Do you ever ask yourself, what am I doing with my life? Have I lost the plot. And my mind? Should I not be doing what everyone else is doing?
I’m not even sure what I mean by that. Probably something along the lines of blending in and enjoying a life where I’m seduced by the comforts of conformity.
Surely, it’s not just me? And surely, those who find themselves on the other side of the spectrum are thinking the very same thing?
Maybe it’s my age? Maybe it’s because I work on my own? Maybe it’s because I’m living upside down on this globe, thousands of miles away from the friends and family I grew up with. And maybe it’s because I’m typing this on a Monday!
My decisions have taken me on a crazy journey. The last few years have been incredible. And equally terrifying. While there have been dips, if I were to graph my overall satisfaction with life, it all trends upwards, which is great. Yay for me! And yet the questions still loom.
Why is that? Why do we do it to ourselves?
Is it the paradox of choice? Is it because every time we go online, we’re inundated with media and ads which force us to question our worth? Is it because we believe their bullsh*t? And buy into the narrative of the self-righteous?
Or is it simply because life is a b*tch?
Desire is a b*tch. Greed is a b*tch. Selfishness is a b*tch. Pride is a b*tch. And envy, most certainly, is a b*tch.
Yet every curse comes with a virtue…
Without greed, we would have no drive.
Without selfishness, there would be no selflessness.
Without misery, there would be no ecstasy.
Without anxiety, would we ever know peace?
And without hate, would there even be love?
For the record, I have absolutely no idea what I just wrote. But it sounds good, so let’s just run with it…
My argument is that most — not all — of our pain is simply because we lack perspective.
Balance is a fool’s errand. We constantly sway. It’s called emotion.
Unfortunately, our brains have a hardwired negativity bias which doubles down on negative emotions—the ones that make us doubt and question and beat ourselves up.
Society and marketing have caught onto this. And while it used to be reserved for billboards and TV, now every time you look at your phone, you are overwhelmed by advertisements telling you you’re not good enough. Messaging that has you asking endless questions of yourself, and the Universe in general, like…
What am I doing with my life? Are my wrinkles that bad? Am I too skinny? Am I too fat? Are all my friends that happy and successful? Is there life after death? Do Aliens exist? What’s really going on in that Area 51 place? And are we ever going to find out who killed Kenny?
When negative emotions hit, we have a tendency to believe they shouldn’t be happening to us—that we should be happy all the time. Or we want to believe that.
We deny the laws of emotion and come down on ourselves with the force of a wrecking ball delivering a bitter serving of guilt and pain and the assumption that we’re a stupid, irresponsible, and pathetic for f*cking up our entire life—a crime that deserves to be punished with self-loathing, misery, and self-victimization.
When, in actual fact, we haven’t f*cked anything up because negative emotions are part of the deal. We need them. Without them, the positive ones would grow stale and boring.
What we don’t need to do is amplify them, beat ourselves up, and make everything worse.
Perspective makes everything better. Because usually, things are nowhere near as bad as we make them out to be.
Every time I go through my own sh*t storm, it’s always perspective that restores my faith in my world. And humanity.
Here are four ways to help you gain a greater perspective in your life:
1. Change your environment
It takes a special person to stand in a cesspit and proclaim life is great. When I’m standing in sh*t—sh*t is all I can see. When a wave of negativity washes in and starts messing up your day, the very best thing you can do is get out of there.
Changing your environment and removing yourself from your stressor will have a profound impact on your mood and outlook as it will allow you to begin the process of perspective.
2. Accept it
We all have to do things we don’t want to do. We all are going to feel overwhelmed at times. Circumstance will always throw up challenges we don’t want to face. Allowing your emotions to boil over is not going to make it any more bearable. Worrying is not going to make things better. Only action will. You can accept or deny that fact.
Accepting whatever needs to be accepted and deploying a little bit of patience will make it far more bearable while increasing the likelihood of you gaining your perspective and understanding there is an awful lot to be celebrated when you come out the other end.
3. Stop looking outward
When focussing your energy outwards, you’re not focussed on what’s right for you. Or what you can control.
We look outwards because we seek validation and care way too much about what other people think. We also waste bucket loads of energy comparing ourselves to peers and “influencers” and “public figures” who are likely straight up, taking the piss out of you with how they portray their life online.
Are you being true to yourself, your values, and your beliefs?
By looking inwards, you can answer that and begin to focus on what REALLY matters to you. Not what you think matters based on others opinions.
4. Be grateful
We’re conditioned to have tunnel vision for what we don’t have and little appreciation for what we do have. This is detrimental.
Gratitude is a glorious bastard, that over time, will teach you to appreciate all you do have. And not lust after all you don’t have. Because if you are reading this on an Apple device, the chances are that you have more than enough.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive for more. But sometimes we need to stop being so ungrateful and appreciate all we have. When you start doing that, you might just find more worthy things in life and a much greater appreciation for it all. Including the struggle.
Gratitude can change your entire world and provide you with all the perspective you need. So get in the habit of giving thanks.
We all have problems. We will always have problems…
By taking the time to gain perspective, you will increase the likelihood of successfully navigating your way through life and finding the right solutions to the problems you encounter.
Sometimes you need to take an aerial view. The next time sh*t hits the fan, you can literally imagine a drone flying out your head and your mind to look at the bigger picture and get a clearer view of all that’s going on.
Life is tough enough. We are masters at making it far tougher than it needs to be. Perspective is just one powerful tool that can help bring you down to earth to ensure your short stint here is far more enjoyable.
In the grand scheme of things, 99% of your problems won’t matter ten years from now. You’ll just wish you didn’t allow them to matter so much now. And that’s something that’s absolutely worth remembering.
Originally posted on Dojo and reprinted with the author’s permission.