Do little things make you unnecessarily stressed?
Do you feel a nagging sense of dissatisfaction with your life?
Do you struggle to see other people’s point of view?
It’s often hard to keep a sense of perspective in our lives. We’re constantly bombarded with urgent-seeming stimuli – like texts, phone calls, instant messages, tweets and emails. We live each day in a rush, fighting our way through an endless to-do list.
And we often grumble and complain about problems in our life, while ignoring all the good things which we have. We might get blinkered and feel that our opinions are the right ones.
Changing your perspective can be incredibly refreshing. It might:
- Open up new possibilities that you hadn’t thought of before
- Help you to heal a relationship with someone who you thought had “stupid” values and opinions
- Calm you down when you’re feeling stressed
- Let you enjoy and appreciate all the good things you already have
Here are seven simple ways to change your perspective. Give one (or more!) of them a try, today:
#1: Ask “Will it Matter in Five Years”?
When I’m anxious about something, this is what I often ask myself. Almost always, the answer is that it won’t matter in a week, let alone in five years.
Some days – even some moments – are life-changing. You’ve probably been through some of these – like exams, job interviews, the decision to get married, or buying a house.
Most of what we worry about, though, is fleeting and trivial. Maybe you’ve made a mistake at work, or you’ve had a dinner crisis which means your family is eating pizza for the third time in three days. It’s really not worth stressing yourself over.
#2: Draw or Write About a Situation
Maybe you’ve got a big decision to make, or a big problem to confront. It might have been on your mind for days or weeks; it could even be something that you’ve talked about (or argued about) with your partner.
The problem is, you feel like you’re not getting anywhere. You’re just as uncertain or anxious as you were before.
This is a great time to grab a pen and paper. Either write about the problem – perhaps in the style of a journal entry, or as a list of ideas – or draw something which represents the current situation. By doing your thinking on paper, you automatically start creating structure and order, allowing you to see things from a new, clearer, perspective. Chances are, you’ll find several possible solutions.
#3: Write a List of Things You’re Grateful For
Whatever your current situation, you’ve got loads of great things in your life too. Some of us (me included!) find it all too easy to moan about stuff which isn’t going well – but pretty hard to spot the everyday good things which we take for granted.
Spend five minutes writing a list of things which you’re grateful for. They can be big (“my parents’ love and support”) or small (“fresh coffee”). This is a powerful exercise to do on a regular basis, perhaps every week. You can also do it as a family.
#4: Go For a Walk
When I’m feeling a bit fed up or out of sorts, I try to get outside for a walk. Often I don’t feel like doing it – but as soon as I’m out and moving, I find my mood dramatically improving.
Walking is a great way to get yourself physically away from whatever’s stressing you (your work, the state of the house…) and to give yourself a chance to think. If you can head somewhere relaxing, like a local park or area of woodland, you’ll find that your thoughts quieten down and that it’s easier to get things into perspective.
#5: Go Travelling
Getting away from home – whether that’s for a few days or a few months – can be an incredibly powerful, even life-changing, experience. Just staying in a different city will jolt you out of your usual routine (and perhaps help you figure out what you’d like to add into your daily life).
If you go abroad, you’ll be able to experience a completely new perspective. You’ll see how life can be lived in hundreds of very different ways. You’ll have the space and time to reflect on your own life, and you may well be motivated to make big changes.
Even the duller bits of travelling can be powerful: a long airplane ride might be a rare opportunity to read a whole book in one sitting, for instance.
#6: Ask “Why” – And Keep Asking
Next time you’re struggling to get perspective, ask why you do something. Channel your inner child here – be tenacious in pushing for a real answer!
If you’re working a job you hate, why are you doing it? Perhaps it’s for the money – but do you really need that money? (You may well do. But it’s possible that you’re trying to support a lifestyle that’s actually making you miserable.)
It can be uncomfortable to look at the reasons why we’re pursuing the goals that we have. But by being honest with yourself, you can open up the possibility of change.
#7: Listen to An Argument for The Other Side
Most of us have deeply held beliefs on some subjects – perhaps religion, politics, morality, social justice, or similar weighty issues.
You might find it very hard to understand how anyone could be so crazy as to support the “opponents” of your particular viewpoint. It’s an interesting exercise to read or listen to an argument put forwards by a group which you’d normally totally disagree with.
I’m not suggesting that you should change your views or compromise your values. But I am suggesting that you recognize that there are intelligent, thoughtful, good people who have different opinions from you. You might well disagree with them – but it’s useful to see where they’re coming from.
This can be a powerful and even upsetting way to change your perspective, so proceed with caution, and don’t get drawn into arguments yourself: just listen and make the effort to understand.
Are there any areas of life where you need to get some perspective? If you’ve got any thoughts or ideas to share, the comments are open…
Photo by Helga Weber
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13 thoughts on “Seven Creative Ways to Change Your Perspective”
What a refreshing post, it hit some key points in my mind. Thanks!
I liked this! Especially #s 4,5, and 6. Travelling being my favorite way to change my perspective. There is nothing quite like getting away to change your mind!
I like #1 too – will it matter in five years? That should be written, framed and hung up somewhere in my home! I often “look along the line of time”; project myself into the future and then look back at the present to appreciate it more and get an “outside” perspective on myself. It’s like imagining yourself on TV. LOL
Slowing ….down…. NOW!
Superb post, really great! Thankyou very much for posting – I shall remember this article for the next time I am feeling overwhelmed and would benefit from changing my perspective. I especially like your point “Will it matter in 5 Years?” – that is a question I shall make a point of asking myself as I keep changing and finding things to change in my own life. Kitty
As a yogi, I smiled with amusement when I saw the photo you selected for your post. (Nothing like an inversion.) For me, both yoga and a walk can help change perspective.
I especially liked your #6 of Asking Why. I want to keep this closer to my surface so I ask myself “why?” and then after I receive the response, ask myself “why?” again, and then probably after another response, ask “why?” one more time. It’s a technique I used years ago but had forgotten about it. When I used it before I could dig deeper and deeper into my assumptions, which was always enlightening and sometimes embarrassing!
Thanks so much for sharing your nuggets.
I like the idea of asking why. You can find a lot out by asking why, answering it, then asking why again. I have many journal entries like that.
Writing it down helps you get to the root of problems because you can go deeper on paper than you can in your head.
I like to use mindmaps to help open up my perspective. I often work on complicated projects. Sitting down and using a mindmap program like freemind helps me put all the pieces together. I can then sit back and see where I should go from here.
I really enjoyed number 3. I think that making a list is a great way to put your current situation into perspective! When we narrow our lives down to all the wonderful things in our lives, it becomes less important to make a list of all the negative things that bring us down.
Great post! Looking at things in a different perspective is definitely a way of being more objective and less emotional, and therefore react in a more positive, productive way. My favorites are 1,3 and 4. :)
Great points here to remember. I believe that we feel a need to overwhelm ourselves at times in order to stay busy. I do this sometimes but I also recognize the signs that I am doing too much and it is time to “chill-out”.
These are great tips! Regarding #1: Ask “Will it Matter in Five Years?” I like to ask, ” What will matter most when I’m about to depart? Who will surround me? What do I want my final thoughts to be?” It takes the ‘pressure’ off of my life.
Excellent thoughts. The “ask why” technique is helpful on a number of levels. I love Natalie Goldberg’s writing exercise (but not just for writers!). “Why Do I Write?” Answer quickly without overthinking it. If you don’t see yourself as a writer, substitute any other activity or role for the writing. Peace.
This is a great article. I really like points 1 and 3. Point 3 is so important because, in my humble opinion, most people, including myself, forget to give thought to all of the things we have to be grateful for each day.
Every time I read Ali’s article, I find it very similar with my thoughts and life style.
Very profound, and practical tips, that really works.