The Overview Effect


Written: Dec. 5th, 2020 Approx Reading Time: 4 mins

Honestly today didn't start off great.

I stayed up the night before as I couldn't sleep. As a result, I was feeling off from not sleeping.

Then I got a call from my friend telling me that my High School bullies were treating this girl badly.

It brought up a lot of past emotions and made me wish I could've done more to stop it from happening to anyone else.

When times like this happen I want to sleep it off or watch a comfort movie to get my mind off things. Then I feel really guilty for being "unproductive."

I know that sometimes I don't take breaks enough and I just keep working.

But today was another good reminder to not take life so seriously sometimes.

Nothing is important enough for me to throw away my health.

We need to give ourselves time to feel what we feel during emotional times and to take a break.

I know that's easier said than done and I'm still quite bad at doing this. Breaks make me feel guilty but I feel less guilty about them than I did a year ago.

What I've learned about important lessons: they take a while to fully internalize.

You'll hear advice like "breaks are important" and "make sure you get enough sleep." Maybe you try to implement them for a bit and then stop because you don't see the value in it. Or you just don't try at all until you have an experience that shows you how important that thing really is.

For me I've found internalizing important lessons like this one takes emotional experiences. After emotional experiences you either want to do something more or know you don't want to do something more.

After having those experiences the next step is turning experience into action.

You can have lots of lessons and things you'd like to do from an experience. But if you don't actually do anything off of that it's a waste of that experience.

I think action can be the hardest steps. One key component to help the action piece is to have a strong why behind why you want to do x and use that why as a motivator to do it now.

I saw this tweet today that resonated well with this thought-trail:


Like these questions as prompts to figure out what matters the most everyday.

I hope to start asking some of these more. Specifically, "why am I taking this so seriously" and "am I progressing?"

Off of the conversation I had with my friend today I was thinking about why people are mean to each other. This is something I've thought a lot about over the years. I've had trouble wrapping my head on what positive comes out of being mean to people/gossip.

My thought-process on why people are mean/gossip:

(if you have any thoughts on this you'd like to share - 📧 astronautadara@gmail.com)

  • For short-term outcomes: e.g. wanting to look cool or get into a friend group
  • They're going through a lot and it's how they're dealing with their feelings or they think it might make them feel better about themselves.
  • They're jealous and that made them want to tear people down.

I've learned this from experiences I've had with bullying and talking to people to gain perspective. I know there are probably more reasons as well but wanted to share my thoughts at the moment.

I think keeping some of those things ^ in mind helps to not take gossip/mean comments to heart as much. I don't know if anyone reads my blogs but if you are (thank you 💜) and if you are currently experiencing bullying: I know it's really hard + I'm sorry that's happening, and if you need someone to talk to about it you can email me whenever (the same email as a paragraph up).

Thinking about the bigger picture has been a really useful tool for me. It's help me in learning not to take everything seriously, not to take what my bullies said to heart, etc.

I love something called,

✨The Overview Effect. ✨

I learned about this in a brainpod with Manan Arya. He works at NASA at their Jet Propulsion Lab. I've always been in awe of his work with origami engineering. Check him out by clicking his name.

What's the overview effect?

It's this phenomenon that astronauts experience looking out of the window of their spacecraft or the International Space Station and they see Earth. They realize how small we really are relative to the rest of the Universe and feel a sense of urgency to become stewards for our planet (e.g. promoting climate action).

I think it's really beautiful and a great model for thinking about things.

Since I've learned about this whenever I'm having a hard time I try to remind myself to utilize the overview effect. No, I haven't fully experienced this effect but I tell myself to think about the bigger picture. Why am I taking x so seriously? What is one step I can do to take control of the situation?

Asking myself those questions helped me a lot today. So much so my day got better.

I went out to do errands with my mom and we ended up getting one of my favourite lunches.

At home, I took the rest of the day easy. Spent time with family and wrote some songs before bed.

Good List + Gratitude

  • Vietnamese Sandwich + Boba
  • The Sunset
  • My family

Your friendly neighborhood: using the overview effect

- Astro Girl 💜

Written by @astro_adara in December 2020.