Equal Opportunity Dreamer:
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that, social distancing is a luxury only a few of us can afford. Millions of day laborers, refugees, hospital workers, grocery shelf stockers have to wake up each day and put themselves in the scary predicament of making a living in this dangerous situation. Such is life for most of us, where 47% of Americans don’t have the funds for a $400 cash emergency.
The point is to not undermine what you’re going through, after all each one of us feels like our personal problems mean the end of the world. Many are facing eviction, many don’t know where their next meal will come from. There are countries in the world where if you’re politically incorrect, you will become a twitter trend or if you’re unlucky to live under an authoritarian regime, it can mean an untimely and violent end to your life.
Which brings us to the two ways we can live life. We can continue to suffer or look for things in our life for which we’re grateful for. Covid or not, perspective helps greatly in life.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff:
Even if we can remember how lucky we are and how grateful we must be, sometimes, taking perspective is difficult. Those of us who’ve difficult childhoods, are facing challenging circumstances or those who have ongoing mental health conditions can’t fully relate to other people’s perspectives. And it’s understandable.
But, the point here is about how we self-sabotage ourselves on a daily basis. Let’s take the example of our own feelings. Your friend of 10 years has stopped talking to you. And you feel terribly sad about the whole thing.
Instead of being impulsive, frustrated and irritable about the situation, let’s take a step back and recalibrate. Let’s approach this situation from the context of time. Will this matter in 10 months, or in 10 years? Better yet, hasn’t this dissolution of a friendship mean it has freed up your time to interact with new people and bring in a change of perspective in your company?
Taking a Perspective Plunge:
Your car has broken down and you’ve an important meeting to attend to. Time is of the essence. Why then start telling yourself, “What an old car, why can’t I get anything right, everything bad only happens to me…” and on and on?
Instead, why not mitigate by informing the other party that’s expecting you to know what’s going on on your end. And why not take up this important meeting over the phone and schedule a followup face to face later? Yes, a bad thing has happened, but there are 10’s of thousands of good things that have also happened for this meeting to happen in the first place. Isn’t it?
And now, let’s go even further. If this car breakdown happened to the other person, wouldn’t you be kind enough to give them the benefit of doubt? Wouldn’t you do your best to make the other person feel less bad and overwhelmed about not being able to meet you on time?
Embrace The Complete Reality:
Sometimes in the pursuit of our long term goals, and the obstacles we face while striving for them, we forget that there are still many things that are working out in our favor. For example, you might feel like your boss is disconnected from his team and doesn’t care about how you feel. That might be his or her reason to reject a piece of project work you have submitted.
But, from his or her perspective, you might also be only looking a partial picture of the roles and responsibilities of your boss and all the things he or she’s juggling. In such times, communication and honest feedback help both parties to appreciate each other’s reality.
Cultivate Cognitive and Emotional Empathy:
Empathy is how we treat absolute strangers. It is our ability to put ourselves in the situations that others are going through. Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand another person’s perspective. Emotional empathy is the ability to feel what someone else feels.
When we communicate face to face with others, the mirror neurons in our brains help us deal with the other person’s facial expressions and cues that their body is sending. As our brain interprets this data, our levels of dopamine rise when we hear something nice in what they’re relaying to us. Similarly, there is a spike in the stress hormone, cortisol, when we hear about trauma related events.
This is how we connect. This is how we build out social currency, but being understanding and diplomatic about others emotions and feelings. And this is how we find common ground, create rapport and build social networks in real life.
Get Out Of The Way:
Covid is making us all spend a little too much time with our family, and that too stuck at home. If you find yourself as parent worried about how your kids are spending their online time, perspective helps.
Just as much as you’re worrying about taking care of them, children are equally anxious about not letting their parents down. So voice your ideas and ask them their opinions and how we can all continue living sanely under one roof until this is over.
If mindfulness brings your anxiety, and fear levels down, for your child it might be hanging out on Discord with his friends for an hour. Whatever it is, understanding the alternative angle helps in such cases of trust and expectations.
Be Open To Possibilities:
When you end up with unfavorable outcomes, take a step back to think. How will you feel about it two weeks from now? Just, don’t over think. Most of the time, the reason why you’ve been fired from your job might not have anything to do with you as a person at all. And just because you failed at something, doesn’t mean your life is a failure.
So, let’s look at that dreaded one-to-one meeting with the boss as an opportunity for feedback and personal growth. Let’s spin any unwanted outcome and think in the context of the bigger picture. Let’s be open to discovery and curiosity and not shut us down with only one way at looking at our circumstances.
How else can we approach life with its uncertainty and upheavals? Every bad outcome is a lesson learnt. After all, everything will work out and be OK in the end.
Adopt Flexible Thinking and Mental Agility:
The art of mental flexibility allows us to reexamine our beliefs and thoughts so we can arrive at different conclusions. You can still be the same you, but have a different perspective on things that unfold around you.
Mental agility gives us an opportunity to see mistakes as opportunities for growth. The underlying skill that enables us to think differently is a deep sense of self awareness. So, start the new year with revisiting your existing emotions, beliefs and your thoughts.
How can you keep up with fashion, styles and trends? It’s a constant struggle right? But attitude? Oh, that never goes out of style! With the right attitude you’re never one season out of step.
A positive frame of mind – the right attitude gives us possibilities that can’t be thought of when we’re second guessing our every move. In the face of obstacles the right attitude helps you stay focused and motivated. It helps us act on our dreams.
Expand Your Perspective:
Here’s the thing. Based on what we’ve learnt here, the perspective trait can allow us to put ourselves in other’s shoes to help understand where they’re coming from.
Remembering that we naturally tend to be overly focused on ourselves and our narratives while failing to amply account for other people’s perspectives helps. When we make an effort to bridge our perspectives with others, we can engage with them in complete clarity and trust.
And it helps to understand that someone’s constant worry might not be comprehensible to others who don’t live that life. It can give us the full truth about any situation we are in, and allow us to be clear about our strengths and our shortcomings. After all, nothing is a crisis unless we ourselves make it out to be. And, let’s not forget those who aren’t as lucky or privileged as us.