My silly space dream ain’t going to happen.
I don’t have the dollars to ride on one of Branson’s rockets. I’ll never be rich enough to go to space because I’m not going to allow myself to become Lambo-successful. Nope.
I want to use money to buy back my freedom, instead of purchase “stuff” that enslaves me. Yet space fascinates me … and most people.
Seven interviews of astronauts taught me these bizarre lessons. Apply them to your life.
“The Overview Effect” is an odd phenomenon that changes your reality
Frank White has the cool title of “space writer.” He came up with the phrase “The Overview Effect.”
It’s a mental transformation astronauts go through while in space. They change from inward-focused to outward-focused. They get to come to terms with the fact Earth is part of a larger universe, as opposed to us earthly prisoners who think our planet is the only one in the galaxy because we can’t visit space. What we can’t see doesn’t exist.
Frank believes The Overview Effect could save Earth.
If all the climate change skeptics could become space tourists they would stop thinking carbon emissions are a fantasy that doesn’t need urgent attention.
There is so much more to life than the earthly planet you are born on. Zoom out to consider most of what you think is important, is actually a teeny-tiny problem an earthly citizen faces. Earth life is inherently selfish. Galaxy life is where deep thinking stems from.
Home is Earth, not a state
Astronaut Chris Hadfield took a photo of Pakistan where six million people live. When he looked back over those photos he no longer saw Pakistanis as “them.” No. Chris says, “I realized that that part of the world had become us for me”
From Earth, countries feel like different places. From space, all countries feel like one place.
Another astronaut, Nicole Scott, couldn’t wait to see her Florida state from space. As her stay in space continued she came to the conclusion “Earth’s my home.” When your feet are on solid Earth ground you’re in the middle of it. From space Nicole found that once you’re outside of Earth you get a feeling of interconnectivity. Her advice is to separate ourselves from things that are important to us so we can understand them in a new way.
It’s not just current residents of Earth that these astronauts thought about. Astronaut Jerry Linenger began thinking about ancient civilizations while staring at rivers. He realized modern humans need water to drink the same way humans from ancient civilizations did. With the exception of Apple Watches, are we really that different from ancient civilizations?
Dinner in space has no race
American astronaut Leland Melvin describes going from the US to the Russian segment of the space station for dinner. On his mission there were Russians and Germans that his fellow Americans used to fight against. Other members were French, Asian-American, and African-American.
While at the space dinner table they each look at their homes as the world zooms past them in the window. “There’s Virginia,” Leland says. Leo sees his home in France minutes later. Then Yuri sees his home in Russia.
The trip around the world took 90 minutes.
Leland expected the excitement of being in space to be the highlight. He later realized the human-made borders that space dinner obliterated was the true magic of his trip. They now had a shared home.
The imagination is more powerful than you think
Astronaut Mae Jemison found her imagination went to a whole new level.
She felt like an outsider in space. On the other side of the door to the spaceship is the atmosphere that doesn’t support her species. Without a spacesuit she’d be dead. This reminded her of her tourist status. She pictured herself in space alone, in a big glass bubble with her cat. That would really make her feel like she was “on top of the world-d-d-d!”
She even tried to imagine being in another star system 10,000 light-years away. One thing none of the astronauts seem to have imagined is aliens. They go to space and imagine they’re alone. Weird.
Imagination is a powerful human experience. It can completely change the way you think and cause you to have odd thoughts you didn’t know you were capable of having. But imagination can solve problems too. If you can imagine a solution then the outcome you’re seeking becomes possible.
Astronaut Nicole Scott’s imagination made her feel like she could almost reach into the Earth from her spaceship window.
You’re already in paradise
On a spacewalk, Mike Massimino, got to see Earth from different angles. He got to see her gorgeous curves. Inside the spaceship feels like being stuck in a home with windows. Once you’re spacewalking it feels like being in a backyard with limitless distance in front of you. Life is open outside of the spaceship.
The whole experience made Mike say “our planet is a paradise.”
Jim Lovell from Apollo 13 is the seventh and final astronaut I learned from. He says he knows what heaven is like because he was born there.
You don’t need to die and go to heaven. You’re in heaven on Earth. That’s what you can learn from seven astronauts.
This article first appeared on Entrepreneur.