Seeing the Full Picture

Focusing on one aspect of life can deprive us of a clearer view
By Danae Smith
Danae Smith
Danae Smith
Danae Smith is the founder of This Wondrous Life, a lifestyle blog rooted in pursuing a life lived simply, slowly, and with community. She believes there is more to the mundane than meets the eye. You can also find her on Instagram.
October 18, 2021 Updated: October 18, 2021

I almost got into an accident.

It was Monday evening, and there was a line of cars in front of me in the turning lane. When the last car got over, I moved forward. The light was still green for me, but it was likely “left turn yield on green” for the other side.

A car decided to risk it all and make that turn. I slowed and attempted to change lanes to avoid having to slam on the brakes, but the other driver moved into the lane I was changing to, so I moved back to my previous lane, only for them to then swerve back. It was a mess that ended with me slamming on my brakes and losing my cool.

Thankfully, we didn’t hit each other, and we drove our separate ways as if nothing happened. I, however, wasn’t OK. I was annoyed and frustrated. I was like this for a long time, just ruminating over the carelessness of the whole situation; fuming at the other person.

Then it hit me: I didn’t get into an accident.

I didn’t get into an accident, which would’ve been horrible. I’m safe. My car wasn’t damaged. I’m still here. I’m good. The other person is also good and without damage to their car. No extra money had to be shelled out for anything. No exchanging of insurance information. We walked away unscathed.

It easily could’ve been a different story. Yet I was so focused on what almost happened that I overlooked what actually happened.

How often do we do that? How often do we go through life hyper-focused on what almost happened versus what actually happened? How often do we replay all the negative things versus seeing and celebrating the moments and experiences that were good, worthy, and pivotal to our journey?

I can speak for myself and say that I do it often. I did it last week. It’s easy to give our attention to the negative or “almost” moments. It’s easy to ruminate over those experiences. What I learned and am learning is that that’s no way to live. When we keep our attention on the negative, we can lose sight of what actually matters. We can lose sight of the good unfolding in our lives in the current moment. We miss out on leaning into gratitude.

I’m not suggesting you ignore or stuff anything down. We have full permission to sit with and feel what needs to be felt in a given moment. I did that. I allowed myself to be frustrated, annoyed, angry even. But, I also let myself become consumed by what almost happened, and that clouded my vision. That fogged up my ability to see the full picture. The full picture being “yes—I almost got into an accident, but I didn’t. I walked away.”

It’s the same with many experiences. Life is full of twists. I say that often because it’s true. It’s full of ups, downs, and standstill moments. The full picture isn’t one side of that. The full picture isn’t just the twist or turn, it’s also the coming around to the other side of the bend.

We have the opportunity to look at life through more than one lens. We have permission to see the picture in full: what could’ve happened and what didn’t. We have permission to see who we are on the other side of it. Life is layered and multifaceted. Our view of it can be too.

As this week unfolds, I invite myself and others to shift our lens so we may see the full, vibrant picture that is life fully lived. May we give ourselves permission to see our lives and who we are in them in fullness.

Danae Smith
Danae Smith is the founder of This Wondrous Life, a lifestyle blog rooted in pursuing a life lived simply, slowly, and with community. She believes there is more to the mundane than meets the eye. You can also find her on Instagram.