I ran a race recently and experienced something that I think is common to many runners. It is so encouraging to have people along the route cheering for runners and their enthusiasm provides a boost. Usually there is someone cheering along the route that says “Just 3 more miles to go!”. My initial response is “Ugh, I still have to do 3 more miles!”. The difference between “just” and “ugh” is perspective.
I think this is true of so many situations. When you are going through something that is physically, mentally, or emotionally taxing, the journey is exhausting. Knowing that you still have a literal or figurative distance still to cover can be discouraging. The outsider may not see that distance as a challenge but rather that you are in this final phase and it will be over soon.
This is something that is important for me to keep in mind, whether I am the runner or the cheer-er. If I am in the middle of that challenge and someone is encouraging me, I should accept their encouragement instead of arguing it. How much more difficult would this be if I were all alone and it seemed like there was no support at all? I may be looking down at my feet when I should be looking towards the finish line.
If I am watching from the sideline as someone else is going through a challenge, I shouldn’t downplay how exhausting it feels to know it’s not over. Rarely is it the case that the person in that situation doesn’t think it will end. It is just that they are focusing on the physical or emotional toll that is required to get to the finish line. I can acknowledge where they are instead of how far they have still to go.
Perspective is what determines whether what is around me is good. I can approach from a glass-half-empty standpoint that I still have all these miles to go, or a glass-half-full standpoint to see how far I’ve come and the blessings that I can even run the race.