Many of the top performers in the world say that when they get caught in negative thinking, they try to look at things from a different more all-encompassing perspective.
To gain this perspective they look up into the sky and think of the immenseness of the Universe.
In the scheme of things – they realize – our planet is just a small blue dot hanging in the infinite void.
When they attain this cognitive shift in awareness, their problems start to look a bit irrelevant.
I’ve tried this and it works. A similar concept has been referred to as the “Overview Effect” and first reported by some astronauts when viewing the Earth from space.
This is a mental exercise that anyone can try but may not always help resolve your problems, specially the imminent ones, like if you are about to get punched by a 250 pound meathead for staring at his girlfriend.
Just before the man-gorilla’s fist is about to impact your face you could think of the moon, the stars, Adromeda and the black-hole in the middle of our galaxy.
Lo and behold, as the fist finishes transferring its momentum into your skull and rattling your brains, you will see stars, albeit not of the helium producing type.
Or maybe, you could appeal to the immensity of the Universe in a desperate attempt to avoid the incoming punch and say: “Hey, don’t you realize that you, your fist, me, your girlfriend, and everyone in the world aren’t but a tiny speck in the Universe? We mean nothing in comparison. Why waste your energy on unnecessary violence when you can channel it on admiring the incredible wonders of the cosmos?”
Would that conflict defusing tactic work?
Probably not. We are so caught up in our infinitesimal sliver of perceived reality that no grand Overview Effect can rescue us from our ever-present animal instincts.
And that makes tons of sense. After all, self-transcendence is the least pressing need in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.
Our senses are incapable of processing most of the available reality probably because there has never been any evolutionary advantage from doing so.
However, as humans, we seem to be the only species able to explore way beyond our sensory limitations thanks to a marvelous cognitive instrument called… imagination.
Could your fluffy dog be trained to look up into the starry night sky and conceptualize the immenseness of the Universe?
Maybe if the stars were made of cookies…
But you can, so use it, use your imagination.
P.S: This post has been in part inspired by reading “The Cosmic Code” a great introductory book to quantum physics by Heinz R. Pagels.
P.2: Don’t worry if your imagination can’t travel through space. Luckily, there is an app for everything.
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