Pick a topic. Any topic.
No matter what it topic we’re talking about, everyone will have their own opinion on it.
We all have our own perspectives, which isn’t a bad thing.
A study referenced in this Forbes article related diversity and different opinions or points of view as being beneficial to our workplace. I think it’s safe to say this evidence can be transferred to society, where diversity in our perspectives offers the opportunity for us to learn and grow as individuals.
Every day, we meet and interact with people who have different views than we do. We spend our time discussing or debating different subjects, trying to prove each other wrong or convince one another that our point of view is the right one.
Our life experiences have helped us to form our own perspectives on every aspect — from the minute to the major — of our life. Every topic comes with a myriad of views, different opinions, different perspectives.
It could be anything.
Let’s start with an easy one: money.
The way we see it
The subject of money causes some people I know to worry.
It stresses them out or makes them uneasy. It represents debt, not-enough-income, an almost always empty bank account, and savings that won’t carry them through a crisis let alone for one lasting more than a couple of months – illness, losing a job, personal crisis.
For them, money is always a negative topic.
For others, money is a topic they love to talk about. It represents wealth, success, happiness, choices, a future plan in the making and being ‘ahead of the game’ They latch onto all the positive virtues of money.
Money has very different meanings for everyone.
The world we live in
Now let’s take a quick look at the subject of love.
For a person who grew up spending a lot of quality time with their parents or siblings, experiencing laughter, fun, a solid sense of security and they also managed to maintain a strong bond with their family as a whole – love could be a positive subject. If they’re a hopeless romantic who has spent many years in close, thriving relationships – the idea of love is one that they embrace closely and will likely be one of their core values.
But for someone who comes from a broken family or who has suffered emotional abuse, love may evoke anything but positive feelings. Unless they are a pure optimist, it’s likely that their view of love has been skewed by their past experiences and it can colour their view of the future too.
While some of us never think about love, others depend on it. There is a whole spectrum on how everyone views the subject, and not one of those views is the ‘right one’.
Actually, there’s an endless spectrum on how we view every aspect of our lives. Every single one. Where we choose to sit on the spectrum is influenced by how we were raised, our relationships, our careers, our hobbies, and what we read or watch or listen to. We’re also influenced by the people we choose to spend our time with.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
All of these things influence our thoughts, our actions, our experiences, and ultimately – what lens we choose to see our world through.
The lens we look through
Although there are many different filters we can choose from, many of us look at life through one lens – the one that we have become comfortable with. You know, the one we’ve become very familiar with and when we’re presented with the idea of choosing another point of view, the very thought t can cause us to feel angst and discomfort.
Once upon a time, I had a client going through a difficult divorce. The stress was keeping her up at night and affecting her throughout the day. She found the constant reminders of the loss of her relationship at home, at work, and even when she was spending quality time with her kids exhausting, which lead to feelings of being depressed and lonely.
She believed that the divorce was a burden that was placed upon her, and the anger that came with that point of view affected her entire life. The woman I once knew – happy, exuberant, ready for anything – had disappeared. She continued to spiral into the negativity of how the divorce was impacting her life and was unable to see how anything positive could ever arise from this experience. This was beyond a grieving process.
Her perspective on life had changed.
Her marriage failed, and she felt like her life had fallen apart. Even though she was well respected in her job, enjoyed living in a nice home, had a great tribe and many other great things in her life – things she used to enjoy and take pride in — she no longer saw the world through a lens that represented joy, happiness in marriage, family, security, or a sense of belonging. According to her, that lens had been shattered with the divorce.
How do we shift our perspective?
Life is constantly changing.
When things don’t go our way, it’s easy for our mind to spin out of control or for us to jump to conclusions. We get so stuck in our routines and our usual views of the world, that we forget to be objective. In fact, positive or negative, our minds will find evidence to support our position — we justify our point of view with past experiences, news reals or we borrow other’s experiences and stories to make our own true.
What if we take a step back and readjust our lens – our focus – our perspective? What if we switch the way we view certain situations that upset or frighten us, or challenge who we are?
What if we realize that there is another way?
Let’s go back to our example of money. Many successful entrepreneurs and business leaders grew up poor, in a family that struggled to make ends meet. Lots of people who cherish their religion, never used to worship anything. There are also plenty of people who have suffered divorces and lost love – who now love themselves, their life and their partner more than they’ve ever loved anything else before.
We can free ourselves from situations that no longer serve us or don’t agree with our hopes and dreams. When we open our mind up to different possibilities and expand our perception, we can shift the way we think and change our life to serve us better.
For my client, the key was remembering that her divorce was not a punishment. The relationship between her and her now ex-husband wasn’t working and ending it was a healthy choice for everyone involved. Sure, it was hard to go through, but once she got through all the grieving, legalities, and frustrating moments, she was able to leave the divorce behind and had a new sense of clarity to know what she truly wanted from her next relationship and what she would no longer settle for.
She realized that she had control to choose her lens and what she wanted to focus on.
Allowing a shift on the spectrum of changing the filters we use to see our world through helps us to let go and accept something new.
This is how we change our life.
Make a change. Practice change.
Next time you go to a yoga class, try sitting in a different spot. When you go to sleep tonight, lay on the other side of the bed or turn the bed around. Rearrange your office tomorrow, sit at a different table in your favourite restaurant or even a different chair at your next meeting.
Notice the change in scenery?
The slightest changes can have a significant impact on our surroundings; on our life. It just depends on what we’re willing to change – what we’re okay with letting go of and what else we’re open to embracing.
We have to be open to seeing the world through a different lens than we’re used to. It’s like when a photographer changes their camera lens. Or, choosing from the different filter options on your Instagram account.
There are many different ways to look at your life. You can practice choosing or even just borrowing several lenses to experiment on how they affect you and the world you see. For example, try imagining that money really does go on trees and is easily accessible to you if you want it. Or, maybe open your mind up to the possibility that love really is in the air, wherever you go. It’s not a bad idea to broaden your horizons, even if just for a moment, just to see what a different perspective might offer you.
In the end, you get to decide which is best one for you.
Imagine that you’re looking at your life through a telescope. With the circumstances in front of you, picture what might happen if you shifted your perspective ever so slightly. Use your imagination, create different scenarios, and play out different possibilities. When you discover one that gets you really excited, figure out what lens you need to start looking through to make that joyful dream come true.
We’ve all chosen to perceive our life a certain way, and we have the ability to change that perception whenever we want.
Have fun with it and seek out new views often. This is your life, and you are in control of choosing how you want it to be. Enjoy it!
I’m Janice Otremba, a professional speaker, facilitator and coach who specializes in stress management, health and wellness, personal growth and life balance. Let’s kick your butt into gear with simple, sound advice for beating burnout and powering up your happy. Book a free 15-minute consultation call with me to get started!
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net