Our suffering often feels like the biggest thing in our field of vision.
If we can take a moment to widen our perspective and zoom out to the stars we can see ourselves as part of a global human community. This new outlook can put our fears and worries into perspective. If we turn and look outward to the milky way and beyond, remembering that there are other galaxies, and probably other life in the universe, we can recalibrate.
The term "The Overview Effect" was coined by Frank White, the famed writer, Rhodes scholar and space advocate. He described the effect this way: "The Overview Effect is the experience of seeing the Earth from a distance, especially from orbit or the Moon, and realizing the inherent unity and oneness of everything on the planet. The Effect represents a shift in perception wherein the viewer moves from identification with parts of the Earth to identification with the whole system."
Of course our challenges are real and shouldn't be ignored, but we don't always have to feed them with 100% of our attention and worry.
Four reasons why it's worth exploring The Overview Effect:
1) Taking that broader perspective can help us hold everything more loosely and wear our challenges like a loose garment. Our fists can unclench their gripping.
2) Whatever we pay attention to will grow. And for our survival, our brain is wired to pay extra attention to fear and perceived threats. If we are only thinking of these, we will suffer and those challenges will grow from ant hills into mountains.
3) The Overview Effect inspires us to develop the skills of discernment and clarity. Through a regular practice using Rebel Human tools like the Five Dials©, we can better discern what is a factual fear and real threat. Often the things we worry about and cause most of our suffering is fictional. With practice, we can tell the difference between fictional and factual fears, freeing up mental space for growth, creativity, engagement, connection, and innovation.
4) We can broaden our perspective. Just reading the following Carl Sagan quote helps us get there:
"Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam."