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Big Man, Tiny Habits: The Smallest Shift in Perspective Can Make All the Difference

Why is it we say things like “taking a poop” or “losing your virginity?” You’re not taking anything with you, nor are you losing anything. So who decided how we would address these major seminal moments of life? More importantly, why do we attribute negative perspective to some of the most positively impactful moments?

We realize taking a dump isn’t seminal, and hopefully not impactful, but you get where we’re going.

The English language is fraught with phrases we use every day, many of which reduce major life moments to an every-day activity. We gloss over milestones like they’re picture books that quickly have their pages turned before being set down, never to be looked at again. But with the smallest shift in perspective, we can mark an enormous difference in what have as well as what we have achieved. This can rewire our brains to be grateful, as opposed to resentful for what we don’t have and what’s been lost.

Our quarantine time has been its own form of homeschooling. Life has been hard, and most of us are dealing with a lot more than being stuck at home, hiding from a virus. Many of us have lost jobs, insurance, hope, loved ones, pets, perspective and the miracle of positive thinking. The more difficult things get, the easier it is for us to put a negative spin on them. But we have to realize that most of our problems are creations of our minds, and we have to make the choice to shift our gaze in order to make it better.

Sounds easy, but we’ll be the first to admit it’s not. We will promise you this: The more you do it, the easier it gets to do it more.

For instance — let’s go with a cyclical problem right now — maybe you just lost your job, health insurance went with it and all the money you were saving for a new car just went to paying rent to avoid eviction, hoping you can get another job soon so you can go back to paying rent and saving for a car, hoping we don’t run into this problem again a year from now.

Your perspective right now might be something like: I didn’t really like that job, but it paid the bills. I was saving money, which seems rare for 85 percent of people and eventually, I’ll figure out what I really want to do. Until then, you’ll mope about losing your job, not being able to afford anything and being stuck at home with nothing to do but binge TV and dwell on everything you lost.

Your perspective right now could be something like: You know, I didn’t like that job anyway. My heart wasn’t in it, and I don’t really need a new car if I’m home for the next few months. Maybe I’ll get up early, spend time making lists of things I want for myself in life and in work, then spend this time I have figuring out how to get those things. I may be stuck at home, but I’m not going to dwell on the bad. There’s work to be done, whether or not I’m getting paid, and I’m lucky I have this time to rethink some things.

Want an easier one?

You could be thinking your life really sucks right now. You’re lonely, exhausted and not feeling very hopeful. But you could be thinking: I’m not great, but things could be a lot worse.

Nobody is denying you your right to be unhappy, sad, exhausted, pissed off and over this little social experiment. We’re all that way. It’s just as much what you do as how you look at it. So what’s it going to be, a lifetime of misery or the power of positive thinking?

What we have is now, and not much else is certain, despite many of us assuming life is long and full of opportunities. Chadwick Boseman and many others have been warning signs along the path this year to remind us of the certainty of uncertainty. So now is the time to shift our perspective, stay positive and be impeccable with our words.

It’ll be a lot easier if you do, trust us.

A good challenge for shifting your perspective is an exercise we learned from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. It teaches us to not be our thoughts, but to instead observe them. So instead of being angry and flying off the handle, recognize your feelings and accept that some things are making you sad, angry, frustrated, then decide how you’re going to deal with them. It’s like taking a step back so your thoughts don’t take you over.

If you see yourself wanting to voice your negative outlook on things, try to pump the brakes, take a step back, maybe have a laugh at yourself for a second, then shift your perspective and come at it from a better way. Sometimes the words alone make an enormous difference.

So the next time you’re “taking a crap,” just remember that, for once in your life, you’re going to offer it to the toilet.

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Cover: Twenty20photos (Envato Elements)