The Winning Mind: Keeping the Ups and Downs of Life in Perspective
Perhaps this post would be more accurately entitled ‘Getting the Ups and Downs of Life in Perspective, because that’s the real challenge we face so often.
It’s so incredibly easy to get caught up in the dramas of daily life, the stresses of work, money, relationships – you name it – that we lose sight of the big picture. The big picture is something that most only see long after the dust has well and truly settled on the path that lies behind us. Without perspective, present suffering can seem everlasting. Remember your first breakup? Your first love? So wrapped in the present we lose all perspective and this amplifies all feeling, pleasure and pain.
Perspective is important. It’s about being at peace with the way things are, beyond like and dislike. Rare indeed are the moments in life when everything miraculously and fleetingly happens in a way that is just the way you want it. And even if you think it’s true, odds are you’re just not seeing the billions of other events happening at the same time. Instead most of the time we are left grasping for this illusion of perfection, or fantasy, in the face of present conditions.
Then something happens to shake us out of these cognitive blinkers. It might just be your dog or cat demanding your attention with the prod of a damp nose or a probing claw sinking into an arm. Or it might be an adoring look from your child, or their cry after a fall. It can also be something altogether much bigger, like the illness or death of someone close, someone you love. Either way, these wake-ups bring us back into the moment and remove uncertainty around what is actually important in living – caring for ourselves and each other. In the scheme of things, everything else just pales into insignificance.
We spend as much time in the country as possible. When we do, and when we have the opportunity to care for our friends’ horses and dogs, we appreciate how so many of the questions around the choices we have each day seem to become unimportant and in a way that is really reassuringly simple. It’s much like having a family really. There are basic tasks that punctuate the day that simply have to be done, basic needs that have to be attended to regardless of whether we feel like it or not – animals to be fed, children to be cared for.
These simple, essential needs, especially when they become emergencies, really put the rest of our lives into perspective and allow us to see things for what they are. This is powerful because the quality of our life is 99% about our attitude and the way we feel about it. The game changer in life is never about the conditions. It’s always about mindset. So if you want to change your conditions you need to change the mindset first.
For this reason, whenever I get an unexpected jolt from the universe, I say thank you. Admittedly, it might take me a little while to remember, as awkward, inconvenient and even painful it might be. But I do it and I mean it and that makes all the difference.