The Art of Perspective



Overwhelming stress is something natural a great portion of the population struggles with. Finding a foothold mentally in where we are and where we’re going can quell this.

As a student, it’s terribly difficult not to get caught up in a slew of exams and tests, new or fading relationships and the ever present stressful transition from teenager to young adult. That’s where the art of cognitive perspective comes in handy, when those stresses feel like they’re on the verge of taking over.

According to Simple Psychology, the art of cognitive perspective is adapting our minds to think in an input-output system (i.e if I do this, this will happen and vice versa). This manner of thought allows us to temper the storm by putting the answers right in front of us into the forethought of our mind. Here’s an example: You have a really big test coming up; you’re stressed for the test and you know if you do bad you’ll feel worse. This is the input. So for the output, think to yourself; how can I make it so I don’t feel bad about this test? Well, study and make yourself feel confident in the subject to avoid the ever present dread of the alternative.

Don’t be scared on your own road. A lot of people need to figure out their own path for themselves before you can merge into others lives. (Unsplash)

I suppose you could also call this topic “avoiding procrastination.” But, as simple as it sounds, conditioning your mind to think in this manner can help. Personally, I remember a teacher who once told me and a classroom full of stressed out high schoolers preparing for a test; “Don’t let it affect you to the point where you wear yourself out, this test won’t be something you think about in two years.” Little did he know how much those words would cling to me.

His simple saying became something I applied to almost any situation in my life. If it doesn’t affect me in two years then it doesn’t deserve my stress. And if it does affect me in two years? Well, that’s when we use the input-output system and figure out what output will help you in this moment.

Everett Community College philosophy instructor Mike VanQuickenborne adds, “Having a perspective and your own fundamental set of values and beliefs can play a transformative role in giving one a sense of inner peace and fortitude, so to that extent it definitely would have mental health benefits which would certainly carry over into having an impact on academic performance.”

Look where you stand right now, do you see a horizon, every stretching out in front of you? The curvature of the earth is one perspective we can respect with our sense of sight. Other perspectives aren’t so easy to experience. (Unsplash)

Also a long time advisor here at the college, VanQuickenborne knows the trials college students go through and reinforces that gaining mindfulness and perspective can increase academic performance.

Now the question arises: how do we even start going about this? I mean, it is a rather ambiguous mental task to overcome.

Diana Raab Ph.D. offers five simple ways to get yourself started: take control of your mind, foster kindness, regard all experiences as mere experiences, be creative, and, most simply, laugh. Mastering these skills will lead to a positive college experience.

However, some may find this tiresome and pointless. After all, how powerfully can this truly impact your life Immensely. Harvard Health states that when stress management techniques are employed they “may reduce health problems linked to stress, which include cognitive problems and a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”

Perspective is an abundantly strong trait that once applied could have long lasting effects on our physical and mental wellness. I implore you to stay away from negativity; keep it out of your mind. Instead, look to the future and let that guide your present.