The Power of… PERSPECTIVE
“What we see depends on what we look for.”
- John Lubbock
PERSPECTIVE. What type of lenses are you looking through? Do you generally see problems or possibilities?
With the fluctuations in the economy, the backdrop of multiple wars, and the tempestuous weather showing us evidence of global warming, change is clearly in the air. For many people the uncertainty of what will come can be quite stressful. However, as the Chinese saying goes: “Crisis is an incipient moment (when something begins or changes).” The outcome will depend on your perspective, which in turn will drive your choices.
Just as a photographer uses various lenses to show “reality” in different ways, we each have a set of filters – experience, culture, economic status, mental and physical health, etc. — through which we see the world. If life constantly looks dismal to you, it could be your perspective. Your viewpoint shapes your thoughts, decisions, actions – and ultimately, your feeling of success. For example, have you ever wondered why people in some of the poorest parts of the world seem happier than those in the wealthiest nations? It’s probably because they view life through the value-lenses of health and family versus wealth and fame. Of course, those choices are not mutually exclusive. However, if you lose the latter you can recover, if you lose the former you’re truly lost.
The outside world is based on your thoughts and mental attitude.
Remember a time when your perspective changed dramatically, such as falling in love or a death in the family. In an instant, your orientation shifted. What you placed in focus was different. The world may have looked brighter, or dimmer. You may have been prompted to action. If you just welcomed the birth of your first child, for example, you may start thinking about the quality of the local school system or have the impetus to leave work earlier. If you are experiencing a challenging time right now, think about how you can shift your perspective. If you’ve lost your job, maybe it’s an opportunity to go back to school or turn your hobby into a business. If you must reduce your spending, maybe it’s an opportunity to streamline your entire life and spend more time around the dinner table with your family. Taking an optimistic viewpoint, the tumult in our external world may be prompting us to go inside ourselves and reevaluate our core values. It may even usher us into a new spiritual paradigm where the currency is how many people we can inspire versus how many things we can acquire (see The Power Living Manifesto).
The Yoga Sutras teach us that the entire world is our own projection, and that things outside neither bind nor liberate us; only our attitudes toward them does that. Think about the belief that “life is hard.” If you operate from this assumption, everything you do will seem like a struggle. You look for challenges in every situation, potentially creating your own roadblocks. Instead, if you turn that around to “I am meant to succeed,” then you open your mind to new ideas. As Sri Swami Satchidananda said: “There’s nothing wrong with the world. You can make it heaven or hell according to your approach.” The ability to reframe a situation is an important skill that can transform your world. Today, take time to clear your lenses so you can view life from a higher perspective.
- Be a neutral observer. When a situation occurs, don’t immediately judge it. Take a deep breath and take yourself out of it. Try to see it from multiple angles.
- Take an optimist viewpoint. Look for the opportunity in a seemingly “bad” situation.
- Deliberately test out a new perspective. Next time you are in a traffic jam, don’t fret about “wasted” time. Use it as a chance to meditate or do some isometric exercises.
- Be grateful for what you have. Next time you think you have it bad, think about those who have it worse. Remember the Denis Waitely quote: “I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet.”
- Offer your services to someone who could benefit from your talents. This may change their perspective as well as your own.
- Keep a “belief journal.” Write down your core values and beliefs. Determine which ones serve you and which ones don’t. Constantly review it and make adjustments.
Today, I have an optimistic view on life.
I look for the opportunity in every situation. I accept new ideas and viewpoints. I know that all is working for my Highest Good. I understand that the outside world is based on my thoughts and mental attitude. If I control my mind and frame of reference, I have controlled everything.
Today, I have an optimistic view on life.
Copyright Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy. Power Living Column Vol. 67.07, originally published November 2004; revised November 2008. Teresa Kennedy has written over 70 “The Power of…” columns that are available for syndication. Photo credit: Janie Sykes-Kennedy.
Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy is a Harvard Business School-trained Strategist, Mind-Body Expert, Award-Winning Author, Keynote Speaker and Activist. She is Founder & CEO of Power Living and creator of Elder Dignity. Selected as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, her mission is to unleash human potential and create a more just and sustainable world.
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