Details or Big Picture

Are you a detail or big picture person? We’ve all heard the saying “can’t see the forest for the trees” which essentially means one gets so engulfed in details, they lose sight of the big picture. Both details and big pictures in life are important, yet we naturally gravitate toward one or the other mainly because of our brain dominance.

Last month, my friend Ted did a podcast in which he gave a great visual for this particular saying about the forest and the trees. Take a listen and you’ll maybe have an aha moment like Ted did! I’m a detail person and it often takes a change in perspective or a conscious reminder for me to step back and see the bigger picture of projects, life events or even daily activities. Shifting my perspective to the big picture takes effort; it’s not my sweet spot.  If you’re a big picture person, maybe paying attention to the minute details drives you crazy, but at some point, it’s necessary to function well in life. Either way, doing the opposite of what’s comfortable is beneficial for our brains and our lives.

We all have a natural tendency toward one side of our brain as more dominant than the other. But our brain is meant to function as a whole. When all we do is rely on our strengths and what’s comfortable, we’ll never really see both the forest AND the trees of life. So let’s make sure we switch up our perspective every so often. That was the intent of my blog series in January highlighting different people and their perspectives. It’s good to change things up and look at things from a new angle, not only because it creates new ideas and views, but also more brain connections.

When we use our non-dominant side or step out of our comfort zone of thinking, we are utilizing the other side of our brain that is not our natural strength. The more we do this, the more we strengthen those brain cells and grow our cognitive reserve. This cognitive reserve can assist us in everyday life and as we age.

Studies have shown those with large cognitive reserve usually function better as they age, have stronger memories and can withstand the physical onslaught of brain degenerative diseases. What great motivation! It allows the connections in our brain to grow and stay strong, which will only help as we grow older. So if shifting my perspective towards the ‘forest’ a bit more will assist me in aging well, to me that’s a no-brainer! 🙂

This week, let’s all shift our focus and perspective. Initially, it may be a bit more uncomfortable but then take it slow in small increments. Seek out the opinions and input of opposite minded people. Take a wider view if you’re into the details or hone in on the specifics if you prefer the big picture. Try to use your non-dominant side in benign activities like brushing your teeth or hair and see how it’s not that easy! Remind yourself that even it’s a little harder, you’re strengthening your cognitive reserve.

Let’s step out of our boxes and see both the forest and trees of our moments to make them even more memorable!

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