Perspective can be a very powerful thing when trying to control our feelings about something. By changing the part of the experience that we focus on, we can change the way we feel about that experience.
The Easy Example…
I was very fortunate to have a seven week honeymoon in the south Pacific. We did a lot of amazing things on our trip. We swam with dolphins, hiked up a glacier, and flew to the top of a mountain. Yet, the story that I remember best was being on an island in Fiji with no money. We had to leave Australia early due to flooding. Our initial flight to Fiji was cancelled, so we booked a different flight. The credit from our cancelled flight would not be processed for a week.
When we arrived in Fiji, we headed straight to an island resort for New Years. At this point we did not realize we had no money. When we went to take some cash out at the ferry, we got the dreaded ‘insufficient funds’. At the time, it was immediate panic. We were headed to the island resort for three days with enough cash left for about one meal. It would be okay though. We planned to go online when we got there, shift some money to accessible accounts, and get some more cash. Except, upon arrival, we were informed that there was no ATM on the island. Shit.
We decided that this was not going to bring us down. We were on a beautiful tropical island after all. So we went to the grocery store and bought a loaf of bread and a some peanut butter. For three days that’s what we ate. I can say with all sincerity, they were the best peanut butter sandwiches I have ever had.
The point is that this could have been a black spot on a once in a lifetime trip. However, taking a moment to look at it from a different perspective made it one of the brightest moments that we had.
The Tougher One…
As great as the seven week honeymoon was, my marriage did not survive. While there was certainly a sad time, I have come to be very happy with my new life. I will not get into the details of the why at this point. Just how I changed my perspective to view it in a positive light.
The initial feelings when it was apparent that my marriage was coming to an end were of loss and despair. We had everything, two beautiful children, a nice house, and good careers. At the time, it seemed like everything good in my life was going away. There were months of having a knot in my stomach that would not go away. How could anything ever be good again?
I spent a lot of time looking very deep inside myself asking what I had done wrong. It was not easy to look internally at the things I was not happy about with myself. However, when I really began looking and making the effort to grow, I had this amazing feeling of happiness. Ultimately, we still decided to end our marriage, but now I was not looking at it as a bad thing, but as a way to grow to be happier with myself. If I can be happy with myself, I will be a better father to my children, a better ex-husband to the mother of my children (probably better than I was at being a husband), and a better friend to the people I care about.
While a marriage ending is a sad thing, looking at it from another perspective allowed me to become a better person for the people I care about. That is a very positive thing and that is the viewpoint I choose to take.
Above are two examples of how looking at something from another viewpoint can change how you feel about it. The first one is a bit of a softball, I mean it is not hard to look on the bright side when you are on a tropical island. However, it was important as it was a nice easy one to practice for when the tougher times came. Tough times will definitely come, but if we practice trying to look at the easy ones from a different perspective, the tougher times will not seem quite so hard.