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My family is in the process of buying our first home. We have had an interesting few months of it, and when a friend called my husband recently and asked how he was doing, my husband shared our news and then got ready to vent about it – about the “great investment” we almost made that turned out to be quite the opposite, about our landlord refusing to go month to month on our lease after the house fell through, about having to pack up and move…in with my parents, while we (hopefully) closed on another house.
My husband told me he had just opened his mouth to complain when his friend’s voice came through the line, “Buying a house? How exciting! I’m so happy for you guys!” In that instant, my husband realized, yes, it was exciting. And, however bumpy the journey had been, it was definitely one with a happy outcome. Despite the stress along the way, this was a really good thing – he just hadn’t been seeing it that way.
Sometimes, it takes another’s point of view to shake up our own, to make us realize that we have been stuck on one path of thinking or reacting when there are many other paths to choose from. Stressful situations can stop us from keeping things in perspective. Worries loom in the forefront, immediate and menacing, while reason and optimism shrink back to pinpoints on the horizon.
And while there are some instances when “perspective” on the situation doesn’t really apply (and might even be downright disrespectful to suggest), many of the situations we stress about everyday don’t fall into that category. Usually they are things that, while they don’t seem small at the time, actually are, especially when compared to the really big, important things (like waking up every day). It is hard, though, to see things clearly when stuck in the thick of stressful situations. How can we gain back clear sight when our perspective goes out of whack?
Keeping Things In Perspective
It can be immensely helpful to get another’s take on issues that we grapple with – not necessarily soliciting advice from someone, but speaking with a trusted friend who will give us the gift of simply listening, or provide honest feedback when asked. What can be even more important, though, is being able to remind ourselves about keeping things in perspective, to work at keeping the molehills from looking like mountains.
A simple way of doing this can be to follow up a negative thought with a reasonable one before we get mired in the bad. Our “great investment” house turned out to be a money pit and cost us months of house-searching time? Luckily, we found out what we needed to before we actually purchased it, spending very little on a home inspector compared to what buying it would have ended up costing! S
tuck with my parents for two months while making settlement? Thank goodness I have a loving family willing to open their doors to us. Buying a house is stressful? We are both proud and lucky to be able to even make such a choice.
Keeping Things In Perspective In Everyday Life
It applies to many things we deal with every day. Tough day at work?That hard work earns the paycheck at the end of the week. Kids making a mess of the house?What a gift to have healthy, happy kids who are able to run and play (and be taught to clean up).
Many of our everyday complaints can be easily balanced by reminding ourselves of the positive aspects they do have, if only we allow ourselves to view them in a different light. Sometimes, that can even mean trying to see them through another’s eyes. Not by comparing ourselves with others, but by realizing that the world is a big place and can be looked at in many different ways, not just from our own, singular point of view.
Our problems can be regarded in the same way. Looked at it in different light, they may not even seem like problems. Recently, my mom and I were having a conversation about working out and in the middle of complaining about her upper arms (sorry Mom!) she stopped, looked at my daughter (who was listening with a puzzled look on her face) and said “You know what? I’m pretty lucky I have strong arms that can lift you up, aren’t I? Who cares what they look like?” and with that, she picked my daughter up and swung her around, both of them laughing while my mother’s arms, and thoughts, were put firmly into perspective.