Today, as I am writing this post, the world is battling with an invisible enemy which has totally changed the way we saw things. Many things that we previously took for granted are now in high demand. Incidents like this are making us see the whole picture, where we previously saw only a part of it. This global contagion has altered our perspective in many ways. Unless an external force acts, our perspective will remain the same.
This blog post, however, is not about the virus or its effect on the humanity. But it’s about how our perspective impacts the way we feel and enjoy things as they are. Our perspective, if held in the right manner, will help us lead a more meaningful and happy life. On the other hand, most of the problems that we confront in our daily life, be it in family or in profession, are the result of seeing things in a certain way.
Signs that you are holding the right perspective
- You don’t assume anything beforehand. E.g. Your spouse comes late from office, even after promising to come early. You don’t assume that he/she did it intentionally to screw up your mood
- There is a better bonding in your relationships as you tend to understand people and accept their short comings
- Your focus is always on the positive side of things and you ignore negativity
- People come up to you for advice and solutions to their problems
- You feel grateful for what you already have in life while going after what you want
- People’s actions and reactions don’t bother you, as you know their actions are the expressions of what they hold in their mind
- You don’t try to change things and people that you cannot change and you concentrate on what you can change
- You’re more open to new ideas and concepts and you keep experimenting with them i.e you have a growth mindset
- No matter what’s your age is, you’re a constant learner and you eagerly learn new things
- You know your worthiness and so you don’t beg for people’s attention and validation
What’s a right perspective?
A mother sees her son not doing good at studies. She thinks that he’s going nowhere in life and is doomed to become a failure. Now, why does she think that way? In a society, where doing good at school is linked with doing good at life, holding such a viewpoint is typical. But from her son’s perspective, studies are not the only thing that makes him successful. He has aspirations of becoming a footballer. In this scenario, according to their own perspective, both mother and her son are undoubtedly correct.
But there must a right perspective, isn’t it? From a robber’s point of view, robbing is not at all a sin. His financial situation forces him to do it. But is it correct? No. In the same way, it’s not necessary that our perspective is always correct. In this case of mother and son, mother’s perspective is not right because she’s not open to the idea that football can also be taken as a career, which is true. Without giving her son a chance to pursue his career, she’s assuming that it’s not the right option just because no neighbors have done that.
Seeing things in the right manner simply means you see things as they are and you don’t paint your own stories over them. Stories you tell yourselves about a situation or a problem, will only add fuel to the fire. It also means you ignore the negativity around you and see the bright side of life.
These factors holds you back from getting the right perspective
You may already hold a view about a thing. But only when you step aside from your view and see a problem from another person’s eyes, that you’ll know whether your view is correct or not. If you’re not willing to do that in the first place i.e if you’re not open, you won’t get the real feel of the situation. Only after seeing a problem from multiple dimensions, that you can decide what’s the right perspective. Great leaders make great decisions by looking at a problem from multiple dimensions.
Having said that, certain factors hold you back from getting the right perspective. Some of them are mentioned below.
1. LACK OF AWARENESS
Most of the time, we think our perspective is correct because we lack true knowledge that other perspectives on the same issue exists. For example, as a teenager, you do things that excites you like over-speeding your vehicle. It gives you the feel of thrill and excitement. But you’re unaware that it can cause harm to you, as well as others on the road. You see only the thrill in it while others see the potential danger in it.
Once you’re aware that something that you’re doing is not going to help you in the long run, you make efforts to change it. Awareness starts with knowledge and knowledge starts with real life experiences and by reading or listening to something new. It gives a new perspective and alters your thinking.
We can see many people, commenting things like “Why’s she so fat? I think she eats a lot”, “Why is he getting less salary? He must have not secured any other job or he’s less skilled.”, “Why she’s still unmarried? There must some problem with her”. People who talk like this, assume something in their mind and lack awareness of the true situation. We never know what everyone is going through, so before making such comments in front of them (or behind them), we need to think twice.
How to cultivate awareness
- There is no substitute for real life experience. You became aware that fire hurts you by touching the fire. Your life experiences can teach you many things that increases your awareness but only when you pay attention and be more present with it. You need to be fully engaged in life to feel things and people. Go to new places, talk to new people, go for a trek, learn swimming, etc, as these activities give a different view of the world.
- Books. Read as much of you can. Be it literature, sci-fiction, novel or self help, as they all give you a whole new perspective of life. Reading enlightens you up and you start to see the world in a whole different way. The real life problems that we’re going through has already been gone through by someone else and they have come up with a solution for it in the form of a book.
- Listening to TED talks. There’s a TED talk on literally any subject. These talks are backed by research and real life experiences, which the presenters themselves have gone through. The way they present the talk simply inspires you to change your perspective. You’ll see a post in the blog soon, where I come up with some of the most inspiring TED talks with their summaries.
- Talking to a stranger. In order for you to get a new perspective of life, the best way is to talk to a stranger, who sees life in a totally different manner. For example, if you talk to a Auto rickshaw or cab driver during your commute, you’ll know how they see the world. In some cases, you’ll be inspired to change your views on something after getting convinced.
- Articles on the Internet. In this age of Information Technology, there are too much information in the internet. You’re just a Google search away from any information you need. The algorithms of Google makes sure that you’re seeing the best page for your search. Read them and improve your perspective.
Sometimes, even when we are aware that our view is not correct, we hold onto them. That’s because of our Ego. Ego creates our identity of who we are. Anything that’s not consistent with our identity is simply not accepted.
Considering the same above example, now, let’s say, you’re aware that speeding of vehicle may harm others as well as you. But you still continue to do it because all you want is the thrill and excitement it gives and you don’t care of others. You put yourself first before anything else.
Most of the problems in the households, are not because of lack of awareness, but simply because of Ego. You want yourself to be heard and given importance, even if you were wrong. For example, you say something and there is no response from the other person. Immediately your ego rises, you then go to them and pound them with harsh words. You assume that their action was intentionally done to disrespect you.
But the true case may be different, they might not have heard you or they might have been engaged more deeply in something, that they didn’t notice you.
The ego will not let you think from other person’s perspective and it simply makes you mad. So beware of your Ego.
How to override the Ego
Overriding the Ego is the trickiest part. The first part in overriding the Ego is awareness. As Eckhart Tolle puts in
Ego and Awareness cannot co-exist
It’s normal for everyone to have our own Ego. But when it takes control of us, that’s when the problem starts. So the best way to keep the Ego within its limits is being aware whenever you’re about to react out of Ego. Before shouting at someone, pause for moment, and reflect whether it’s the expression of your Ego. Ego work takes time. But it starts with awareness. Be humble with people.
How improving your perspective makes you perform better
In a TED talk by Kelly McGonigal on How to make stress your friend, she describes that if we view stress and anxiety as our body’s way of energizing us, our response would be much different. She supports her talk with a research done at Harvard University, where people who were suggested that the stress and anxiety they experience during a Math test are helpful for their performance, performed better and were less stressed and more confident than those who weren’t suggested so. I highly suggest you to check out this talk. Viewing stress as something that helps you, makes you feel less stressed. The lesser you feel stressed, more the years you add to your life. Yes, people who stress out less are the ones who go on to live longer.
In his book ‘Atomic Habits’, James Clear points out that instead of viewing the workout as something that’s draining and sweating, if you view it as something that builds your endurance and strength, then you’re most likely to workout. It all starts with a mind-set shift (yeah the perspective shift!)
Life is a series of problems.You confront one, then comes the other, or sometimes multiple problems at the same time. Instead of asking God “Why me?”, shift your attitude to “It’s normal to have problems in life, but they are not permanent and there’s always a lesson to learn from each problem”. When this attitude shift happens, then the way you respond to the problem changes, where previously you reacted to them, now you try solve them.
In short, when you see the positive side of life, life becomes beautiful and there are endless opportunities to be grabbed. The Universe fall in love with you and moves mountains to give the one that you’re after. On the other hand, life becomes so mean and unhappy, when you see only the negative side of things most of the time.
“How to make stress your friend”, TED talk by Kelly McGonigal
Book “Atomic Habits”, International best-seller, by James Clear
Book “The Power of Now”, International best-selling book, by Echkart Tolle
As I have mentioned, in my Bio, this blog and myself are work in progress and there might be some difference of opinion among us. Once again, it’s all about perspective. But I am open to suggestions. So feel free to comment your views. Let’s engage in making ourselves better.