One of the things I’ve consistently observed in great people is their lofty take on life. They aren’t petty, not even a little bit. They do not have a narrow perception of the world. They don’t live in a vacuum of their own circumstances. Great people are able to see past their immediate circumstances and perceive something vastly more important. And by great, I don’t mean only presidents and saints, I also mean everyday people.
Having a diminished view of the world is perhaps one of the greatest factors limiting meaning. Many tend to view the cosmos through the small lens of their own circumstances. They sometimes have a narrow perception of reality and the world in which God has placed them.
Many tend to live out their lives through the lens of their unnecessarily narrow scope of life. Now, I am by no means diminishing the importance of anyone’s life, notable or otherwise. Every single person has a depth of value seldom recognized. I’m noting that we, collectively, have a tendency to view our immediate circumstances as transcendently important.
We are living out our lives in miniature, a microcosm, unnecessarily.
I am not simply distinguishing between those who accomplish a great deal and those with less notable accomplishments. For example, my grandmother didn’t accomplish a great deal that will be recalled by the masses. However, to me, she was everything. In my life, she accomplished something extraordinary. She was giving, caring and lovely. Her value was not diminished by the fact that her accomplishments weren’t on a grand scale.
With that in mind, many do tend to limit themselves by living in a microcosm. What I mean by this is simply that many allow their mentality to be dictated by their immediate circumstances. The scale doesn’t matter, it’s the mindset. It’s small thinking; pettiness. Many live in a miniature version of what’s actually occurring where only the items immediately present dictate reality. This type of mentality limits or prohibits entirely the kind of life Jesus encouraged, a life replete with humility and love.
Don’t get me wrong, personal issues are important. However, we run aground when personal worth and value are reduced to match the scope of those personal issues, and those issues subsequently detract from a meaningful life. After all, we are created in the image of God, and that means we are of great value. I think this is why Jesus said not to sweat the small stuff (Matthew 6:25), or why Paul, writing from prison, said not to be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6).
For a number of years, I have had the opportunity to manage people at a local non-profit. As wonderful as many of those people are, so often they would come to me from the vantage point of their own microcosm. So many times I wanted to say, if you could just shift your mentality, this issue would become ineffectual in your life. On many occasions, I would simply relate, “it’s not a big deal.” I guess this was my own version of encouraging them to break out of their microcosm.
You don’t have to be a grand visionary, you must simply recognize each person’s infinite worth before the creator, including your own. As Bob Goff rightly encourages, introduce a bit of whimsy into your life. In his book Love Does, Bob notes how very few people visit Disney Land’s Tom Sawyer Island. He calls it his own personal island, in fact. He relates Tom Sawyer island to our lives, poignantly reflecting, “Tom Sawyer Island is like most peoples lives, I think: they never get around to crossing over to it.”
So get out of the microcosm; break free of pettiness. Forgive often. Jesus simply advises that we strive first for his kingdom and everything else will fall in place (Matthew 6:33). Happiness doesn’t rest in a microcosm, but rather in acknowledging the creator and the vastness of his grandeur. What seemed significant becomes less so. What seemed intolerable becomes bearable, even humorous. Greatness does not rest on grand accomplishments, although it may include some of those, but rather on how we perceive and subsequently interact with the world.