Imagine that you own a beautiful piece of property on top of a hill and you are going to build your dream house there. As you stand on your hilltop and look around, you realize that you have two completely different views to choose from and they are both spectacular.
To the east your view includes a panorama of beautiful meadows framed by forest with the perfect little year-round creek winding through the middle. Can you picture that in your mind’s eye? How does the prospect of having that as your view make you feel?
To the west the view is completely different
Looking to the west, you see a small community in the valley below with a magnificent mountain in the background. As you look closer you begin to notice details that you hadn’t noticed until now. You suddenly realize that this community is filled with very poor people all crowded together in what looks like a third world shanty town.
Judging from what you see, you can only conclude that the people in this little community are barely able to scratch out an existence. Can you visualize this situation? How does the prospect of having that as your view make you feel?
Choosing your orientation
Since your house is still in the planning stage, you can pick whatever view you want. If you orient everything toward the east, the beauty of nature will fill your senses every time you look out the windows or go out on the deck. You will also be able to watch the sunrise every morning.
On the other hand, if you orient your house to the west you’ll be able to watch the sunset behind that magnificent mountain every evening. Of course, you will also be able to see that struggling community in the valley below. Does that feel like a drawback?
What we gain from both views
There is a feeling of peace and connectedness that comes from filling our senses with the sights and sounds of the natural world. It is an experience that adds balance and appreciation to our lives in a way that nothing else can. So what could we possibly gain by including that little struggling community in our view?
Two of the most desirable qualities we can cultivate are empathy and compassion. Empathy has been defined as your pain in my heart. Compassion is a deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with a desire to relieve it. Both of these beautiful qualities are a sympathetic response to the struggles and hardships of other people.
An exceptional life is a balanced life
One of the greatest challenges in life is staying balanced and grounded. No matter what area of life we are talking about, there is a natural human tendency to become so focused on the details right in front of us that we forget to look at the big picture. We need both.
The more we grow as a person the greater our capacity to make a meaningful contribution to the world around us. Cultivating the qualities of empathy and compassion will influence how we choose to express our personal contribution because it will influence who we are as a person. Being balanced and grounded while making a meaningful contribution means learning to do right by ourselves without becoming self-centered or insensitive to the plight of those who are less fortunate.
Seeing your place in the big picture
While your own little personal sphere of interaction probably keeps you plenty busy, it would be shortsighted to think that your life doesn’t have an impact on the bigger picture. We all make some kind of contribution to the world wide community. We might reason that our influence is insignificant, but is that really the case?
What if your example inspires three other people to make positive changes in their life? And what if each of them inspires three of their friends in the same way? After a decade, how many lives could be touched in a positive way because of your example? The possibilities are mind boggling and this is a very conservative scenario. Your place in the big picture and your influence on others could easily be far greater.
I live in a very rural area, and yet, technology has allowed me to touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. It’s a privilege and responsibility that I take very seriously. It is very likely that you place in the big picture and your sphere of influence is way more far-reaching than you realize. Are you using your influence to make a positive contribution?
What about the view from your new hilltop home?
We all have gifts we can share with the world, but sharing means caring. What if your new home took advantage of both views? Then you could enjoy the sunrises and the sunsets, and while you are at it you could use the view of that struggling little community to help you stay balanced and grounded.
So, what’s the life lesson in all this? Life is not just east or west, and your place in life is not just the little picture or the big picture people. Both are important for a balanced viewpoint. Desirable qualities like empathy and compassion make us better people on every level. They also improve the value of our lives and the quality of our contribution. That’s why we all benefit from seeing our place in the big picture.
How do you see your place in the big picture?
Are empathy and compassion important qualities?
The lines are open!