Monday, July 1, 2013

On getting along and playing nicely

I'll start by saying that I don't know how to angle this post. It could be marriage advice, parenting advice or just plain, how to get along in polite society advice.
Perspective is a funny thing. You have a unique perspective that no one else can imitate exactly. Only you are you, after all. Our individual perspectives allow us to approach life in a way that someone else might never think of.
Aside: Our collective perspectives (such as parents who can share the perspective at least in general of raising children) allow us to relate in ways that someone who is not a parent cannot. Another important collective perspective could be a worldview or religion held in common among a group of people. The shared perspective of being fallen humans before a holy God allows Christians to relate to each other in ways that those in the world might not understand. Of course, in the case of Bible believing Christians, we are reminded of the existence of absolute truth. Diverse perspectives are only helpful when tempered by absolute truth. 

What about when a problem needs solved? Is it more helpful for everyone to have the same individual perspectives when solving a problem or would it be better to have several unique perspectives when approaching a problem?
My daughter got a puzzle for a birthday present and promptly requested help. I sat down with her and began organizing the pieces. "Let's pull out all the pieces with flat sides since they will go around the border. Then we can make the border and start filling in the middle after that." So it went and we completed the puzzle. Of course, being a four year old, she wanted to do it again right away. This time my husband helped her: "Okay, let's put all the pieces in groups by color. You can make the pink pile and I'll make a blue pile and we'll put the green pile here. Then we can start to match pieces together." So it went and they completed the puzzle. I thought it was so cool that she got to experience two different strategies for putting together a puzzle, back to back like that. Perhaps an early lesson in understanding that different people do the same thing in different ways and can still arrive at the same result. Problem solving from a couple of perspectives can be useful.
The next day we took a walk through some woods at a state park. When Chris or I would say "Hey, look at that giant tree! Look how tall it is!" my daughter would look straight out (following our gaze or our outstretched hand) and find the tree and follow the tree upward to see its top. My son would immediately look straight up and (I assume) start looking for the tallest tree to then find and follow downward to see its trunk. I don't know how to interpret this other than to say, when alerted to the presence of a tall tree, one person might look around at eye level to find it and another might look up to find it.

Interactions with those around you will be improved by remembering that the solution that comes naturally to you could be completely foreign to someone else. And the hare-brained solution someone you know suggests might be the completely natural solution that comes from their perspective. We all have a unique perspective to offer and as important as that can be, we also need to remind ourselves that we ALL have a unique perspective to offer and should be patient with others who might differ from us. We just might learn something! And if it turns out we have the better idea, we can just be content with that and use the learning opportunity to broaden our own perspective.

Linked up at: Raising Arrows and Raising Homemakers

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