“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.”
So much of your circumstance depends on your perceptions. Everything we feel, see or sense is a product of our perceptions. How you view a situation determines the resolution of the situation. What we have a tough time with is the apparent difficulty of shifting long held perceptions that we have held maybe even for our entire lives. I say “apparent” because this too is a perception. It is only difficult because we perceive that it should be.
When I worked for an office supply store, we had monthly storewide meetings. Invariably, there was always a new procedure introduced. For the sake of simplicity, I will divide the staff into three groups (discounting management). The first group openly criticized the new procedure. The second would enthusiastically embrace the change, and the third just watched the other two. So the second group would try to implement the new procedure, the first group would obstinately go about doing things the way they were done before the change. The third would go along with whatever those around them were doing. Nine out of ten times, the new procedure would fail and group three would say, “We knew it wouldn’t work.” And each month group three was just a little larger. More and more people’s perceptions eased into “Why rock the boat?”
Once we are in that frame of mind, any sort of meaningful change becomes very difficult. What many of us don’t realize is that if you start looking at things in a new way, then things will begin to change around you. In the words of Dr. Wayne Dyer:
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
I, personally, have gone through this. Once I figured out that my dwelling on the sad was creating this vicious circle of depression and bringing it into fruition, I stopped focusing on all of the sadness and injustice and started working to find the good in people and things. I worked to see the good in the difficult. I’m not saying that it’s miraculously easy. It isn’t. But it is far from impossible.
I am one of a growing number of people who are waking up to a perception of endless opportunities. You can see us everywhere, irritating people by pointing to silver linings in every raincloud; and inspiring countless others by seeing opportunities that they hadn’t considered.
Sometimes changing a thought process is uncomplicated. For example, I decided one morning to turn one street early on my way to work and discovered a beautiful, peaceful neighborhood a mere two hundred yards from the busy, commercial thoroughfare. I realized a simple sidestep could lead to an entirely different atmosphere. It also could be simply a decision that you are tired of being angry, sad or stressed all the time. Not one of us on this planet is “locked” into our circumstances. It can seem that way, such as in the retail analogy above. But there is always a choice. If enough people realize that they don’t have to be miserable, then things all over begin to look beautiful, fulfilling and prosperous, and then that is what they become. If group three had leaned just a little towards group two, then the new procedure would have been a success. It’s the same in every social circumstance. If your thoughts are focused on love, happiness and success, then love, happiness and success will surround you. If the thoughts of your friends and family are also thus focused, then love, happiness and success will surround you all. Onward and outward this circle goes.
The benefits to being able to shift your perceptions are numerous. Shifting allows you reach the stars, alleviate stress and worry, tap into life’s bounty and change the things in your life that do you a disservice. While I can’t and won’t tell you precisely how to change your perceptions, I do have some time-tested suggestions:
- Inhale Positivity. Taking deep breaths relaxes you and improves circulation. When you are having a tough time, taking a deep breath can give you an extra second or two to think, all while giving your brain much needed oxygen. Focus on inhaling positive thoughts and exhaling negative thoughts.
- Go one step further and meditate. This takes some time to learn, but is worth the effort. You can look at your situation from different angles. Do this enough and you’re bound to find silver linings.
- Say “Thank You”. Expressing gratitude is like slathering butter on a nice, warm hunk of bread. It coats your world in lush happiness. It makes you happy and it makes those you thank happy.
- Write. Don’t Talk, write. Recent Studies have found that people feel better after writing about bad moods rather than talking about them. It helps to put things into perspective and keeps things clearer.
- Mind your words and thoughts. One handy practice that I have incorporated into my life is before I say something; I pretend I’m saying it to my reflection. If I wouldn’t like what I just said, chances are the person I’m talking to wouldn’t either. It helps you say things in a way that keep negative feelings from clouding the issue.
- Look at things in a different way. That dog barking, that jubilant high-pitched-loud yelling from children. You could allow it to irritate you or choose to allow them their expression. Pick your battles. Bark back at the dog, play for a moment with the children. Maybe that moment of fun will help you have a nicer day.
Just practice seeing things in a new light, you might just surprise yourself. Everything gets easier with practice. You will notice that things start to change around you. Pieces that didn’t fit will either fit into your new picture or new pieces will come into your existing picture. Literally, it is all up to you.