By Jack Steward

I believe that having a positive attitude is one of the greatest tools for living an enjoyable and productive life. This attitude will guide your decisions, relationships and how you see the world. Having a positive attitude is great, but it is highly dependent on your perspective. What is important to you? Who do you want to be? These are the questions that shape your perspective and in turn your attitude. 

I was recently reminded of what having perspective can mean in my everyday life. I have been helping my brother move into a brand new apartment. Helping somebody move into a new place is never fun. You have to box everything up and then move it all onto a truck. Then you have to take it all right back off again! After a long day of helping out, I got into my car to drive home. As I backed out of my parking spot, I failed to see the large cement post next to me. My car smacked right into the post, denting the door and scratching the paint.

I was so angry, yet I didn't say a word. I got out of my car and took a look at the damage. Once I got back behind the wheel, I looked over at my dog. He knew something was wrong, and even though I hadn't said a word, I could tell that he knew I was angry. I didn't want him to think that I was mad at him so I took a deep breath. It was right then that I realized the extent of my problem. My car was dented, yes...but it's just a car. My dog and I were fine and the only damage was a dent and some scratches. In the grand scheme of life, this isn't that big of a deal. My anger melted away right then and there. This is perspective.

You can gain perspective in many different avenues of life. Nature has always given me perspective, even before I realized it. I remember the feelings I had on my first trip to Yellowstone National Park. Seeing such awe inspiring landscapes for the first time filled me with happiness, curiosity and a spirit of adventure. This wonder and joy permeated other aspects of my life. I found myself seeking out the unknown more and more. This new found curiosity and independence opened me up to find my true potential. It showed me that there is more to the world then I had ever imagined. I learned that people everywhere share so many similarities, but it's through our differences that we make up such a grand mosaic of cultures. This perspective changed my life.

Perspective takes time to establish. As a kid, it is almost impossible to see beyond your current situation. In middle school, it seemed as though problems were never going to get better. As time goes on and more challenges come and go, you realize that you have the power to overcome. Each problem becomes a piece of armor that you build up to tackle the next issue. The more serious challenges are the ones that shape our character and our souls. It's in these times that we begin to realize what really matters in life. This is where perspective begins. 

Perspective takes hard work to maintain. It is a constant battle inside our minds. It's easy to only think inside your current dilemma, but by making a conscious decision to see beyond yourself, you open up to empathy that will enrich your life and the lives of those around you. It's like the saying goes, "Everyone is fighting a battle that you know nothing about." People make mistakes. It's important to remember that we all have our struggles. Let's cut each other some slack.

Perspective gives us the ability to put others before ourselves, and to look beyond our current situation. In doing so, we can quickly realize that life will go on. It may not always be easy, but you have the tools to get through anything. This perspective gives us the power to summon our own happiness. We can stand strong and choose to have a positive attitude. This decision will become a habit that in time could change your life. It's through perspective that we learn what life is truly about - to put others before yourself, live in the moment and enjoy the ride.