Volume 31



Looking at the power of perspective

Learning to rein in and overcome the effects of physical states, the embodiment of visual perception, its connection to motivation and how we can reframe our minds to conquer obstacles is an invaluable tool for success.

This tactic can be well applied to school work, tests, and every daily life as a Harvard-Westlake (HW) student. With the power of perspective, we can reevaluate our vision to focus less on the struggles of academics, but the opportunities, experiences, and appreciation for the people around us.

HW 7th grade dean Jon Carroll spoke on the topic of how students should avoid falling victim to stress under pressure of a strenuous workload

“Students have to think about who they are, and what they want to accomplish, and focus on pursuing that course, rather than following victim to peer pressure or parent’s opinions,” Carroll said.

Social psychologist, Emily Bao, studies a perceptual strategy appropriately namedkeep your eyes on the prize”. In a scientific experiment, she treated one experimental group to focus their attention on the finish line, avoid looking around, and imagine the spotlight was shining on that goal. She compared this group to a second baseline group that was told to look around the environment. The results: people who kept their eyes on the prize saw the finish line has as 30 percent closer and said it required 17 percent less exertion for them to complete this exercise, as compared to people who just naturally looked around, illustrating how if we view our challenges with a positive and visible end goal in mind, we are more likely to accomplish them quickly.

This shows that we should look at the challenges we face in a different light to meet our goals. Regardless of how our bodies operate, or how the environment reacts around us, we can choose to keep our eyes on the prize, and when we find a way to make the finish line seem closer, with this mindset, we will ultimately get there faster.

Our minds’ visual perception is not only embodied but is motivated as well. One instance is the New York City Marathon. On the morning of the race, tens of thousands of runners stand at the entrance to Staten Island and prepare for the 26.2 miles ahead of them. As the runners weave their way through the city, they face physical and mental challenges. The most formidable of those challenges occurs at about mile 20; it is around this time in the race many runners hit the wall.

Physiological cues such as exhaustion, dehydration and severe muscle fatigue indicate that the runner’s physical energy is depleted. In spite of that, marathoners are able to push through and continue. How do people continue on when their physical sources are spent? In 1980, Boston Marathon winner Jacqueline Goro said, “The body does not want you to continue. As you run, it tells you to stop. But the mind must be strong. It is not age, it is not diet, it is the will to succeed.”

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