Lately I’ve become really clear on one simple thing that separates the winners from the losers in life: perspective. What I mean by that is NOT that some people are just losers and other people are winners. In fact, I believe the complete opposite of that, I believe that there are no winners or losers, and also that anyone can be winner and anyone can be a loser.
There, now that I’ve likely confused you, let me explain.
I’ll warn you up front that if you want to take anything away from this article, you’re going to have to stick with me until the end. If you leave halfway through, you might be left thinking I’m off my rocker. Fair warning.
Next, you ought to know that this is somewhat of an interactive article. Think of this article as a tool for you to actually “get” the concept, instead of just knowing it. Ever met someone who’s overweight despite knowing that if they just eat healthy and exercise they’d be in good shape? Exactly. Knowing makes no difference.
So first things first, I need you to think about an area of your life that leaves you feeling frustrated, upset, angry, stressed, overwhelmed, etc. Next, imagine the worst possible outcome, aside from death, if that problem were to continue in the direction it’s headed. Okay great, so now you’ve got this area that’s causing you all sorts of stress and whatever else, and you’re trying to imagine the worst possible outcome in that area. Now ask yourself:
How significant is it?
How much would it matter if that worst case scenario were to come true?
How big of an impact would it make?
Of course your answer is likely that the significance is chart-topping, it would matter a LOT, and the impact would be HUGE. Yeah? Okay good.
Now, imagine you’re sitting on your death bed in 30-70 years.
Looking back, how significant is it now? How much did it matter that the worst case scenario came true? How big of an impact did it make?
Little less significant? Maybe. Maybe it didn’t matter quite so much, but it was still a pretty big deal, yeah? And maybe the impact was still pretty big.
What if you zoomed out over more than just your own life? What if you zoomed out to overlook your entire city? Looking at your entire city and all the problems within it, how significant is your problem? How about if you were to zoom out over your entire country? How about the whole world? At this point, your worst case scenario is likely pretty small and insignificant, with a rather tiny impact.
And so this begs the question: if even your biggest, baddest problem is seemingly insignificant, what’s the point? In the grand scheme of things, none of it makes any difference because of one simple truth.
Here’s the reality: in a number of years (we don’t quite know how many) you will die. Your life will end, people will be sad, and life will carry on. All the stress, all the worry, all the sadness that you experience between now and then will make no difference. There are many different paths you can take, but rest assured that the destination is always the same.
YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.
*(Now seems like a good time to remind you to stick with me until the end…)
When you think about it, the only logical conclusion you can come to after that last little realization is that the destination can’t be what life is all about, but rather that the journey is what you ought to concern yourself with. If you and everyone around you are one day going to end up either six feet under or burned up into ashes sitting on someone’s mantle, then all we can really do as human beings is hope to enjoy the journey a little bit more. Maybe, just maybe, we can learn, grow, develop, and contribute enough in our lifetime that someone else is able to enjoy their journey a little bit more as well, as a result of us having been around. And MAYBE, just MAYBE, we can learn, grow, develop, and contribute SO MUCH that someone who we don’t even know (maybe even after we’re gone) is able to enjoy their journey a little more as a result of us having been around.
Now, if you were to truly get that, would you maybe choose to live your life a little differently than you are right now? Maybe you’d worry less and care more? Maybe you’d switch stress for relaxation? Maybe you’d be less focused on what others can do for you and look more to see what you can do for others?
Hmmm, something to think about…
Wanna to know the trick? Want the secret to living a life of happiness, joy, compassion, gratitude, and abundance?
Well, we just decided that your biggest problem; the one that seemed SO significant before, turned out to be completely insignificant when we zoomed it out, yeah? Well, hidden within that realization is another little gift:
Your problems are only problems because you make them problems.
No one on the other side of the world sees your problem as a problem because to them, it simply doesn’t matter. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could do that with your own problems? Well you can. It isn’t easy at first, but I’ll be damned if I’m not willing to do a little work for this. I just told you this is the secret to living a life of happiness, joy, compassion, gratitude, and abundance! Is that not worth putting in a little effort for?
Here’s the deal: I want you to take that massive problem of yours and say it out loud, but before you start, I want you to try to look at it from a different perspective. Start your sentence with “Isn’t it beautiful/awesome/great that…”
I’ll show you what I mean with some of the areas of my own life that others may consider problematic:
Problem: Most mornings, I wake up earlier than the water heater in my building, resulting in the need to take an arctic shower.
“Isn’t it great that I’m forced to take a cold, energizing shower each morning that leaves me feeling awake and ready for the day!”
Problem: I lost the key f.o.b for my building, so every time I park my car (4 stories underground) I now need to walk up 4 flights of stairs and it takes me about twice as long.
“Isn’t it awesome that I’m forced to not only get moving a little more each day, but also to be less rushed!”
BIG Problem: I’m $40,000 in debt.
“Isn’t it beautiful that I’ve been able to realize that abundance doesn’t come from money. Isn’t it absolutely amazing that I’ve been able to not let money stop me from pursuing my dreams!”
It’s worth noting that the “biggest” problem has also been my biggest blessing. I’m quitting my job to travel the world come September, despite the fact that I’ll be dead broke. Money is one of the most common limitations that people use as an excuse for not pursuing their passions. Had I not gone into debt, I never would have learned the invaluable lesson of not letting money limit me. You’ve probably heard the saying “money will always be a problem, whether you’ve got it or you don’t”. Well, the flip side of that is for money to never be a problem, whether you’ve got it or you don’t.
That’s all there is to it. Nothing more has to happen for you to be living a life of happiness and abundance. Your circumstances don’t need to change. You don’t need more money, or a nicer car, or a bigger house. The people around you don’t need to change. All that needs to change is your perspective.
You see, the thing is, there’s no such thing as a “problem”. There’s also no such thing as an “opportunity”. Things just happen and they mean absolutely nothing. We, as humans, create all of the meaning that shows up in our lives.
Now, you can certainly choose to create meaning that leaves you feeling angry, upset, frustrated, worried, etc. and who am I to tell you what to do? Let’s not forget that the end result is still going to be the same. I just make up that if we’re all going to die anyway, we might as well be happy, joyful, grateful, loving, and blessed as much as possible.
When your perspective changes, your whole world changes. When your world changes, the whole world changes.
Ready, set, action.