One of the things I think you need to do on occasion is get somewhere that allows you to look far away. We live so much of our lives up close that a change in visual perspective can be really good for your brain and your outlook.
I live in Phoenix, and while it is not anywhere close to places like NYC, it can still feel claustrophobic at times. I am not downtown surrounded by large buildings, but I do still find myself not looking very far away for periods of time. Like, days on end. It makes me feel surrounded, closed in, and myopic. I am surprised that it is necessary to remind myself to look at the horizon on occasion, but it is a trend I have noticed. We all spend way too much time gazing at the tiny screens of our phones, many of us sit for hours on end staring a computer all day as well. I personally feel like this lends itself to that same feeling of being confined to a degree. One of the best things about going on a hike or just a drive somewhere out of the city is to expand my view of the world. The world is a big place, and it is easy to forget that sometimes.
A shift in perspective is beneficial in many aspects. Seeing things in a different light allows insight that may be missed otherwise. Sometimes I find myself stuck on an idea or project that I just can’t seem to come up with an answer for. If I can find a little time to change my perspective, I will typically have an answer soon after. For example, there are a couple of mountains nearby that are easy(ish) hikes to do in about an hour or two. When I can slip away and go for a hike, my brain will have time to quiet, and the subconscious mind can take over and problem solve. Being constantly bombarded by stimulus from our phones and computers, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle and feel overwhelmed. You can’t help but get swallowed up in the deluge of information you are inundated with twenty four-seven. Getting outside and in nature often is a great remedy for this self-induced ailment. Lifting your nose off of your phone and gazing into the distance is very therapeutic.
If you are in a cycle of problems and issues plaguing your life, try to change your perspective a little. You don’t need to go to space and look back at the Earth to radically change your perspective on things, as the picture for this blog post indicates. Someone else has had similar struggles to yours, and lots more have or had things way worse than you do. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that you are the only one to ever face what you are going through. Change your perspective and give yourself a break. This, too, shall pass.
If going for a hike doesn’t do it for you, go volunteer for a day at a soup kitchen. That will shift your perspective for sure, and give you a better perspective of just how lucky you are. That should also provide the slap-in-the-face reminder of just how easy your life really is. It is so easy to take for granted all the good things in your life, like no worries about food and shelter, your iPhone, your car that gets you from point A to point B in a timely fashion and without concern, etc. It is easy to be on cruise control, and not be grateful for these everyday luxuries that we all take for granted.
If you are looking for a different twist on this same idea, you may want to pick up a book on Stoicism and read it. Stoic philosophy is a great remedy for the modern day angst of everything I describes above. It was common practice for Stoic practitioners to live on the street a couple of days a month, just for practice. If what you fear most is being homeless, than there is no better remedy than to experience that and see that it is not the end of the world. When you face head on the thing(s) that concern you the most, you will slowly begin to lose the underlying anxiety and worries you have about things. In today’s modern world we don;t have half of the concerns that those who came before us did, and yet we persevere over things that shouldn’t even be on the radar. How many likes did you last post get? My friend got a brand new car, how can I be seen in my old junker? I can’t get off work to go to Coachella, my kid has a birthday party coming up, how and I going to outdo all the other parties we’ve been to? None of this shit matters, unless you give these things space for rent in your head.
In effort to stay as grounded as I possibly can, I do my best to catch myself falling into these mental traps as early in the process as possible. I am not immune, and it takes work to stay ahead of the thoughts in my mind all the time. I schedule time in nature as often as possible, as this brings me back to equilibrium faster than anything else I know. I turn my phone off for a day or even a whole weekend, and just enjoy the silence and the world outside an arm’s reach. The concern I have for the future generations is that they did not have my perspective and experiences growing up without technology as my best friend. I have seen both sides of the coin, and therefore I can tell more easily when things get unbalanced. When you only have lived your life when technology as integrated as it currently is, it would be very difficult to see things any other way. I highly encourage you to experiment with a technology diet on a regular basis, and getting back to nature in some way at regular intervals. It will do your heart and mind a lot of good, trust me.
I wish you luck in breaking free of the Matrix.