This entire year we have focused on various aspects of mindset and the essential need to have our minds set on the traits, characteristics and purposes that will lead us to a life of success and significance. Today I want to continue this theme and talk about our view of the world around us.

When I was growing up, we had a subscription to a magazine called National Geographic World which was the kid’s version of National Geographic. Each month, the back cover had a feature called “What in the World?” It was a series of nine pictures that were zoomed in and magnified many times over. From this tiny clue, you were supposed to figure out what the full picture would be…was it the eye of a fly, a bit of rabbit fur, a porcupine quill? It was fascinating - the super magnified details were things you would not immediately recognize in life because they were so minute. It was usually very difficult to tell what the whole picture was because you were looking at such a very small piece of it. If you had the ability to zoom out, you would have  been able to see that the beautiful crystal shape was actually a grain of sand, part of a sandcastle on a beach, the beach of an island, off the coast of Florida, in North America…part of the earth. What is thought-provoking, is that we can get so fascinated by and focused on the minute details, that we miss the full impact of the picture.

I think life is like that. Sometimes we get so caught up in the tiniest little details of each day that we miss out on the larger picture. We miss out on life. So today, I want us to think about zooming out. ZOOM OUT from what is right in front of you so you can see a much larger, wide-angle shot. This is an exercise that is not just a good idea, I believe it is essential for our mental health and balance. Listen closely and think carefully for the next few minutes as I share three advantages of ZOOMING OUT.

#1 - When we ZOOM OUT, we can see the big picture.
We can see more than just today. When we step back and look at what’s really going on in our lives, we see more than just the frustration of being stuck in traffic, or the pressure of today’s deadline, or the irritation of yet another pile of dirty dishes. I encourage you to take a couple of hours and step back from your immediate surroundings. Maybe you could sit in your reading chair on the back porch, or go to your favorite coffee shop, or just take a drive and think about where you are in life. Think about the people you have around you who support you, who love you, who stand by you. Think about the work you do, and how it impacts people. Think about the work you do outside of your job, and how you are able to give back. Think of your family, think of your friends, think of what you are doing that will be your legacy. When you can see the big picture of your life, it makes those daily details either more important because it builds toward the big picture, or less important and you will be able to move past the distractions and remain focused on your big picture.

#2. When you ZOOM OUT you see the masterpiece.
When you see the big picture you start to see that there are bright spots and there are dark spots in your life landscape. No one has a constant landscape of highlights. We all have trials and trouble. But just like the most famous and beloved artists have pictures with a lot of shadows, so the lives of people have shadows which makes the highlights that much more impressive. Leonardo da Vinci is known for his use of shadows which give the vivid three- dimensional quality to his paintings. The shadows are essential for the art. Billy Graham once said, “All the masterpieces contain both light and shadow. A happy life is not one filled with only sunshine, but one which uses both light and shadow to produce beauty.” When you ZOOM OUT, you see that the dark times make the bright times that much more visible. You’ve heard the quote, “Without the darkness, you would never appreciate the stars.” The same is true of your life landscape, and when you think the darkness is overwhelming, remember this: Heroes and leaders rise during the dark times.

#3 When you ZOOM OUT, you refocus.
When you zoom out, you are able to see things that you were unable to see when you are focused on the details of every day. Sometimes we get so focused on what is right in front of us that we miss the rest of the picture. We miss the people around us that need help. We miss the people who are hurting. We miss the opportunity to celebrate. We miss the chance to appreciate. When our focus is so small, we miss a lot. Life is not just about you, and life is not just about what happens in the space around you. Life is much bigger, and life is meant to be lived with other people in a big picture world.

So step back, ZOOM OUT, look around you, get the big picture, appreciate the shadows, and see things that you might be missing.

Live large!

And make the rest of your life the best of your life.

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