Whenever we begin something anew that we’ve done many times before, whether a work project or a romantic relationship, there are always parts of us that are the same, and others that are different.
Like the seasons we are dynamic and are always transforming, becoming someone new a little piece at a time. Sometimes the changes are dramatic and life-altering, such as a breakup with a former love or being let go from a job. They are as vibrant and jarring as seeing the leaves change colour and fall to the earth. Other times the differences are less subtle, but can still catch your eye. You tried dating someone but you were too different, or you just received a promotion and have to learn to navigate your new position.
In a particularly extreme case on my part, this time last year I was still reeling from my somewhat harebrained scheme of packing all of my belongings into my Nissan Sentra and heading out on a month long, 4,000 mile solo drive across the United States from a Vermont village of approximately 500 people, to Los Angeles, a sprawling metropolis home to millions. Oh sure, I had taken many road trips before throughout the United States and Canada, but this particular road trip was different because I was moving, and while en route to the west coast, was essentially homeless.
Now if that thought terrifies you you’re not alone. The first day I drove about 20 minutes before bursting into tears: I was leaving everything I had ever known to go to someplace new and unknown, something that terrifies all of us. But about a week into my drive I realised that driving by myself is something I did all the time, and that each time I either learned something new about myself, made new friends, or had a rewarding and exciting experience. That singular thought shifted my whole perspective from one of apprehension and fear into one of (mostly) excitement and hope.
If you’re going through something difficult it always helps to gain a new perspective on your current situation – get some distance from what you’re seeing as the problem by either occupying yourself with another task or going out for a walk, drive, or bike ride. Whatever you do, try not to think about it. Think of this as an active meditation; every time your mind starts to focus on your obstacle kindly acknowledge its existence and then let the thought fade.
Getting a good night’s sleep is always a great way of gaining perspective as our brain’s subconscious is able to flourish when we’re having a date with our pillow. Then instead of immediately looking at your phone when you wake up, sit quietly for a few minutes, read a book, go for a run, or just hop in the shower. Sometimes we gain our greatest insights about our current situation when we’re not even thinking about it – how many of us heard the tale of Archimedes who figured out volume displacement by shouting “Eureka!” and running through the streets naked?
If you simply look at your situation in a different manner, your solution might just jump out and hit you in the face. Maybe your significant other was having a stressful day and didn’t handle the situation properly, or maybe you weren’t very understanding because you were stressed about your own work project. Gaining a new perspective is a simple practice, yet one that we have not practiced as much as we should.
So approach your situation with a fresh perspective and you may learn things about the world and about yourself that you may have never thought possible.