*Originally published here, for THE LIFE by Jules
Perspective is everything.
That’s a phrase we hear all the time, probably without paying much attention to it. But go back and read it again, really slowly this time.
Perspective. Is. Everything.
I have a secret to tell you: everything is only as you see it. Which means that if you see something negatively, it will be negative, and if you see something positively, it will be positive.
Does this mean that shitty things don’t happen? Nope; those things are a part of life. But if we accept that sometimes, bad things are going to happen, we can shift our perspective entirely to focus on how we react to them happening.
Let’s start with a really simple example that you may have already experienced in your own life: rainy days. If you wake up, underprepared, and it’s raining out, your mind probably goes “ugggghhh. What a pain in the ass. I’ve got a meeting, my shoes are going to be destroyed, my hair will be written off, traffic will be a nightmare, and I’m already annoyed before the coffee is even brewed.”
It’s already a bad day and you’re not even out of bed.
But let’s say that you take a different approach, and keep the perfect trench in your closet, own very simple black umbrella – that doesn’t blow away and that actually DOES fit in your purse – and have a great pair of wellies on hand, the rain doesn’t affect you in the same way. It’s almost exciting, because you get to pull out these extra pieces on your arsenal that don’t get used on the daily.
Same rain, same traffic problems, different perspective, totally different day.
The mind is a funny thing, and as humans, we get trapped in the same patterns of thinking over and over again. Our thoughts dictate our actions, so when we are stuck in the same pattern of thinking, we effectively get stuck in the same patterns of behaviour.
So if we want to change our behaviour, and make our lives feel better, fuller, richer, more exciting, more alive, more adventurous, literally all we have to do is change our thoughts.
How do we do that? It’s a practice, and for many of us, a practice that unfolds over a lifetime.
But if you’re keen to start now – and good for you, because in doing so you’re about to uncover a whole bunch of magic, just waiting for you beneath the surface – here are three ways to get you going in the right direction.
- Be Kind – it is easy – SO EASY – to snap, blame, criticize, judge, and use sarcasm. But in doing so, you remain in a bad mood with a problem left unsolved. By actively choosing to be kind (in your words, expressions, actions, body language, daily habits, online behaviour) you are starting that first ripple. So what if someone gets ahead of you at Starbucks? Yes, the frontline staff at every 1-800 number can be frustrating to deal with. Absolutely, your kids and partner make mistakes – this is how we learn. By responding to anyone’s actions in a way that is not kind, it does not serve you, them, or the situation. Responding kindly mellows people immediately and softens the exchange that is to follow.
- Practice Gratitude – we all have a lot to be thankful for. A lot. But our lives are so busy, and our messages are so mixed, that it is very easy to overlook the joy and abundance we already have, in our quest for wanting more, and pining for what we don’t have. By taking pause and stopping for a minute to appreciate how lucky we already are, we draw our attention to all of the wonder we experience every day. This can be a simple thing to do when you’re walking, driving, waiting, doing whatever. Stop and take note – at least once daily – to write down five things you are grateful for: a warm home, a great conversation with your mom, that your kids resolved a problem at school, that they told you about the problem in the first place, for your job, for the friendly barista who made your matcha, that your hubby still has a great head of hair. The more you are grateful for, the more you will notice you have an entire life to be grateful for, and your thoughts will immediately see the bigger picture.
- Choose Love – always. Again, it is easier in the short term to hold a grudge, to feel slighted or victimized, to carry hate in your heart even in small ways. But in the long term, it is so much easier to let that shit go. And we let go of our anger (which is essentially the opposite of love, and often disguising our fear), by continuously choosing love. Teach yourself to love what is, and to repeatedly show up from a calm place of love in everything you do, in your work life, home life, social life and beyond. Keep choosing to not only do the right thing, but to let love be the motivating force behind every move you make, rather than let old angers and fears drive you.
Each of these three perspective changes are deep, life-shifting changes in your daily thought patterns, and still, as complex as they can be, they are truly very simple practices that you can choose to adopt right this very moment, and start to witness and feel the profound effect they will have on your day to day, and overall life.