“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.“ Marcel Proust
If you’re like me, you may have thought that your way of thinking was the only rational way to view things. After all, most of us have a vested interest in being right, don’t we? We can’t possibly believe that the saying, “walking with blinders on”, applies to us. But life has a way of bringing us to varying levels of humility, until we are forced to reckon with the reality that there might be a healthier way to view people and events. Haven’t you ever assumed something about someone only to discover that your opinion was totally off base? We attribute so much of what we think to what we can see with our naked eye, and forget that this is just a tiny part of the story—and a really tiny part at that.
So how do we embrace a wider, more positive viewpoint? How do we shift our perspective about people or events in our life? First, it starts with our core beliefs. Do we believe that people are essentially loving and kind or do we think they are out to get us? Do we believe in an abundant universe, knowing that all our good will come to us and everything will work out just fine, or do we approach life with a “crabs in a barrel” mentality, thinking only of our personal gain because we think it all boils down to a survival of the fittest? Do we see the proverbial glass as half full or half empty? “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV) Our core beliefs shape not only our view of the world, but our interactions with others. Believe the best, and life responds accordingly. As we think, so it manifests.
Sometimes our perspective shifts because of a change in our life circumstances. But it is not the circumstances that change us necessarily, but our response to them. Let’s say you lost your job because you were always coming in late. You can respond to that event in at least two ways: you either vow to become a more punctual person because you don’t want to be fired again for tardiness or you can complain and moan about how unlucky you are and choose not to take responsibility for your actions.
In the first scenario, there is a positive shift in perspective and behavior. Being late to work is a problem that has consequences. You learn to take responsibility, realize you are not immune to adversity and you raise the level of self-awareness with which you operate in life. In the second scenario, you have indulged in self-pity and have left little room for personal growth; you have shifted responsibility away from yourself and there is zero accountability or shift in awareness. You can bet that lesson on punctuality will reappear in your life again, until you heed it. Such is the nature of life—if you don’t learn a life lesson, it re-appears in your life more dramatically each time until you get it. Isn’t it so worth it for us to get on with the business of learning and growing from life’s challenges? Amen!
Finally, our shifts in perspective can occur because of our interactions with others. The truth is, we truly are interconnected with every other person we interact with. Our co-workers, our neighbors, the business people in our community, our family and friends all give and receive “energy” from us. If we are surrounded by people who are optimistic, energetic, hopeful, honest, forgiving, loving, etc. it can’t help but rub off on us. Our wholesome perspective of the world and the people in it is progressively reinforced. We believe that people are basically good because that is what is mirrored for us. We embrace higher and higher levels of the earth’s benevolence. Unfortunately, the converse is also true.
A shift in perspective takes time, but it is cumulative. If you find yourself trapped in negative thinking or circumstances, examine 1) your core beliefs about people and life, 2) your response to life events, and 3) your interactions with the people around you. I promise you that if you are honest with yourself, you will find new, healthier ways to experience the world around you.
Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.