Keeping a Sense of Perspective

Joel - Centennial, Colorado
Entered on April 26, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I’d like to think I have an intuitive sense about what “feels” right or wrong, but since I am not a particularly religious or philosophical person, putting that “sense” to words is not an easy task. I believe it is important to keep a sense of perspective at all times– remembering that the present moment is only a tiny sliver of life and that there are are those who are less fortunate.

Sometimes I can get caught up in a particular situation– networking and applying for jobs, keeping up with homework, tests, papers, and group projects, dealing with inconsiderate neighbors– and fall into the trap of thinking that I have a full plate of worries and stresses. Earlier today I saw the movie “The Soloist,” based on a true story about a schizophrenic homeless man on skid row who is gifted with musical ability but simultaneously is shortchanged of his potential by mental illness. What really drove the movie home is that skid row, the real skid row, not a film set in a movie, is only about three miles away from where I currently live. When I keep everything in perspective, I realize that the problems I think I have only are trivial and mundane; I don’t have any real problems. I have been gifted with a loving and caring family, good health, good education, and despite the current economy, abundant opportunities to succeed in my career. It may sound cliché, but the old saying is absolutely true– it is important to be grateful for what I have.

I believe that by keeping a sense of perspective– about my life, about history, about my place in the world– I have a tool to make good decisions. After having spent my entire life in school continuously for the last eighteen years, I am now ready to transition into the full time working world. I know there will be many challenges, pressures, and temptations. It takes a lifetime to build up a career and only a moment to destroy it. The last decade alone has been riddled with numerous corporate scandals. When I hear names such as “WorldCom,” “Enron,” and “Fannie Mae” and “Freddie Mac,” the first thing I think of is fraud and deceit. From studying these cases, I believe the root issue is that the accountants, executives, board members, and investment bankers involved lost perspective. They focused on short term profitability and investment bubbles to the detriment of the long term financial health of their stakeholders. The individuals perpetrating these disasters did not take the time to step back and think about the impact they would have on others.

There are many times when I am extremely busy. But no matter how much there is to do, there is always time to think about how my present actions will impact my own future and the future of others: having a sense of perspective.