“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.”
I was recently unloading to my Dad about a predicament I had found myself in. On and on I went, verbally spewing what had been spinning silently in my mind for weeks now, and my Dad, listened intently to every word. When I was finished, per the usual, I looked to him for an answer.
He surprised me with a question, “Do you remember when you moved to Denver?”
“Oh God…” I cringed.
How could I remove that stain from my mind? I had moved into a shady, dark, old apartment, because it was the only one I could afford. I had no job, no income, no plan. And in a matter of months I believe I consumed more oatmeal than many people consume in their lifetime because I couldn’t afford much else. It was, without a doubt, a low point in my life. Whenever I think of this time it’s just dark to me. Financially, emotionally, and professionally….it was just dark.
I looked at my Dad. Why would he even bring this up?
“So now….” he began, “Think about that. And think about where you were at, and where you are at now. Think about the worries that consumed you then… and what is worrying you now.”
Wow. Suddenly my stressful situation somehow didn’t seem as stressful. My current dilemma was deciding on a career move, choosing simply to go down one road or another. Compared to what I worried about years prior, such as how I was going to come up with rent and how I was going to manage to buy food for the next week…my problems as of right now seemed… a little lighter.
My Dad continued, “You’ve got two options being offered here, and all that is required of you, is a decision. YOU get to decide which one you would like better. Seems to me this isn’t a problem, but an opportunity. Leah, this is not a bad situation. What a wonderful thing to be worried about.”
There it was. He had somehow managed to do it again. You see, the thing about my Dad is he has this superhero-like ability to turn any situation around. And I’m not talking about that naïve attitude of “my daddy can make any situation wonderful and I go to him because he will tell me what I want to hear,” sort of thing here. I mean, he truly lives his life this way. I always feel better after discussing things with him because he shifts my perspective, and suddenly my problems are morphed into opportunities. I go from being a tightly wound stress ball, to relaxing and looking at the situation with an entirely new mood.
My Dad doesn’t just do this for my sake, to save his darling daughter from the agony of life. No, no, no. He’s not going to sugar coat situations for me for the sole purpose of me “feeling better.” He genuinely views situations, no matter how ugly or hard or tricky they may be, through the best perspective possible. Through my Dads eyes, difficult decisions somehow become vibrant opportunities. Complicated situations become learning experiences. Characteristics that most people are quick to oust, that are viewed as bizarre and strange, my Dad interprets as unique and fun. He is the last to pass judgment and the first to see the beauty hidden within a person OR situation. My Dad lives by consistently maintaining the best perspective and it shows through his quality of life. And the older I get, the more I realize this trait truly is, nothing short of a superhero-like power.
For years I would meet people similar to my Dad, and assume that their good mood was a result of the amazing lives they had. I thought somehow that they were born into a life paved with a golden road and given all sorts of glorious things to make them happy. I know how ridiculous this seems, but I lived with this belief for years. I felt that the circumstances in their lives were beyond exceptional, and therefore they had such a wonderful mood and outlook. It took me years to understand that I’ve had it backwards this entire time. I now see that these people, have a beyond exceptional perspective, and therefore their lives are what they are. That perspective is the foundation of life, not circumstances. That the quality of life is not determined by circumstances but by perspective.
I do not believe positive perspective is something that is innate in all of us. As morbid and blunt as that may sound, I really do not. For the majority of people, I believe having a great outlook isn’t, in fact, something that comes naturally, but is a trait to be learned, and strengthened through practice. There might exist those who naturally see the “good” in things, but I feel it’s rather difficult for many, and it that it is truly put to the test when things are hard.
The human mind is wired for survival, therefore when a troublesome issue arises, the brain goes into a fight or flight mode and can get carried away rather quickly. It’s a natural human response, it’s preparation for a possible bad situation coming our way. We’ve all been there. Some negative, albeit minute, occurrence takes place, and within a matter of minutes our minds have traveled to the worst possible outcome. From there we believe this to be true. We cement it into our minds and label it as “bad.” Our perspective is stained, dampened, suddenly morphed into a big dark cloud. I think this is where we need to step in, mechanically go inside our minds and say STOP before the fear takes control. We must control our perspective before it controls us.
We must train ourselves to see the good instead of the bad. In people. In situations. In ourselves. What really, do we have to lose? Nothing. In fact, we have only to gain. To gain new perspective, to gain a silver lining in a dark situation. To gain knowledge. To gain an entirely new attitude. I’m not saying that the world needs to around painting sunshine rays and roses over every problematic situation. Let’s get real: sometimes life can be a bitch. She can throw you a curveball when you least expect it. And it is not easy during these times to maintain a happy-go-lucky outlook. But I promise you, that it is during these times, when you probably least want to, that if you try and tweak your perception of whatever difficult situation you might be going through, this is when enormous change occurs. It’s when growth occurs. And it’s with these tiny moments, that you check yourself and your perspective, that your quality of life enhances. Even a slight change in how you perceive something can make differences larger than you can even comprehend.
So, next time you are going through something that has you shaken, and all sorts of messy inside, try taking a step backwards and looking at the situation differently. Your perception controls so much more than you realize, and the wonderful thing is, my friend, that YOU control your perception.