take on a magnitude that is proportional to our world view, or lack thereof. Essentially our problems become bigger than they are. We lose the ability to juxtapose the issues we encounter against the backdrop of the larger world. Everyone does it and overcoming it is made even more difficult because of the society we live in. We are not encouraged to reach out of our closed circle to see what lies just on the other side. Comfort, complacency, and coddling persist while the rest of the world continues to spiral downward.

This does not mean that the things we face in the first world are not challenges or are easy to overcome. This is more a matter of perspective and keeping that in mind as we run our external stimuli through our mental filters. Is what you are struggling with as big as it feels, or can you more easily overcome it by seeing it for what it really is? For lack of a less cheesy cliché, don’t sweat the small stuff.

So what is the benefit to us for adopting this point of view? Living Unboxed is so much about seeing the larger world and living our own lives with that perception. By realizing the relative magnitude of once formidable obstacles we decrease their impact on our lives thus freeing us up to concentrate on more important and positive pursuits. We are able to redistribute the energy we might have used fretting about a small challenge into something that matters, like our own unique legacy. In this way our focus is sharpened and our resolve is strengthened to do something that matters with the short life we are blessed to have.

Even more powerful and transformational than all that is the amplified appreciation we can find for our own blessings. Each day I get to wake up and put my mind to whatever I choose without the immanent threat of death or danger. I am able to think about things like legacy work, service, new experiences, and Unboxed Living because I don’t have to worry about where my next meal will come from or if my children are safe and healthy. Having been blessed in this way it is my responsibility to channel that energy into doing what I can to make sure everyone in the world has that chance to choose: true empowerment.

Let us not look upon our own unique situation with guilt or shame, but with eyes that are opened further to the larger world. Let us place our challenges in their proper place in relation to how the world lives and functions, and in doing so free ourselves from their confines. I implore you to not let your own first world problems drown out the noise you can make in the world. You are given one life to live and one existence by which to be measured. What will you do with that gift? Will you keep perspective, keep expanding your mind, and do something great? Or will you fall victim to the pitfalls of the miniscule problems we turn into insurmountable walls? I have a lot of work to do in this area but am ready to attack it with renewed vigor; I hope you do the same.

First world problems photo: here

Sunglasses photo: taken by S Lunetta, all rights reserved

Hat photo and hug photo: all rights reserved Tanner Colton


7 comments on “A New Perspective Can Change The World

  1. Jennifer Stuart
    July 25, 2012

    This is really great. I try to remember the big world when I get mad a things like my laptop going slow or my internet cutting out. What helps me is to think of the fact that (as depressing as it may seem) I am going to die someday, and I am also going to face much bigger heartbreaks than my computer going slowly. And, at those times, I would gladly take the computer going slow over the alternative. So, in my brain, during moments of very first-world-based frustration, I just try to remember that my own suffering is going to increase dramatically and really, it would do me well to see this moment in the context of that and just breathe with gratitude and try to share that with others.

    • Tanner Colton
      July 25, 2012

      That is exactly the idea! It is all about finding a new perspective and using it to strengthen ourselves for an extraordinary life. You are right on Jennifer! Thanks for the comment and I appreciate so much your engagement with my work, it means a lot. Take care.

  2. kolena
    July 25, 2012

    I love this post what a great reminder that we can either get upset or channel that energy for a greater good. I know that I still struggle with not allowing small things to get to me from time to time still. I have learned from traveling and seeing poverty that there is so much more to life then material things or what we think is a problem. Try to be more self-aware and aware of what is going on around me at home and around the world. I hope that I can live a life were I remember this and my actions and attitude show that.

    • Tanner Colton
      July 25, 2012

      Thank you for your insights and your openness in sharing your thoughts. I think we all struggle with this idea and being able to have honest discussion about it is more valuable than keeping it hidden. There are things we can do, like you said, to help ourselves with this. I like that you brought up travel, that is a powerful tool and one I love to use as well. Thanks again for the thoughts and for following along.

  3. Angel B
    July 26, 2012

    Excellent post Tanner! Like a subtle smack in the face that I definitely needed to read. Thanks for writing from a very honest and positive place. You have great insight and perspective.

    • Tanner Colton
      July 26, 2012

      Thanks AngelB. It is always tough for me to find that place between interesting and useful writing and ranting or judging. Whenever I write I always am coming from a place of self-improvement first where most of what I am saying is directed at myself. I feel like if I am honest and open about my own shortcomings and my need for growth that I might be able to help others in their journey as well. Thanks for the words and your support, take care.

  4. Pingback: Oh Bother!: What Winnie The Pooh Can Teach Us About Listening… And Learning Too « Unboxed Life

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