In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis uses the story of Eustace to demonstrate the power of perspective. Greedy and awful, the boy Eustace lives with a perspective centered on self. He always feels slighted, even as he continues to act in a mean and menacing way.
On a magic island, Eustace comes across a dragon’s treasure and believes his lust for riches is now fulfilled. When he puts a bracelet around his bicep and falls asleep, he becomes a dragon. The bracelet becomes so tight on his (now) dragon arm he finds himself in utter agony. The treasure he thought would give him joy instead brings agony.
In a similar way, false perception harms us. It whispers lies, suggesting the intrigue of the grass on the other side without mentioning its dangers. Preying on our fears and our tendency toward dissatisfaction, our perception can take us on quests for treasures that become snares.
Choosing a true perspective allows us to escape the idea that “dragon treasure” will bring us happiness. The false idea that joy comes through changed circumstance.
In his suffering, the dragon-boy is humbled. He helps others, even as he laments his circumstance. In the end, he learns a true perspective, that joy is founded in serving. The secret to the life we long for is not in any external treasure. It lies within, and is unlocked by discovering a true perspective.