Can’t See The Forest, For The Trees


Can’t See The Forest, For The Trees

“Can’t see the forest, for the trees.” What does this idiom mean? I believe that this idiom is simultaneously the most confusing and most misunderstood.

People spit this phrase “Can’t see the forest, for the trees.” at others and aren’t entirely too sure of what it means themselves. I am going to explain it to you the best way that I know how. I asked my mother and did a bit of research and I came to the conclusion that this idiom means: an excessive amount of unnecessary attention is given to the details, while the bigger picture is being ignored, because the details are being fixated on so much.

People our age really struggle and have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. When you strip this idiom of the word “can’t” it means the opposite of what I explained before. If you are able to see the forest for the trees you have the ability to see the bigger picture and not get caught up on every little detail of a particular situation.

Our generation struggles so heavily with seeing the forest for the trees, because we are spoiled. Simply put. We live in a society where we do not have to wait for many things. If we want the news, we no longer have to read the newspaper or watch the news on television. We open our Twitter, Facebook, or any other app that is able to provide us with the information that we need. If we are hungry we are able to drive to a fast-food restaurant, order food from our cars, and drive away with unhealthy food that we waited all of ten minutes for.

Our generation in particular has also been victim of too much coddling. Google defines coddling as a way to treat something or someone in an overprotective manner. Face it we are a bit sensitive! We are not okay with getting our feelings hurt and we are definitely not okay when things do not go our way. We have been so protected and sheltered by our guardians providing comfortable lives for us. We loose sight of the bigger picture and get so preoccupied with the details. We become haunted by everything that is not going according to plan.

We tend to focus on everything that we are upset about instead of taking time to recognize the things that are going pretty well. Sometimes the only thing you have to be happy about is the fact that you are alive.

I completed my freshman year of college about four months ago. I had a plan of working the entire summer. I was going to save the money I made over the summer and use the money to live off of while I was in school. Can you guess what happens next? Yes, Sherlock Holmes…things didn’t go according to plan. I did not work at all this summer. I asked God “Why me?” I could not understand why I wasn’t able to find a job in a timely manner.

I applied to everywhere I could possibly think of and still had no luck. A few jobs contacted me back but nothing panned out. I dwelled in my misfortunes for a while. One morning Wegman’s (a grocery store) called me to tell me that unfortunately they were not able to hire me, because they were looking for people to replace the workers who were going to college. Once I hung up the phone, I lost it. I cried for a solid half an hour, because I was so frustrated with the fact that I didn’t have a job.

I used all of my time focusing on what I did not have instead of what I did. Dwelling in the positive will change your life. You will begin to appreciate and be grateful for the things that happen to you. Understand that life is not about maximizing the highs and dwelling or praying that the lows do not occur. Life IS a roller coaster. You are going to have unbelievable highs, where life cannot seem to get any better. You are also going to have lows where life cannot seem to get any worse. You have to learn how to make the best out of not so great times. Bring joy to someone else and you shall receive joy. Make a list of all the things you have to be grateful for.

Force yourself to smile. I know it sounds stupid but smile. When you smile a gland in your body releases endorphins. Endorphins interact with opiate receptors in our body and reduce pain. So smiling will send chemicals to your brain to make you happy! The New York Times has a great article on how  smiles affect moods. Challenge yourself to see the forest for the trees. Do not loose sight of the bigger picture, because you are focusing so heavily on the details. Take advice from the rapper J.Cole, “We ain’t picture perfect but we’re worth the picture still.”  Just hang in there a little longer, things will get better.

– Ariana

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