8 Ways To Happiness: Perspective
"One of the things that makes happy people special is their unique answer to the classic question: Is the glass half full or half empty? Their answers are what set them apart from the rest of us. Happy people will say the glass is both half empty AND half full. Life is about coming to terms with both perceptions of the glass."
- Rick Foster, How We Choose To Be Happy
8) Expand Your Perspective
Is the world cruel or kind? Filled with pain or joy? Is it hostile or friendly? Brutal or gentle? Is it filled with misery or hope? Which is it?
It is all those things. This world contains all perspectives and evaluations. Expanding your perspective isn't about becoming blind to the cruelty, it's choosing a perspective that is mostly likely to help you create the life you want, one that encourages happiness and joy.
Neither optimism nor pessimism are the more correct or accurate view of life. Neither is more realistic than the other. Both are true. If you're one of the many pessimists I've talked to about this, understand, your perspective is no more realistic than optimism. Cold is no more true than hot. Dry isn't more realistic than wet. They both exist.
"The eye sees what it brings to seeing."
But you have a decision to make. Which are you going to focus on? Which are you going to pay the most attention? Which perspective are you going to see in it's totality? Which perspective are you going to make the most dominant?
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I don't think it's such a wild claim to say an optimistic perspective is more encouraging of happiness than pessimism. What you look for, you will find. If you look for hatred in the world, you will find it. If you look for love in the world, you will find it.
You can see a perfect example of this is our news media. They've found that negative news gets better ratings than positive. The more dramatic and repugnant, the better. (If it bleeds, it leads.) So that's what they focus on and look for. If you watch the news on a regular basis you might start to think that this world is filled with nothing but hostile, angry, hateful, dishonest and cruel people. It's a warped perspective. Where are the stories about all the loving, happy, gentle, honest and sweet people out there? Obviously they're out there, but where are the stories?
If our goal is to be "realistic" then you would need to see all sides. I would highly recommend turning off the news for a week or two. Don't worry, if anything important happens, there's lots of people willing (and wanting) to keep you updated.
When you change your perspective, you change your experience of the world. It's all a matter of intention. Which perspective do you intend to focus on? We're not talking about some Pollyanna view where you deny all sadness and pain. Which are you going to LOOK FOR? Which are you going to emphasize?
The optimism perspective allows you to...
- Turn disadvantages into advantages.
- See the beauty in people.
- Experience more appreciation and love.
- Feel more hopeful.
Turning A Disadvantage Into An Advantage
Sometimes a little shift in perspective is all it takes to turn a disadvantage into an opportunity. When we feel closed in and helpless, it's not because of some permanent external state, but from a limited perspective. This world we live in can not exist without it's opposite. You can't have cold with out hot. You can't have restriction without opportunity.
Let me give you a concrete example of what I mean. A while back I started a new job across town. It was a long drive, about 45 minutes and I loathed it. It was boring, cost me time and gas money, and I had to do it every day, twice (to and from the job)! What possible advantage or opportunity was there in this situation? I really enjoyed the job but I couldn't think of how to enjoy the long drive or make it an opportunity.
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
- Albert Einstein
Then one day it hit me. Hey! My car has a tape player. I love listening to personal growth tapes, and normally, I can't find the time to listen to them at home. Eureka! The time spent in the car became MY time, where I could relax, think, and improve my life. When I ran out of tapes, I bought new ones which I then looked forward to enjoying. My car became a rolling university. I began to look forward to my drive to and from work. It was one of the pluses of the day.
Do you think I would have created this opportunity if I wasn't looking for it? If I hadn't looked for and found this solution, it's very likely that I would have quit a job I enjoyed.
From what I've experienced with disadvantage and opportunity, it seems that it's not a matter of IF the opportunity or advantage is out there, but simply a matter of SEEING it. You can only see it if you expand your perspective. When you make a decision that you will find the good in this world, it expands your vision to see opportunities that were out of sight when you were looking at the hopelessness.
Let give you one more example of turning a disadvantage into an advantage when I had to deal with a difficult boss.
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Staff, H. (2008, December 13). 8 Ways To Happiness: Perspective, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/relationships/creating-relationships/8-ways-to-happiness-perspective