Life is a ________________The way we chose to look at our lives impacts the way we live them. The way we perceive the world and out place in it influences the way we respond to challenges in our lives, what motivates us to treat others kindly or ignore them completely, and it outlines the context of how we write our own stories. We each have our own overarching metaphors for the events that happen in our lives. These metaphors explain what we are pursuing, and how, and why.
Below are four perspectives that one could use when looking at the world. I’ve seen life as each of these things at different points, and continue to bounce between them, depending on what is happening around me. I think the last one is my favorite. How about you? Do any of these match the way you view the world?
1. Life is an obstacle course– Looking at life as an obstacle course or series of challenges to overcome sets up the framework for a story where I am at odds with the world around me. There’s a set path that I must follow, and along the way I will encounter trials that I must work through before I can continue on to the finish line. Some trials will be easier than others, some will slow me down considerably, and all of them will both wear me out and make me stronger. Life is meant to be exhausting, and at the end of it, I just want to finish strong.
2. Life is an adventure – There are hidden treasures waiting to be discovered, allies to make, lessons to learn, and journeys to make. A map may have been provided to find my way to a secret destination, but I must be able to read the map and avoid dangers that lurk around corners as I try to find my way along. I may have a group of fellow treasure seekers along to share the experiences, the highs and the lows, or I may find the need to face sirens and test my resolve. I know that I will find something good at the end, and that along the way, I’ll never find a reason to be bored.
3. Life is a mystery – I will never understand quite what this life is supposed to be, but I will spend my time searching for clues that will help me understand what it is all about. I’m always looking for details that someone else has overlooked and asking questions, trying to find answers in small ways that will eventually lead me to understanding the bigger picture. I will have companions who work along side me and adversaries who work against me, and before I reach the end, I will hopefully have found enough clues to put all the pieces together. Aside from my trusty sidekick, I never know who I can trust to guide me through the mystery.
4. Life is a journey – I start at one place and through an infinite series of choices, I find myself in one place, then another, then another. I have an end goal in mind, and I know that it’s going to be a while before I make it to that goal. My journey may be taken alone or with companions, but in the end, it is my journey to take. There may be signs, guidebooks, and even a leader who has designated the path I am to take, and I must keep my eyes open to make sure that I stay along the path set before me. Diverging roads will cross my path and I must decide where I want my next step to be. At the end, I want to see a sign that says “you’ve arrived.”
What perspective do you find guides your life most often? How does this perspective influence your actions, your goals, and your relationships?