Seeing Your Problems Compared to the Bigger Picture

seeing the bigger picture

It can be very difficult to maintain balance when it feels like we are under assault and our problems become the center of our focus. From this perspective our problems can seem downright overwhelming.

A narrow focus can cause us to lose sight of the bigger picture. From this exaggerated view of reality we may not be able to access the internal resources to deal with those challenges in the best possible way.

Can we shrink those problems down to size?

At such times, it can be very helpful to step back and have a look at the bigger picture. Doing so will not make our problems go away, but it will make them more manageable and help us to gain an entirely new perspective.

If we are dealing with some very serious challenges, we might need to look at the really big picture. Remember, the purpose of this is not to minimize the seriousness of your problems or their effect on your reality. All we are doing is making things feel more manageable by altering our perspective.

OK, let the shrinking process begin.

In this picture, each of us is a microscopic speck on planet Earth.

In the next picture notice Earth’s size compared to Jupiter. Jupiter has about 1300 times the volume of Earth, and aside from the sun, is larger and more massive than every other planet combined.

Now let’s compare the size of the Sun with the planets that orbit it. The sun is 1,287,000 km bigger than the Earth. In other words, you could fit over a million earths inside the Sun. Are your problems feeling smaller?

The diameter of Arcturus is 24.5 time that of our sun! It could easily contain billions of Earths.

If you thought Arcturus was big check this out. Antares is a class M supergiant star, with a diameter of approximately 700 times that of the sun; if it were placed in the center of our solar system, its outer surface would lie between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.


Now, about those problems!

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  1. Rocket Bunny June 7, 2011 Reply

    Hello Jonathan,
    I love how you have explained it so clearly.
    I have found out recently by taking a couple of days to do new things and a harder vigorous workout then usual,the problems I had to face were not so big and actually became opportunities.
    Fantastic article!

    • Jonathan June 8, 2011 Reply

      Hi Bunny, sometimes just shifting our focus away from our problems causes them to shrink all by themselves. When that happens it often exposes the opportunity that was hidden by a bloated problem that was blocking our view.

  2. Stephen June 7, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jonathan, I think perspective is a great way to deal with problems. It seems no matter how small they may be in the big scheme of things or relative to our problems of another time, we blow them up to be as big as can be. When I put things in perspective and am honest with myself I really don’t have anything that could properly be called a “problem”. Thanks!

    • Jonathan June 8, 2011 Reply

      Excellent attitude Stephen, focus is like an air hose that can easily over inflate even the smallest problem and blow it way out of proportion.

  3. Janet June 7, 2011 Reply

    Cool way to illustrate it with astronomy! I always remember “arc to arcturus” from my astronomy class in HS to guide you from big dipper to the big star. I never realized just how big it was though! Another way to look/deal with problems and change your perspective is to ask yourself if it will matter or still be a problem 5 years from now.

    • Jonathan June 8, 2011 Reply

      That’s a great strategy Janet and it seems to work especially well when we have a problem (or think we do) with the way someone else is acting or treating us.

  4. Debbie June 7, 2011 Reply

    Wonderful Jonathan. We do like to lose focus and make our problems bigger then they are. What I like to do is have my problem box. When I have a problem I write it down and place it in the box. At the end of the week I read my problems and see which ones are really a problem. many of them take care of themselves, others I really can’t control and the ones left I look for a solution too.

    As Rocket Bunny says, most of them are opportunities. We just have to look at the positive side of them.

    Thank you for the wonderful explantion.

    • Jonathan June 8, 2011 Reply

      Hi Debbie, what a great way to deal with problems. Thanks for sharing your technique.

  5. David Stevens June 7, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,
    Reframing your ‘situations’ & amp; asking ‘what does this mean?’ certainly places things in a different perspective. As previous commenters noted, opportunities can arise from problems & amp; also some/many are outside of your control anyway. Yes, you need to step aside from the ‘problem’ and assess it’s true size. Easier said than done?….Yes, often, however if we don’t do this, the problems grow in size & amp; we seize up with ‘overwhelm’. I enjoyed your Universe analogy. Keep up the good work.
    be good to yourself

    • Jonathan June 8, 2011 Reply

      Hi David, so right, asking the right questions can pull the legs out from under a problem very quickly. In addition to “what does this mean? ” I also like to ask “what else could this mean?” When we tell our mind to look for another meaning it will go right out and find all kinds of new possibilities.

  6. Riley June 7, 2011 Reply

    Hello Jonathan,
    Good lesson in perspective and astronomy. Very enjoyable. Great pictures

    • Jonathan June 8, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Riley, looking up at the vastness of the night sky has always given me a more balanced perspective of my little world.

  7. Barry June 7, 2011 Reply

    Very interesting comparison, Jonathan!

    Big or small, though, our own life is always very important to us. The other commenters offer some great strategies for putting problems in perspective – another is to consider the problem against other, human-size issues. Billions of people live on less than $1 a day. Many live in hunger day in and day out. War and other instability is real for millions of people.

    We often don’t take the time to truly count our blessings and consider what is truly important. As much as life can be difficult, it often pales in perspective to how life could be – “There, but for the grace of God, go I!”


    • Jonathan June 8, 2011 Reply

      Excellent advice Barry, gratitude is one of the greatest balancing tools available. When we focus on our blessings it creates an appreciative heart and adds a strong sense of balance to our lives.

  8. Sandra June 7, 2011 Reply

    This made me smile! Which starts that perspective process rolling already. Thanks.

    • Jonathan June 8, 2011 Reply

      Hi Sandra, your comment made me smile! Thanks for that.

  9. Daniel June 7, 2011 Reply

    Jonathan —

    I caught a Facebook comment about this post, noting that if our problem is that if we feel small and insignificant, this might not do the trick …!

    I can relate. I remember as a young teen when I began to think of my little life and what I wanted to accomplish in the face of All That, all those (forgive me, Dr, Sagan) billions and billions of stars … I really did feel like nothing.

    My answer to that came much later, when I began to realize that our spiritual aspect, and things like Truth and Love, are grounded in the Here and Now, which, I believe, encompasses All That with infinite room to spare.

    The Buckaroo Banzai cliche, “No matter where you go, there you are,” is true, no matter how silly it sounds.

    – Daniel

    • Jonathan June 8, 2011 Reply

      Hi Daniel, that facebook comment really got me thinking also. Oddly, I found myself thinking What’s wrong with small and insignificant? Think about the fact that our SUN is a relatively small star compared to the red giants, and in the vast universe it is pretty insignificant. But its influence on us and all life on earth is huge. We may be small and insignificant, but that doesn’t mean that we are not valuable. I’m am OK with being a tiny part of the big picture because that’s how big pictures are made, lots of tiny pixels.

  10. Sue June 9, 2011 Reply

    I just love the visual aids, and what a great way to remember the bigger picture. Thank you for the smile and inspiration :~)

    • Jonathan June 11, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Sue, a picture really is worth a thousand words and can make the point so much easier.

  11. Galen Pearl June 9, 2011 Reply

    Wow, what a wonderful visual perspective. I love this! This will be helpful to so many people! It reminds me of the Horton Hears a Who story. We are little Whos in the universe. Thank you!

    • Jonathan June 11, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Galen, I just love the way a few pictures can adjust our perception. The mind works in pictures, not words. So, using pictures is like speaking the minds language.

  12. marc June 10, 2011 Reply

    Nice way of expressing the problem shrinking process!

    So if men are from Mars and women from Venus, than it also give a practical insight that problems on Mars are smaller than the problems on Venus in most cases :-)

    And if you put Mars-Venus problems in perspective of the universe, they shrink completely ….


    • Jonathan June 11, 2011 Reply

      Hi Marc, your Mars – Venus references made me smile. Great book!

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