In need of a little perspective
The other day I woke up with a super long day ahead of me. I had my scheduled planned out to the minute as I was scheduled to fly down to Florida yesterday for a desperately needed escape from winter.
But then the snowmaggedon forecast was updated – the brunt of the storm would hit in the hours before and after my flight was scheduled to depart. Not to mention I had a long overdue haircut scheduled for that morning. On top of that, I couldn’t find my favorite sunglasses anywhere. I’d need those in Florida. But more importantly, they have sentimental value – I purchased them in Tokyo soon after I arrived, so I’ve now had them for a decade. All of a sudden my morning was thrown off. My mind started spiraling into worry and anxiety.
Shift your Perspective, Shift your Mindset
I went to the gym and tried the local businesses I’d visited the day before to see if I’d left my glasses. No luck. I had a minor moment of panic inside, but told myself they’d turn up. I squeezed in a quick workout then rushed off to teach my yoga class, shooting off a text to my friend asking if I’d left them at her place.
I rushed home for a client call and just before I hopped on, I realized that my anxiety was completely ridiculous. If I could get through cancer, I could certainly handle a little weather. Chemo brain aside, I could track down my sunglasses – there were after all only a couple places they could have wound up.
Rather than panic about the flight, I told myself I could sort this out and get everything done. And if I could book a trip to Brazil and make it happen within 24 hours – visa and Christmas and all – then I could sort out a flight to Florida. I went back to my old mantra: You got this. My friend texted back: the sunglasses were there! Woot!
As soon as I got off the client call, I got on the phone with United. Within minutes, I changed my flight and was all set to fly Thursday morning. I got in touch with my hairdresser – the forecast for the morning looked manageable, and yes he would still be open. Things were falling into place. Then my massage therapist texted me asking if I wanted to squeeze in a massage that night before my trip as we’d not been able to get one in the past couple weeks and my back was crying for help – Yes please! Unexpected bonus that I had time for it now that my flight was pushed back.
Sure enough, yesterday morning the weather held out just long enough for the haircut. Snowmaggedon Bonus – the roads were empty and there was no traffic getting into or out of the city, and I had no trouble finding free street parking on the same block as the salon. I was winning. I got back just as the snow began falling hard. It dumped all afternoon, but by then my hair was done and I was warm and cozy. All I had left to do was organize and pack.
This morning I woke up early to plowed streets, a shoveled walk, and blue skies and sunshine. There was no traffic getting to the airport, and no signs of delay. Aside from a delay from the refreshments truck (yes – our plane was delayed to make sure we were stocked with coffee and pretzels…) the morning went incredibly smoothly considering it was the day after a giant snowstorm. I didn’t even have to take my shoes off going through security.
The Power of Perspective
So as it turned out, things, in a way, worked out even better than I had initially planned. And it struck me that all I had to do was trust that things would fall into place, and magically they did. I went from anxious to trusting, and stressed out to accepting. And all of a sudden the magic began flowing. All it took was a little shift in perspective, and a little faith that I could handle what comes my way.
Perspective is so huge. It was a major lesson from cancer as well – our experiences are truly defined by our perspective. While I certainly had my ‘why me’ moments, as soon as I was diagnosed I was invigorated by my newest mission: survive. My gut told me this was not the end of my story; rather, this was an opportunity for me to shift the narrative and get things in high gear. It was time to get back to the business of living.
While I certainly experienced my ups and downs and major and minor stresses throughout, I maintained my optimistic perspective. I got back in touch with my purpose, my passion, my natural optimism, and my personal power. I would not just survive this thing called cancer, I would thrive.
I decided to make lemonade out lemons and see the silver linings in all of it. I decided to see the opportunity in my moment of crisis. I could easily have wallowed in my misery and the unfairness of it all, but I realized that would do nothing to help the situation. I focused on healing. I focused on me. I focused on the good in it all and maintaining this perspective of gratitude for what is and letting go of what isn’t.
When life hands you those lemons, it isn’t always easy to make the lemonade. But the process of learning how to make it is powerful – it’s like teaching someone to fish. If life always handed us the lemonade from the getgo, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn, heal and grow.
So how do I actually shift my perspective?
Here are a few simple steps I take to gain a little perspective on a situation.
- Breathe. This first strategy is the easiest – just take a few deep breaths and reset. Breathing calms the system and it tames that monkey mind that can all too easily make a mountain out of a molehill.
- Lighten up and laugh! It is very easy to take minor issues a bit too seriously. Finding the humor in a situation – or even an unrelated one! – can immediately brighten our mood and seem to lighten the load. And laughing just makes us feel better!
- Let Go. Sometimes we have to accept that not everything is within our control. Like the weather – even if we have all our ducks in a row, there’s nothing we can do about a snow storm! But we can let go of those ‘best laid plans’ and work around the obstacle to find a new solution. Us humans are excellent at adapting – allow yourself to surrender to the situation and accept what is within your control and, more importantly, what isn’t.
- Place yourself in someone else’s shoes. Shifting perspective can help improve relationships and communications – you see through their lens and understand their perspective. When you understand where they are coming from, it is easier to find compassion and bring meaningful solutions to the table. Depending on the situation, it can also help you cultivate gratitude for your own situation.
- Write down what’s bothering you. Writing helps us get our swirling thoughts down on paper and can help us gain clarity about a situation. The simple act of getting it out may resolve some of the underlying tension, and seeing it on paper may give us a new perspective on the situation – it may not be the mountain that it seemed before. Writing can also help us creatively brainstorm solutions to a given situation.
Perspective shift can take conscious effort, but if the result might be magic, I think it’s worth the effort.
If you have any questions for me or are looking for some guidance in alleviating stress and anxiety and shifting your mindset, feel free to email me email@example.com and we can chat and come up with a personalized game plan to get you on track!