Perspective Is Everything

3 min read

Perspective Is Everything




The concept of training the mind will profoundly affect the actions you take next and how you lead your life. Of course, “everything in life” entails the good, the bad, the struggles, the disappointments and all situations that fall in-between. And you may not be able to change certain outcomes or circumstances that have occurred, but you do have the ability to change how you handle situations. With just a shift in attitude, perspective or approach, you can turn awkward, bad or uncomfortable situations into valuable experiences and even master using kindness and humour to turn things around. The first step is being aware of how you see the situation, and acknowledging the story you tell yourself about it. Once you start to alter your story, it becomes one of the most valuable skills you can have.

I’ll give you an example. Two people may experience the same event, but tell themselves different stories about it. The first person might say:

I’ve been dieting for a month now and haven’t lost any weight. Why is this so hard?

On the other hand, someone else might say:

I’ve been dieting for a month now and haven’t lost any weight, maybe I need to look at what I am doing and make a change.” 
The small but important perceptual difference not only affects the quality of each person’s life, but how they interpret the current situation and what actions they will take next. In this example, the first person has associated dieting with disappointment and frustration, focusing on the outcome rather than looking at different ways to achieve their goal. The second person, however, has taken this same situation and acknowledged their control to make change, shifting towards a more positive outlook and a willingness to adapt. From these examples, you can clearly see who is willing to give dieting another go, and who has already given up.

Let’s take a look at another example. Two people have the same role in the workplace, and their work is assigned and assessed by their manager on a daily basis. On a Friday afternoon when they’re both eager to get home, the workers are planning to finish at 5pm. At 4:30pm they decide to scuffle their paperwork together and submit it to the manager with the hope of getting out of the office as soon as possible. As they wait for the signal to leave, the manager instead pulls them both aside and gives them extensive feedback on what needs to be fixed before they leave for the day. 

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “life is 10% of what happens and 90% of how you respond to it”. In the above situation, the common response might be to feel annoyed, angry or frustrated, and to be honest, it would be quite normal to feel this way. In reality, not everything goes to plan or works out the way you want. But how you feel about the situation and how you respond, and act are very different. Your response will then impact how you feel, act, and how quickly you overcome the situation.

For instance, one worker might say:

“I can’t believe he asked us to stay back! I reckon he’s doing this on purpose to ruin our Friday night.”

On the other hand, the second worker might say:

“It’s annoying that we have to stay back but we both did rush the work, and this is pretty good feedback.”

The first worker has interpreted the manager’s feedback as just an ‘excuse’ to keep both the workers back. The second person has been able to turn away from their frustration and shift towards a more understanding and learning approach. Because of this, the second person is more likely to finish up quickly and get on with their evening, while the first person is more likely to dwell, be annoyed and stay annoyed, and likely bring this frustration back to work with them the following week.

Although this particular example might seem like a small moment, keep in mind that these types of situations occur every single day, and have an ongoing occurrence. In most instances, we’re not consciously aware when it’s happening and so we react impulsively, negatively affecting ourselves and anyone else involved. Once we can identify when our reactions are getting the better of us, we can work towards responding to the situation better.

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