2 ways to see life

see life from different perspectives

see life from different perspectives

An unexpected expense messes up your holiday budget. Hitting three red lights on the way to work makes you frustratingly late. You back your car into a parking bay at just the wrong angle and your car scrapes along a pole all down one side. What terrible luck. Exactly when you don’t need it. The universe can seem cruel.

That’s one way to look at it. Of course, the other would be to remember the times you thought something was going to cost a lot more and ended up saving money (or that unexpected pay raise). Or the time when you hit so many green lights in a row it seemed like your drive was blessed. Or the time where, had things gone slightly differently, you would have been glad to escape with only a scrape down the side of your car—the time when you just missed being in a car accident.

There are two ways to look at this life. The one that looks at the odds and says, Why me? and the other that looks at the same odds and thinks, Why me? Why am I so lucky? 

The ancient Stoic philosopher Epictetus said “every situation has two handles” -  We can see all the things that go wrong in the world, all the breaks we didn’t get, all the things we wish went differently. Or we can see how truly fortunate we are to be born here and now in a time of antibiotics and chemotherapy, to have the privilege of even owning a computer to look at this article, to count our blessings and acknowledge how far ahead we have come out so far.  Practising gratitude daily can help us to tune into the good in our lives. 

We choose which handle we will grab, which perspective we will take. And this decision determines our mood, well being and the quality of our life.  Psychology uses the same principles in cognitive behavioural therapy, where our negative thoughts are examined and re-framed to be more rational and realistic and this strategy is particularly helpful in the management of depression and anxiety.    Which handle will you take?  

Because you read this, you may like these tools  manage negative thoughts  and the 7-day gratitude challenge.

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