I 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?
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.