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Putting things into perspective: meaning, examples 8 Tips

Putting things into perspective: meaning, examples 8 Tips

What is the meaning of putting things into perspective and how can you put things into perspective? Do you notice that you have some difficulty with it? Read on for the explanation and 8 tips …

The meaning of putting things into perspective: what is it?

Simply put, to put things into perspective: not to turn a mosquito into an elephant. A mosquito is a mosquito, an elephant is an elephant. This sounds easy, but it is still quite difficult in practice.

  • De Van Dale gives the following definition of putting things into perspective: pointing out the relative aspects of something.
  • In English it is said: to put things into perspective.
  • A synonym is: to see the relativity of something.

The opposite of putting things into perspective is …

  • Fundamentalist thinking.
  • More absolute.
  • Seeing things black and white.

Examples of putting things into perspective

Take the following examples:

  • “A car passed me.”
  • “I’ll be in traffic for ten minutes.”
  • “The waiter brought me the wrong dish.”
  • “My husband is looking at his Iphone.”

Then think about how extreme your reaction to these simple events can be. How do you react in perspective? By not judging and by remaining proactive.  Suspend judgment and simply become an observer. This reduces stress.

An hour sitting with a nice girl goes by like a minute, but a minute on a burning stove seems like an hour. That is relativity.
– Albert Einstein

I speak better Spanish than any Dutch person, but worse than any Spaniard.
– Johan Cruijff

He has very good technique for a bad football player. But for a good football player he has bad technique.
– Johan Cruijff

Learning to put things into perspective: the tips …

Do you have trouble putting things into perspective? Let’s get to the tips …

how can you put things into perspective

Tip 1 – A walk automatically puts you in perspective

In nature you cannot do anything but put things into perspective. The most famous example is that you look at the stars, which makes your problems pale, but a simple walk in the park also helps.

Tip 2 – Assume a different observational position

Use the three observational positions.

  1. Take the perspective of yourself. How do you see the case?
  2. Take on another person’s perspective. Maybe someone from another country.
  3. Assume the perspective of a neutral mosquito on the wall. What do you see and hear?

Tip 3 – Adopt a different time frame

Let’s take an example right away. You may feel down now and look up to your schedule or even your whole life. Okay, time to put things into perspective by taking a time jump.

Maybe you take a look at the past when you set your goals. How far have you come now compared to then? You have probably come a long way and you have already achieved a lot. You wanted the kind of life you have now, didn’t you? Then what is the problem?

You can also look into the future: what are you doing all this for? What is the greater purpose that motivates and gives you energy and adrenaline to do all of this? Straight to your goal!

And so you have put your current situation / feeling into perspective by means of the past or the future!

Tip 4 – Learn the art of how sober people put things into perspective

putting things into perspective by being sober

Who in your environment would you describe as a sober person who is very good at putting things into perspective? Down to earth people are very good at putting things into perspective. And I am lucky: in the Netherlands – where I live – we have a lot of down-to-earth people. View the characteristics of sobriety here.

Tip 5 – Also put yourself into perspective

Self-perspective is very healthy. It means you don’t take yourself that seriously. In that way, it’s kind of the opposite of narcissism. The best and most loved TV personalities and comedians master the art of self-perspective. To put yourself into perspective, do the following …

  • Address your own shortcomings, human errors or weaknesses.
  • Laugh at yourself.
  • Laugh at the joy of life.

I thought I was proposing quite a bit and was quite a big deal … until I looked at the stars.

Tip 6 – Remember the big picture: what is your mission / goal?

tips for putting things into perspective

If you have an important goal, all the obstacles you encounter along the way will pale. You will overcome them with more power if you keep your mission, aka the big picture, in mind. What’s your dream? Let that big dream be what makes you put obstacles and problems into perspective.

In a year’s time, what you are stressing about now will no longer have any value.

Ask yourself: what is really important? Once you start to value the really important things in life, such as love, few things will take you off your a propos.

The problem is never a problem. Problem is only in our head. A negative story. A victim role.

You miss an important appointment because you are in a traffic jam. Is that a big problem?
You see that you have run out of gas, while the next gas station is a 10 km walk. Is that a big deal?
You can see that your phone is empty, so you can’t let us know anymore. Is that a big deal?
You walk 10 kilometers to the pump in your high heels. Is that a big deal?
You break your ankle on the way. Is that a big deal?
You can finally call at the hospital. Your partner breaks up on the phone. Is that a big deal?
The handsome doctor says you are terminally ill. Is that a big deal?

What you worried about an hour ago … is no longer a problem.

Anyway, that handsome doctor is single. That is the bright side!

Dr. Vincent van der Burg

Tip 7 – Think about some thoughts that put things into perspective …

Thoughts in perspective can be anything. You can even philosophize deeply and fantasize about science fiction-like scenarios. Take the following perspective from Alan Watts for example:

Change the degree of zooming and you will see molecules. And in it again smaller and smaller and smaller parts that are so far apart that it is comparable to the distance between the earth and the sun. Relatively.

There may be gigantic universes in the tips of our nails, full of worlds in worlds in worlds. With vast universes full of kingdoms, with battleships, palaces and restaurants and orchestras … all at the tip of our nails. And on the other hand, we can all play ourselves in someone else’s fingernails.

– Alan Watts

Tip 8 – Is there such a thing as putting too much into perspective?

Relating too much is not healthy either. You shouldn’t run away from your emotions by continuing to put things into perspective. Sometimes something is just not nice, and you can cry about that and you can feel sad about it.

Don’t blame God for creating the tiger, but thank Him for not giving the tiger wings.
– African saying

Tip 9 – Learning to put things into perspective? Read these books

A good book about putting things into perspective is The Subtle Art Of Not Giving a F *ck. What do you think is really important in life? Then suddenly those little things no longer matter. Also read my full summary of this book here.

The above book brings us the spiritual way of putting things into perspective in a modern and humorous way. In addition, the original Taoist art of putting things into perspective is also recommended. For this you can also take a look at the well-known book ‘The writings of Liezi’.

Good luck in putting things into perspective and working towards the big picture in your life!

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!