Studies confirm again and again how tremendously powerful our minds are. Alia Crum, PhD, who directs the Stanford Mind and Body Lab highlights these findings:
“People who believe doing physical work in a job counts as exercise live longer lives, independent of how much exercise they actually get. Likewise, telling people a milkshake they drank was 'indulgent' made them feel more full. Telling them a drink they were consuming had caffeine raised their blood pressure irrespective of the fact if caffeine was present or not.”
What does this tell us? Our thoughts greatly influence not only our mental wellbeing but also our physical wellbeing. Thinking positive, life-giving thoughts can literally change our lives.
Choose Your Perspective
The other day my friend Gigi told me the perfect story to illustrate ‘perspective’. Gigi told me there is a road north of Atlanta that she absolutely loves. Driving down that road she marvels at all the majestic horses, large estates, and lush greenery. Every time she drives there, she slows down to take it all in.
The other day, her parents came to visit and she took them down that very road. Just as they arrived at the end of it her dad said “What an ugly road. Did you see all the electrical poles and wiring along the street?”
They drove down the exact same road, at the same time, in the same car, but had a vastly different experience. Each of them chose to focus their attention on different aspects of the same situation.
Why Do our Perspectives Differ?
“Everything you see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to you. You create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe you perceive is specific to you.”
– Douglas Adams
We create our realities based on how we perceive certain situations and events. These “stories” tend to run in our subconscious minds, affecting how we respond to everything around us. For example, any time you ‘mess up’ you could focus on the embarrassment or instead concentrate on the lessons learned. Even when you did something really well, you may still spend more time on beating yourself up about the one area you would have liked to have done differently than celebrating the many areas you aced.
Waking up in the morning, you may feel burdened about the day ahead rather than celebrating the facts that you are able to have so many wonderful experiences in your life. You are not in prison, but get to choose how you spend every minute of your day.
When your car breaks down you may want to fixate on the disruption in your life, or you could find gratitude for the friend who picked you up or the nice mechanic that fixed your car.
I’m not suggesting you put blinders on your feelings and shove down your emotions. What I am proposing is for you to make the conscious choice to see the best in every situation instead of focusing on the worst of it.
How to Gain a Better Perspective
Recently, while speaking with JOYVIAL health coach Lisa, we talked about perspective. Lisa picked up a pen and asked me “What do you see? “A pen, I said''. She wasn’t satisfied and asked me for more details. I said “an orange clip and the JOYVIAL logo printed on white background.”
She looked shocked and said “Really? I don’t see that.” She flipped the pen around to demonstrate what the pen looked like from her point of view. She couldn’t see the JOYVIAL logo but instead found the website address and phone number.
Like in Gigi’s example of her beautiful road, Lisa pointed out that we all can look at the same world but see completely different things.
For us to gain a new perspective, sometimes we have to temporarily let go of the way we see the world, get up and walk a few steps to look at the situation from a different angle. Doing so is a choice. However, let’s admit though that most of the time we believe our view of the world is the only truth. This can lead to a lot of frustration and even hostility as we interact with others.
To make things even harder, most of us have a subconscious program that leads us to defend our position at all cost. ’Being wrong’ implies there is something wrong with us. I know I had that deeply rooted belief. It makes sense.
How often in childhood were those who had the right answer praised and those who had the wrong answer were scolded? So don’t take it personal. Your desire to be right is deeply rooted in you.
Another wonderful way to gain perspective is to ‘zoom out’. Often when we are stressed and worry it’s because we are way too deep in the details. We get aggravated about the smallest things or better said, the smallest things feel like big problems.
At JOYVIAL, we use the analogy of “Google Earth.” When stressed, we are likely sitting on the map’s col-du-sac literally just seeing the immediate narrow street in front of us. Zooming out is like viewing the whole earth from space.
We remember the big picture of our overarching intentions. We are reminded of our purpose and long-term vision. This helps us gain a fresh perspective. It’s just a little bump in the road on your lengthy journey.
On occasions my ego wants me to get anxious about an upcoming deadline. It will rattle off all the things I still need to do and create stress around the minimal amount of time left.
“Zooming out” in those moments I remind myself of our company’s purpose, to create JOYful, healthy, fulfilled lives. Not being able to cross all t’s and dot all the i’s on one project isn’t going to derail this purpose. Realizing this allows me to breathe easier, step away from the immediate challenge and more calmly think about how to solve the situation at hand.
To summarize, gaining personal perspective requires you to make a choice and to act on it. You can look at the situation from a different angle or simply zoom out to see the bigger picture. Reach out to us so we can partner you up with one of our executive health coaches who will support you in managing your mindset and/or creating greater health and wellness in your life.
At JOYVIAL, we are committed to helping you live your healthiest, most JOYful, fulfilled life. Click the 'Contact' button in the top right corner or simply send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free discovery session.