Do you ever find yourself being bummed about a bad experience, while another person remains perfectly positive in the same situation? This has everything to do with your perspective. The truth is, if you try hard enough, you can always find the negative in a situation. But can you change your perspective to focus on the positive?
When you learn how to change your perspective, it’s like opening yourself up to an entirely new universe. Simply shifting your focus can change your mood and sense of purpose to help you enjoy life on a whole new level.
In this article, I will give you hands-on tips to help you broaden your perspective to better find the beauty that exists in most situations in life.
Why do we get stuck in our current perspective?
So if changing our perspective can potentially change our lives for the better, why don’t we do it? I would say for the vast majority of us the answer is that we are comfortable in our current perspective or unwilling to do the hard work it takes to change our perspective.
Research shows that our brains look for the most efficient way to make decisions, but the same research shows that if we’re not being challenged to think in new ways we’re not growing or learning.
So you’re welcome to keep your current perspective, but as a result, you may never grow or develop into the best version of yourself. And I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a real snooze to me.
I’d rather wake up to all that life has to offer by shaking up how I view things from time to time. I would rather be uncomfortable and growing instead of comfortable and coasting through life.
Benefits of changing your perspective
One of the big benefits of changing your perspective is it helps you get more objective about whatever it is that you’re facing. And often, this objectivity can help us spin our emotions to work in our favor when we face tough times.
In a study in 2016, researchers found that individuals who were able to take on a third-person point of view demonstrated less intensity in both negative and positive emotions in relation to a situation. This means that you can turn down the volume on less helpful emotions related to problems you face by taking on a new perspective.
Personally, I can attest that learning how to change my perspective has played a large role in helping me fight anxiety and depression. I used to be highly anxious going into work day in and day out. I would spend the whole ride to work in a state of dread and fear.
By learning to shift my perspective to one of gratitude for having a job and seeing it as an opportunity to learn and grow when I make mistakes, I have been able to dissipate the anxiety and come to a place where I truly get a kick out of what I do.
Sometimes, you are literally one perspective shift away from being a happier version of yourself.
6 ways to change your perspective
Let’s broaden your perspective with these helpful tips that you can put into practice starting now.
1. For every negative list two positives
It’s so much easier for our brains to focus on the negatives in life. And because I know I’m wired to think this way, it takes extra effort to change my perspective to see all the good that surrounds me.
One of the easiest techniques that I use when I know I need to shift my perspective is saying two positive things in my life every time I catch myself complaining about something. It sounds silly and simplistic, but I am telling you, it works.
By forcing yourself to literally verbalize twice as many good things as bad things in your life, you start to realize just how fortunate you really are. And by having to think of two positive things in your life, you start to cue your brain to rewire to highlight the positives in your life.
Try it for just one day. You’ll be surprised what it does for your perspective and your attitude.
2. Switch up your environment
Sometimes in order to change your perspective you need to change your physical surroundings.
This could look as simple as doing a little feng-shui in your house or as big as moving to a completely new city. If life feels stagnant, changing your physical environment can be a powerful stimulus for getting back your pizazz.
I remember back in college I was working a job part-time that I didn’t enjoy whatsoever and I was surrounded by co-workers who also hated what they were doing. It started to make me dread work and even bled into my attitude about my school work.
I knew I needed to change my perspective, but I just wasn’t sure how to start. I was telling my friend about the situation and she asked me point blank, “Why don’t you just change jobs? It sounds like you really don’t like that job.”
The next day I put in my two weeks and I found a different job. And my whole mood and attitude shifted dramatically. I felt excited about school again and I didn’t mind my work. Sometimes you have to shake things up and change your environment to get a new perspective.
3. Ground yourself in the moment
Another way that I use day in and day out to change my perspective is focusing on the present moment. Now I’m no Buddhist monk or master meditator, but I believe that mindfulness about the present moment can alter your perspective in a matter of seconds.
Sometimes I get so caught up in all the stressors of life and this makes me ultra-grumpy. I live in a state of such anxiety in moments like this that I can’t see beyond the stressors.
But if I can draw myself back into the present moment and control the controllables, I find that I can shift my perspective to one of gratitude and joy even when things may be falling apart around me.
Sometimes the change in perspective means getting out of your future-focused brain and instead embracing the here and now mentality. Taking two breaths and realizing you are alive and present can be the simple perspective shift that wakes you up to how much beauty there truly is in your life.
4. Burst your comfort bubble
If you feel like life is growing dull, you can get a completely new perspective by making a concerted effort to burst your comfort bubble.
And yes, this is most likely going to make you slightly uncomfortable. But do you know anyone that figured out all life had to offer by living in their comfort bubble?
When I find myself living with my blinders on, I try to do an activity that I would never otherwise do to mix things up.
Just a month ago, I decided to try salsa dancing. Now if you ever saw me dancing, you would wonder whether I had two left feet and question who allowed me to be out on the dance floor.
But I know by forcing myself to do challenging things that I don’t normally do, I find that spark again. And I start to realize that I don’t need to take life so seriously, which is one of the best perspective shifts in my personal opinion.
Try that painting class you’ve been eyeing or go to a heavy metal concert if it scares you. By trying new things you begin to not only realize how big the world out there really is, but it will also introduce you to folks with perspectives that vary from yours and that’s half the fun.
5. Become the student
Do you remember back when you were a student? You were probably so curious about everything. And you probably questioned everything you were learning in a healthy way.
Somewhere along the passage of time, we have a tendency to lose this sense of curiosity and start to embrace our reality as truth. But that student mentality can be the exact thing that helps you change your perspective for the better.
When I am struggling in the clinic, I try to channel my student mentality. I remember back when I was doing my clinical rotations, I was excited by challenging patient presentations and wanted to problem-solve to figure out how I could help the person in front of me.
When I challenge that mentality, I get excited about my work and I am better able to collaborate with the patient in front of me.
So if you’re struggling or if you simply feel blah about life, try to put back on your student lenses and ask questions. This alone can get you thinking about things in a completely novel way.
6. Take time to rest
If someone is calling you a negative nancy or if you find yourself sustaining a perpetual doom and gloom perspective, the solution you’re so desperately seeking may be rest.
Resting in the form of solid sleep or taking a vacation can help you recalibrate and be able to see things in a different light. I can tell when it’s been too long since my last vacation because I usually find myself falling back into the “living for the weekend” mentality.
Anytime I have felt burnt out, stressed, or overwhelmed, I feel almost brand new if I prioritize good sleep hygiene and plan for some time off.
Sometimes finding a new perspective isn’t complicated at all. It might be as simple as getting some quality z’s or taking a mental health day.
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If you feel like you need to change your perspective, open your eyes to the magic that is right under your nose by using the tips from this article. And with a shift in perspective, you can start to feel jazzed about the life you get to live every day of the week.
What's your favorite way to change your perspective? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!