Monday, October 3, 2016

Perspective Changes Everything

I met with one of my closest friends Saturday morning for a tea. As always we talked for hours, about everything and nothing. About big things and little things. Goals, dreams, ideas, plans and updates. We talked about the little mundane things in our lives and the big conversations that can only happen in a space of love and trust. And as always, I walked away a more enriched human being from her company and wisdom.

One thing we talked about was perspective and how powerful it is and can be for changing relationships, shifting your direction in life or even just in contribution to your overall happiness.

What you focus on is what grows in your life. If you focus on the negative more often than not, then what you'll end up doing is not only seeing the negative around you but only opening yourself up to those experiences. You will look at things around you and find the downside of all of them to reinforce your belief that misery prevails.

On the other hand, if you are able to find the positive in everything (or at least willing to try really hard), you will be open to that energy, allowing in more opportunities for learning and joy. You will feel happier and lighter, not so weighed down in dissatisfaction. You will notice more and more positive things, events and people being drawn into your life.

In the field of Psychology, this is known as a "self fulfilling prophecy," or the "Pygmalion Effect." We set up an expectation, whether intentional or not. Then we align our behaviour, beliefs and attitudes with that expectation and continue doing so until we've found that expectation filled.
What I mean by this is that if you begin your day deciding it's going to suck, chances are it WILL suck.

For example, you wake up in the morning at your regular time but had gone to bed with the intention of waking earlier to get some me-time in. You wake up already annoyed that you failed Day 1 into your intention and decide you blew it. Your day is going to suck, you're such a failure, you just aren't a motivated enough person and now the whole day is ruined because you didn't get an hour of quality alone time under your belt. You fly out of bed, hit your knee on your side table, reach for a towel to find the cupboard empty of clean towels, and hop into a shower that lacks hot water. You curse as you dry off with a smelly towel from the dirty laundry pile and scowl at the piles of clothes that need to be washed. You curse your spouse for not helping out with the laundry, and in the process, step on a hard toy that causes you to curse your children for being slobs. You make a mental note to yell at them when they wake up and wonder why you even buy toys for them in the first place, when all they do is leave them lying around, waiting to be broken. Your daughter enters the room during this thought, and you bark at her for the toy, and rant for a whole minute about her inability to clean up after herself. Tears form in her eyes as she hasn't even opened her mouth before being reprimanded.

You can probably play in your head how the rest of the day goes. Much the same stuff shrouded in different forms.

Let's take the same example.

You wake up in the morning at your regular time but had gone to bed with the intention of waking earlier to get some me-time in. You open your eyes and think to yourself that your body must have needed extra sleep. You stretch out in bed as you find gratitude for a day full of possibility. You climb out of bed slowly, pulling the blankets back over on your way out, smiling at how quickly you can make your bed look neat and tidy. You wander to the bathroom and, upon noticing the lack of clean towels, throw a load in the laundry down the hall to get it started. You decide you don't have the time to get a shower in without racing frantically so you throw some dry shampoo in your hair and call it a day. As you wander down the hall toward the kitchen, your daughter finds you, and you greet her with a smile and a "good morning." She smiles and embraces you as you head to the kitchen together.

What's different between these two scenarios?

1. Victim versus Empowered
Typically when people see the downside of everything, and choose only to focus on the negative, they often play the victim role in life. They blame others for what's going on in their life. They are drawn to complaining and blaming, without any intention of learning, growing or fixing the situation. Rather than feeling empowered that they have choices in their life, they hold on to the belief that bad things just happen to them and there's no way out (as they point their finger at anyone in sight, finding a reason to blame him or her)

2. Finding fault verses finding lessons
In any situation that causes discomfort, there is always at least one lesson to be learned, though typically many once you begin peeling back the layers of discomfort. In the first scenario, it is clear that blame and fault are found. In the second scenario there are lessons to be learned, such as not racing when you know it's going to just cause anxiety and frustration. When you go through your day, are you looking for lessons or fault?

3. Focus on negative versus focus on positive
In scenario 1, there is a clear focus on the negative. And once you zone in on one negative aspect of anything, other negative ideas and thoughts take the forefront of your vision. A dirty towel leads to frustrations with laundry, which leads to anger with the spouse. The negative thoughts continue to breed and expand, and at some point, they engross you. The only way to break free of that spell is to begin seeing the positive. In anything. In everything.

That sums up our chat from Saturday. Or, at least, 10 minutes of our 3 hour conversation.
Don't you love friends who continually inspire, grow and build you? Those conversations that keep you up at night, excited with ideas and new paradigms that will inevitably create shifts in your life?

Yep, those are the type of people I roll with. And I can find gratitude and positivity within those relationships without effort.

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