The Power of Perspective in the Pursuit of Happiness
Happiness, and what it means to be happy, is a very subjective thing and therefore different for each of us. As such, the pursuit of happiness tends to be a very unique and personal journey.
If a certain activity or experience makes one person happy it may or may not cause another person to feel the same way, so finding happiness is not as easy as simply doing what others do. We must find what works for us as individuals. This begins with a level of soul searching to figure out what we might individually aspire to do or change in our efforts to achieve a higher level of personal happiness and fulfillment.
Perhaps you elect to Do More hiking, biking or spending more time with your family, or maybe you try to find more time to listen to music, search out new restaurants or just make some time to sit down and read a good book. With a little bit of reflection you will be able to come up with a whole host of things that would make YOU more happy, but as a surprise to no one, finding happiness is not as simple as all that. If it were as simple as coming up with a good plan to be happy, we would all be happy all the time.
“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
- John Lennon
In spite of our best plans to enjoy life and be happy, “Life” can sometimes feel as though it has a different plan for us entirely. A flat tire on the way to work, being stuck in terrible traffic, bad weather, a long term relationship coming to an end, a personal illness etc. etc. Life can, at times, be tough to simply endure let alone be happy in. Therefore, it is not enough to have a good plan to pursue happiness, you must also have a plan for how to deal with life’s unexpected pitfalls, and that is where the power of personal perspective comes into play.
The perspective by which you view those things that “happen” in your life can play a huge role in the level of happiness you are able to attain and for that matter sustain. The perspective we CHOOSE to hold in our life not only dictates how we view or feel about things, but also drives how we go about dealing with them. If we view something as “too big to handle,” it is. If we view things as the “end of the world” serious, it is. If we view something as good, it is, and if we view something as bad, it is.
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
- Henry Ford
There is an old Chinese parable which highlights nicely, the power of personal perspective. It illustrates how we often jump to conclusions about things that happen in life and in our rush to label them as good or bad we often cause ourselves more stress and sadness than we would if we were armed with a more optimistic perspective.
Good Luck…Bad Luck…Who Knows?
Long ago in China, a poor farmer was out in the fields with his son. On that particular day, the farmer’s son had failed to tether their horse properly. As a result, the horse broke loose and ran off into the hills. It was the only horse on the farm, and the farmer could not afford to replace him. However, without a horse he had no means to plow his fields. Upon hearing of the news, the farmer’s neighbors all commiserated with him. “What bad luck,” they said. “Bad luck…Good luck…Who knows?” replied the farmer.
A few days later, the farmer and his son saw a cloud of dust off in the distance and they wondered what was causing it. As it drew closer, they saw their horse returning home…followed by a dozen wild horses. The farmer’s neighbors congratulated him. “What good luck,” they said. “Good luck…Bad luck…Who knows?” replied the farmer.
The next day, the farmer’s son was out breaking in one of the wild horses when he was thrown from the horse and fractured his leg. The farmer’s neighbors commiserated with him because he would no longer have the aid of his son in running his farm. “What bad luck,” they said. “Bad luck…Good luck…Who knows?” replied the farmer.
Not long after, some officers from the Chinese army rode into the small village, drafting all able-bodied young men into service to fight a war in a far away region. The officers came to the farmer’s house and found his son with a broken leg. “We can’t use him,” they said, and so the farmer’s son was spared. The farmer’s neighbors congratulated him. “What good luck,” they said. “Good luck…Bad luck…Who knows?” replied the farmer. - Lao Tzu paraphrased
Lao Tzu’s story reveals that life and the “luck” we experience along the way is fleeting, ever changing, and largely a matter of personal perspective. Therefore, our perspective, or how we choose to view events in our life has a direct effect on our reality and ultimately our happiness.
“In life, never spend more than 10 percent of your time on the problem, and spend at least 90 percent of your time on the solution. Most important, don’t sweat the small stuff… and remember, it’s all small stuff!”
- Tony Robbins
We all have the power to alter our perspective at any time for the better, and in doing so we can actively alter our reality for the better too. We can choose not to be angry…we can choose not to stress…we can choose to be optimistic, and we can choose to Be Happy!
“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”
- Groucho Marx
Make a decision…start there!
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