As you are reading, you’ll notice that you are one of the main characters; after all it is Your Human Manual. Since you are just one of many people reading this, you will view it differently than everyone else who reads the same words. You have a unique perspective, a word that describes your point of view based on your experiences.
They say your experiences define who you are as a person. Your perspective is the temporary form of who you are based on what you have gone through and learned. Your perspective will always change as you learn and grow.
Due to your unique perspective, your world is also unique to you and only you. Your world describes everything that you have the ability to interact with. It can include people you meet or facts you know. It can include current events or fictional stories. The more you explore, the larger your world becomes. In short, your perspective is you and your world is everything you are aware of.
My mom used to tell me, “Perception is reality,” meaning the way you see the world is what you see to be real. The phrase would often be used to help me realize that everyone is limited and their reality was different than mine. The phrase can also be used as a means to hack into your own brain. If you can control your perception, you can control your reality.
We say “look at the bright side” when you’re feeling down. Conflicts are usually resolved from seeing the other party’s point of view. You can feel as though you are living the life of a character as you read a book or watch a show. Our perception truly is what we understand to be the reality around us, and it doesn’t even have to be your own reality! Empathy is our ability to switch our perspective to that of another person.
Using a dichotomy, we can classify perspectives into two main categories: top down and bottom up. A top down perspective is usually all-knowing and helpful for sorting out smaller matters that are part of what’s being observed. A bottom up perspective is usually limited but helpful for seeing a system from many different angles. This categorization can help to recognize which one you are using and remind you that there are always other perspectives available.
To put opposite perspectives another way, let’s look at an example. Let’s say you are in the grocery store and someone bumps their cart into yours. They bumped you because they were distracted, thinking about which type of cereal to buy. You don’t know what the other person is thinking and therefore only have the information that you were bumped without knowing why.
From a top down perspective, it was an accident where the other person should have been paying more attention. From a bottom up perspective, the other person may have hit you on purpose for some malicious reason. It could still be an accident from a bottom up perspective, but an accident is just one of the many possible scenarios in your mind.
It is difficult to merge top down and bottom up perspectives. Teachers sometimes can’t understand why their students don’t get a concept. Teachers often think of a concept in a top down way while students learning from a bottom up perspective.
We often have trouble reconciling how we see ourselves versus how other people see us. We inherently know ourselves from a bottom up perspective since we are the hero in our own story. Learning to see yourself top down is a humbling task that requires focused intention.
Knowing why something happens can give you an edge to predict whether it will happen again. Understanding the causality of something is seeing it from a top down perspective, otherwise called “science.” However, rigid labels are sometimes unable to explain something fluid or adaptable. Looking at something from a bottom up perspective allows you to see all the possibilities from the data that you have, otherwise called “creativity.” Data can be scientific or simply your life experiences as you decide your next move.
We love stories in which the characters grow by broadening their initial perspectives. It inherently releases pleasure to learn and see the world from a new angle. You have the ability to view anything from many perspectives, but it will not necessarily come easily. You must be willing to put in the effort to see your world from many different angles and “think outside the box” in order to become adept at shifting your own perspective.