January 20, 2014
John Lennon took a big-picture, long-term, positive view of life. He once said, “Time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted.” This is a 35,000-feet aerial perspective on the entirety of an event—in this case, of wasting time. No negativity here. Lennon could see, from the big picture perspective, that wasting time has its positive points, too.
Narrow-focus binoculars can’t see subjects from wide-angle points of view. This isn’t about intelligence. Even those with high IQs may not see the big picture if they get caught up in “now” details. As John Irving, author of Trying to Save Piggy Sneed, observed, “We often need to lose sight of our priorities in order to see them.”
So, it’s the beginning of a New Year, and if you’re like the many who made resolutions and already see them fading away, it’s time to look at how you really look—at how you really see. Keep in mind: “What we see depends mainly on what we look for,” a favorite quote of mine from Sir John Lubbock, author of The Pleasures of Life.
Let’s learn how to create some big-picture thinking to ensure you don’t lack full perspective or fail to prioritize. Only the fully accurate, big picture will give you the tools to properly check-in on your goals, assure that what you are doing supports your plan for the coming year for your fitness, and help you feel good about the time and energy you are expending. After all, you want to know where you are and where you are headed in the coming year when it comes to your health and wellbeing, right? Then it’s time to learn to think about, analyze and plan for your big picture.
You are a big picture thinker if:
-You rapidly identify patterns in complex situations.-You enjoy innovative thinking and doing things that are new and different.
-You bristle at busywork, routine and monotony.
-You are definitely a right-brained person, the side of the brain responsible for visual processing, big-picture, intuitive thinking and processing ideas simultaneously.
-You are a Myers-Briggs “N” intuitive type, who would rather learn by thinking a problem through than by hands-on experience. You think more about the future than the past.
You are a detailed thinker if:
-You think more about physical things in great detail and miss new possibilities.
-You are generally more concerned about the actual, present, current and real.
-You look at the bottom line, what’s pragmatic, and prefer tweaking what exists, rather than creating something new.
-You are left-brained, which is the hemisphere that promotes more analytical, step-by-step processing, uses logic and details, and emphasizes facts and concrete language such as that found in math and science.
-You are a Myers-Briggs “S” sensing type for whom experience speaks louder than words.
Regardless of your general style, if you want to make healthy things happen for yourself this coming year, you need to start by thinking positively good, big picture, thoughts.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you are sitting at a dinner. You think, “I’m stressed and am entitled to feel calm right now, so I’m going to eat that pizza.” This is short-range, narrow and erroneous thinking. A big-picture, positive and more novel belief is, “I’m entitled to achieve everything I put on my goal sheet for this month when it comes to my weight management, so I can take a walk, do some deep breathing, or call a friend to calm down instead.”
Here’s another example: “I’m sad and feeling miserable right now, which I can’t stand, so I’m going to have another piece of cake to make myself feel better now.” Again, this is short-range, narrow and inaccurate thinking. “Just because I’m sad and feeling miserable right now doesn’t mean that eating is my right. Besides, my body doesn’t care what I’m feeling and it processes calories just the same. If I eat right now, I’ll still be overweight, which is not my bigger goal for this year.”
“Yes, I know I ate awhile ago, but I’m starving right now!” compared to, “I’m having a craving right now, but that doesn’t mean I must eat right now. It’ll pass if I wait.”
Thinking about quitting your commitment to eating well and maintaining a healthy activity program today? Instead, think about the big picture and you’ll land on why you started.
“Oh it’s only one gym day I’m missing. What’s the big deal if I skip it today and just chill out here on the couch right now?” Compare that to, “If I stay home chilling on the couch, I only strengthen the habit of giving in for the future.”
“I don’t want to tolerate hunger right now.” Compare that to, “I’d rather tolerate being hungry so I can lose weight this coming week.”
“I don’t want to have to work out today when my friends are taking today off.” Compare that to, “I may not want to work out today but really, if my longer-term goal is to get back in shape, it makes sense for me to do it even if my friends get the day off.”
You get the idea. Don’t get stuck in your own magnifying glass that highlights the negative, the irrational, the inaccurate and the illogical. Take the big picture, which is filled with creative wide-angle views that are positive and accurate. You can either take the narrow, short-term view, eat what you want, avoid exercise and think negatively now, or you can take the big picture view and finish 2014 feeling healthy, fit, happy and exceptional. You just can’t do both.
Michael Mantell earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania and his M.S. at Hahnemann Medical College, here he wrote his thesis on obesity. He’s served as the Chief Psychologist of Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego and the Chief Psychologist for the San Diego Police Department. He provides breakthrough strategies to help business leaders, athletes, individuals and families create healthy, fit and happy trajectories in life. He is the Senior Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for ACE, an international behavior science fitness presenter, an Advisor to numerous companies and fitness organizations, on the Sports Medicine team of The Sporting Club of San Diego and is featured in many international media outlets. He is listed in the greatest.com 2013 “The 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness.”