How to Broaden Your Perspective

Learning more about the world and about each other is a noble cause. Here are some suggestions to get started on broadening your perspective.

By Richard Williams ~

How to broaden your perspective

First, we want to commend you. If you are reading this article, you are doing something we wish many people would do. Broadening our perspective and taking the time to build a muscle that makes us empathetic. It cultivates a deeper understanding of each other, our histories and helps us come together as a society.

Before you start on this journey, having a reason will help you navigate your way through the different options provided. For instance, knowing that you want to broaden your perspective so you can be more empathetic or understand what brings different cultures together can help select the best course of action. All the suggestions below will take time to develop. And you want to take the time and ensure that you are going in the right direction. Even if you can just adopt one or two of the items listed below, it will go a long way in broadening your perspective.

Here are a few ideas to get you started on your journey:

Be curious.

The first step towards broadening your perspective is cultivating curiosity. Being curious about the world around you and wanting to understand how it works is an important step to broadening your perspective. Take simple steps like looking up a word you don’t understand or searching for an idea or concept that you don’t know on Google. If you don’t understand something, look it up. Don’t take things for granted, or assume you know what it means. Take the time to look up things and don’t take anything you hear or read at face value.

Read books.

One of the best ways to expand your thinking is to read more books. If you are not into reading right now, this may be the most important habit you could develop. If you are not a reader, then just doing this one thing will change your life.

If you are already a reader, then the idea is to read books you would not typically pick up. While reading biographies and autobiographies will literally broaden your outlook immediately, if you read these regularly, you need to change the genre. Read fiction, sci-fi, business books, poems. Read something you won't typically read.

Additionally, reading books on important topics of history like the World Wars, history of your country, psychology, economics, etc. are a good starting point.

Read op-ed columns.

While reading the news and being in the know is important, it can get negative and repetitive. Developing a new perspective is not just about reading facts, it's more about interpreting the facts and being able to look at them from various viewpoints. Reading the op-ed column of popular newspapers can go a long way in broadening your understanding of various topics. Every good newspaper also has online archives you can use to read the op-ed columns from the past. Start there. Read some past columns to get the feel of the writing and opinions. Set a reminder to read them on a weekly basis so you don't miss them in the future.

Talk to people.

This one sounds silly, but hear us out. How many times do we talk to people? Even our family members? Talk to people and try to understand their motivations and histories. Observe people when you are with them, don’t just listen to what is said but also to what remains unsaid. Look at their body language and take in the whole picture. Talk to people of all ages and all walks of life to learn something new about them. Chat with the checkout clerk at the grocery aisle. Strick a conversation with someone on the elevator or a parent in your child's daycare. We are so often engrossed in our thoughts that we miss opportunities to connect with others.

Travel.

As the world opens after the pandemic, really take the time to travel. And not to those countries where English is the first language. Go to a country you don’t know anything about. Read up on it and ask a friend or a local to guide you through a real cultural experience of the country. Make an effort to meet new people in the country. Visit historic landmarks and read up on them. There is no better way to broaden your perspective than traveling and experiencing other cultures firsthand. Traveling to new places changes our perspective about people and the world we live in.

Listen to music.

Listen to music not just in your native language but in other languages as well. Find popular songs in different languages. Read the lyrics and use Google Translate to understand the meaning of the lyrics. Music often is the soul of a culture and listening to music from different parts of the works in different languages broadens our understanding. We hear different musical instruments that only exist in a particular culture. Listening to music has a lot to do with feeling as well. When you listen to music from different genres and cultures, you feel emotions that you may not have experienced before. Music is not just a way to broaden your mind, but also the experiences of your soul.

Learn a new language.

Each language has its own words and nuances that are closely tied to the culture it originated in. When you take the time to learn a new language, it opens a completely different way of thinking. It broadens perspective, sure, but it also opens a whole new way to experience a culture. It also opens the opportunity to talk to more people in their language. You likely would never be able to talk to them if you’d not made the effort to learn the language. It brings you closer to people and helps you understand their point of view. With your new language skills, you can even read literature and books that were previously inaccessible to you.

Watch documentaries.

While watching movies and series can be informative, documentaries are a wealth of knowledge. They explain very deep and complex concepts in a simple to understand and visual format. Watching documentaries can help you discover worlds that you can't access on your own. You can learn a lot about everything from typography to oceanic spices within a few hours. Documentaries are often well researched and even opinionated. You can learn about the different perspectives of an issue without having to step away from your couch or even talking to another person.

Learn a new skill.

This is by far one of the best ways to broaden your perspective in life. Learning a new skill builds new neural pathways in your brain that help you connect different ideas and come up with creative solutions. It exposes you to something you have never done before. Be it learning something on Coursera, Skillshare, Udemy, or just on YouTube – learning a new skill can help expose you to ideas that you’ve never considered before. Even a simple course on iPad animation or the art of storytelling can broaden your vision.

Ask questions.

As you are taking steps to broaden your perspective, keep in mind that the idea is not just to expose yourself to different environments and learn that way. You can enhance your learning even further by just asking more questions as you are going through a book, traveling, or even learning a new skill or language. Asking questions will accelerate your learning and help you grow faster with a much deeper understanding of the topic.

Those are some tips to broaden your perspective. As you are going about your journey, remember why you started. As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, this is a long process. It takes time and effort to achieve what you want. Also, know that this is a noble cause, you are on the right path. Be patient and keep at it. You will be surprised at how much you can learn by following just a few things listed above.

What are your favorite ways to broaden your perspective? What has helped you the most? We will learn differently. Let us know in the comments what works for you.

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