I often think to myself, If something isn’t working out for you, either change the situation or change your perspective. Let’s say, for example, that I’m a person who loathes my job. I work at a meaningless part-time job, and I begin to resent my work. Every day I show up, I anticipate all the horrible inconveniences I will have to deal with. I know my boss will be in a bad mood, I know the customers will treat me like garbage, and I know that the work I do will have no effect on anyone’s lives. No one will look back on this day and think, “Wow, the way that cashier said, ‘Your total is $4.22’ was really inspiring to me.” So I go into work and–just as I knew would happen–I have a lousy day.
The resentment begins to build every day I go into work until the smallest task sets me off. If a customer requests something slightly above average of me, I immediately curse them for having the audacity to seek my assistance for whatever stupid problem they have, even if they’re reasonably polite about it. At the end of every day, I am emotionally exhausted from being so frustrated from being in the same horrible environment every day.
But I have a very obvious solution to this swelling problem in my life: either change my situation or change my perspective. Clearly, I am just making myself suffer by doing the same thing every day and wishing for better results, and so if I decide I actually want to improve the quality of my life, some action (and therefore work) will be involved.
When I change the situation, I physically rearrange my issues. This would involve actions such as changing my work availability to alleviate any scheduling griefs, or quitting my job and searching for a different line of work I would enjoy more. Changing the situation means standing up for yourself and putting yourself in a position to bloom. If you are miserable where you are, you don’t need to be. You have this incredible gift called freedom. If you are reading this, then you have every opportunity to improve your situation. If you dislike your job, you have the choice to quit and find a new job. If you want to learn something, you can go to the library or search the internet. If you hate where you live, move somewhere else. If all these physical factors bother your existence so much, you have the miraculous ability to improve it for yourself. But you must know what you truly want first–not what some deeply-ingrained voice inside your head tells you that you want, but what is really best for you and your soul.
Or, you can change your perspective.
This is how I want to introduce to you how powerful the mind is. How incredibly important your thoughts are.
Karma, The Golden Rule, “You get what you give”–all these age-old concepts endure because they capture something very true. When you put out good energy, you feel good. When you laugh at a joke, you feel good. When you smile at a stranger, it feels good. When you dance as if no one’s paying attention, you feel good. When you’re doing these things, you’re focused on the present–even if just for that one millisecond where you let your guard down and feel that brief rush of enjoyment.
Bad things will happen to you. Or, “bad” things will happen to you. Basically, things will happen to you. And it’s up to your mind to interpret them. “Bad” things are going to happen to you regardless of who you are, and it’s just a matter of figuring it out when it comes up. If you’re focused on the good and putting good energy out into the world, the things that really suck won’t occupy as much of your mind and you will be attracting all the good energy that is out there in this world. If you spend all your energy dwelling on the bad, you have only done yourself a disservice. You owe it to yourself and to your soul to let go of the annoying things. You don’t have to bottle negativity. You don’t have to accept negativity. Deflect the negativity. Because you are your own hub of energy and whatever is going on with someone else is their own problem.
So, when I talk about changing your perspective, I mean it. If I hate my job and I don’t want to torture myself anymore, but I can’t quite leave it, then I will change how I view my day. Instead of expecting my day to be horrible, which essentially invites negativity (because when you expect something, you use any evidence along the way to prove yourself and your expectations right), I will meet each task that comes my way with an open heart and an open mind. If my boss gives me attitude, I nod and get along with my duty. There’s no point in dwelling on this slight microaggression, which really could have been a misunderstanding anyway, and dwelling on it will only make my mind suffer and create a divide between my boss and me. If a customer spills something, I’ll clean it up because when I spill things, it’s nice to have some help, and accidents happen. We all make mistakes and we move on. We don’t need to hold onto it. I invite you to let go of the negativity.
When you go into your day feeling content to face anything that comes your way, you feel good. Tell yourself, “Things may not go my way, but it’s okay. I’m happy to be me. I will share my good energy with people who are open to good things, and I’m not responsible for anyone having a bad day. All their emotions are based off their perspective and I have no control over their perspective. I only have control over my perspective and I am choosing to focus my emotional energy on good things, not ‘bad’ things.”
Instead of going to my job and telling myself over and over, “I’m not getting paid enough to do this. No one appreciates me. What’s the point of breaking my back over the same things day and day again? I work twice as hard as everyone else and not even a ‘thank you.’ Everyone’s so shitty to me and it wouldn’t make a difference if I died,” I’m going to tell myself, “This is just my job. This is just what I do to pay some bills. If I am not successful at this job, it’s okay. ‘Successful’ is subjective anyway. This job does not define me. But while I’m here, I may as well try to have a good time. Everyone around me has their own lives and I hope they’re enjoying themselves, too. I won’t let the poor coping skills of unhappy people plague my life. That has nothing to do with me. My life is special and my soul is sacred. I appreciate myself and this breath.”
You are far more likely to have a good day when you keep your chin up, shoulders back, and chest up, open to the good the world has to share with you, then when you keep your head down and you immediately shut down anything slightly different that comes your way, which could even be one of those “blessings in disguise.”
Of course, this all takes practice. It’s hard, of course, but it’s totally possible to change your perspective. And once you’ve felt the release, the incredible freedom of not letting the negativity touch you, you will feel the reward of all your mental work. Don’t get lazy with your internal voice–don’t let yourself be the victim in your mind. Do you imagine yourself as the underdog in some Hollywood film, where life just beats you down and you have to be the poor, suffering main character, until one day you’re magically rewarded for being a chump and all the pain was worth it? That’s not the essential law of the universe. Don’t look at your life like that. You’re better than the victim.
And life owes you nothing. But that’s not a bad thing. That just means you don’t have to take it personally. So while you’re not the victim, you’re also not the hero. We are all just here to have a little fun and move on. Doesn’t that take the pressure off, just a little bit? Enjoy yourself, friend. It feels good to smile.
I share this with you because we don’t really talk much about the way we think. The way we interpret different actions. The trillions of perspectives each person can have. It’s easy to be lazy with our internal voices, and just let ourselves fall into a pit inside our mind and just yell up to the world from the bottom of our self-pitying abyss. We’re most definitely implicitly taught to think this way, too. I think this way sometimes, myself.
I share this with you because over the past couple years, I’ve worked (and am still working) a lot on how I view life, and I want to help other people help themselves. I hope to share more of my ideas on topics like this in future blogs. The mind is such a powerful organ, but a person will never change in any capacity unless they work at it for themselves. It is work, but life feels so much better when you feel secure in who you are and happy for all the blessings your soul gains from.