Time to See What Shifting Perspectives Can Do for You

pocket watch resting in autumn leavesI was counting down the days until daylight saving time ended for a few weeks before it actually happened. Waking up in complete darkness was torture for me. I felt like I was being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night, and for weeks I was a disaster in the morning. And then the end of daylight saving time hit and I felt instant relief! I woke up with the first break of sunlight, I felt rested, and I no longer dreaded mornings. “I can get through the darkness of winter,” I thought to myself.

When I changed my clocks, I shifted my whole perspective. Nothing else changed. I didn’t win the lottery, I didn’t go on vacation, and my mortgage wasn’t suddenly paid off. My reality was exactly the same. But the one small action of turning the clocks back by one hour shifted my perception. As a result, my behaviors and interactions with my reality drastically changed.

Our perceptions significantly influence our behaviors. How we see the world, people, and relationships dictates how we interact with them. When a person cuts us off in traffic, it is easy to get angry and upset. We can create an entire story about the driver based on this one action. They must be careless or entitled and think of no one other than themselves. But what if we shifted our perspective to consider other options?

Perhaps they received a phone call from their child’s school that there was a fight. Or maybe they just left a doctor’s appointment and learned that they need additional testing to determine if they have cancer. Considering other possibilities for the driver’s behavior does not change the fact they cut us off on the road. The reality remains the same, but our shifted perspective allows our reaction and behavior to drastically change.

As the holidays approach, there is an increase in depression and anxiety for many people. There are situational factors such as traffic, long lines, and frenzied shopping that contribute to this. There are also familial and relationship issues that play a role. Struggles within partnerships, feuding families, managing addictions, and grief for those who are deceased make this time of year incredibly challenging.

But what if you metaphorically changed your clock back one hour? What if a small change in your perspective would make a large difference in your experience of your reality?

Instead of the anxiety, pressures, and expectations, what if you saw the twinkling lights, kindnesses of strangers, and silliness of family gatherings? Instead of being in the middle of a family argument or outburst, what if you involved yourself only in outings and gatherings that you were sure to enjoy? What if your shifted perspective meant spending time with family for as long as you could enjoy their company? Rather than commit to an entire evening or weekend or week of holiday festivities, what if you agreed to be with your family for as long as you can be kind to them? One enjoyable hour with family, friends, or co-workers during the holiday season is more precious than hours or days of interactions that you regret and cannot wait to end.

It may seem simple to think that shifting our perspective will suddenly change our interactions. Rather, it is a small step that allows us to focus our attention on what we decide is important. Regular and daily practice is necessary to make this shifted perspective long-lasting.

What kind of shifted perspective do you need to make to have a more enjoyable life?

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  • Glynnis

    November 20th, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Something that I did a few years ago was to really look at how I viewed the world in general and made the effort to look more at what I can do for others instead of always looking at what they have/ haven’t done or are going to do for me. that one little flip in how I see my relationships with other people, It has been amazing just how much of a change that this has brought to how I see the entire world. I will admit that this isn’t always easy, because like anyone else I too want to get ahead and I want the help of others to get there. But just knowing that I can do something small and make a profound difference to someone else has also made a profound difference to me too.

  • melody

    November 21st, 2013 at 5:49 AM

    aahh the change in perspective… so much easier to talk about doing than to actually put that plan into action

  • Tonya Ladipo

    November 21st, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    It is amazing the impact of changing your perception and perspective! You certainly can’t change others but you can make a difference for yourself.

  • Zinnia

    November 22nd, 2013 at 4:44 AM

    I am very sure that changing the way we think about certain things could be a vast improvement for many of us. But don’t you think that most of us have this tendency to think that we are the ones who are right and that everything would be better if only everyone else would change theirs?

  • Tonya Ladipo

    November 22nd, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    Yes we do! It’s natural to think of your own opinion (and to think that it’s right!) first. After your first thought (your own) you can intentionally consider other perspectives. It does take a conscious effort though.

  • Luci Dabney

    November 27th, 2013 at 6:30 AM

    Years ago I read a perspective shifting article in Oprah’s magazine. The writer asserted one way of dealing with inevitable disappointments in relationships was to assume that the person was doing the best that they could. As you can imagine, this isn’t easy, but with continued practice I have become less frustrated with the people in my life. Once after a disappointing raise I told my supervisor, given the high quality and quantity of my work effort, I assumed management had taken that into account and was giving me the best raise financially possible. A few days later…I got a bigger raise.

  • Doreen

    November 29th, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    I want to do this, I need to do this, but I sometimes feel like an old curmudgeon (I’m not that old!) because I feel like I am so stuck in my ways that it is impossible to change my ways.

    I like to think that I am way more flexible and fluid then what I know that I am in real life, but then something new comes along and there comes that realization once again that no, I’m not ready or willing to change at all. It’s as if I hit this wall within myself and it becomes this obstacle that my mind just can’t wrap itself around.

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