Reframing 101: The Power of Perspective
How To Rethink The Way You Think (and why you should)
The way you perceive your environment will differ greatly from the person next to you. To prove this point, ask yourself, regarding the photo above, is the lady falling or flying? It doesn't matter what the answer is. The point is the fact that two people could give different answers, purely based on two things:
- Their perspective, and
- Their current way of thinking.
Two people could perceive the same situation differently, but how they process those perceptions greatly influences the perceived outcome.
Because here's the thing…your life - in its entirety-is purely based on how you perceive and how you process your perceptions of your life. As confusing as that might sound, coming to terms with this can and will change your life.
Do I have your attention now?
Because below, I've listed three techniques that I utilize every day. These specific techniques have allowed me to view my life with a clear and open mind. This way, I can look at the events in my life in a way that suits me best at any given moment.
1.) Practice radical open-mindedness
I first discovered the term from a book, Principles by Ray Dalio, and it blew me away because we've all heard of the term "open-minded." Still, Ray really put it all into perspective when he says, "all you need to do is let go of your attachment to having the right answers yourself and use your fear of being wrong to become open-minded to these other views. In this way, you could point out the risks and opportunities that you would individually miss".
Really think about that for a second. How many opportunities have you missed out on due to your lack of open-mindedness? And how many more opportunities could you potentially expose yourself to simply by practicing some radical open-mindedness in the future?
The key is to approach everything in life with a beginner's mindset. It's not about being okay with being wrong. It's about understanding that we're more often wrong than we are right. By constantly pursuing the right answers, with radical open-mindedness, we avoid confrontation with the ego - the I'm always right part of ourselves - opening ourselves up to new opportunities and experiences in life.
2.) Practice the art of self-reflection, and for the love of God, start using a Journal!
I can't even begin to stress the importance of sustaining a weekly - if not daily - self-reflection ritual and (of equal importance) using a journal. Studies show that those who do are better off than those who don't. It's that simple. And it's not surprising.
For one, studies show that those of us who use a journal are less likely to develop specific diseases, such as asthma, aids, Alzheimer's, and even cancer.
Journaling is also one of the best ways to process emotions and certain events in our life. It allows us to look at the events in our life from a subjective perspective, making it easier to identify certain things that we might have missed, potentially learning some valuable lessons in the process. Journaling is also a great way to focus on what's important in life and eliminate distractions. The benefits are endless. But here's just a few more that come from sustaining a daily (if not weekly) self-reflection ritual:
- Reduces stress by helping identify (and eliminate) the cause.
- Great way to track (diet, finances, time spent)
- Helps cope with depression
- Connects past to present
- It's something to leave behind after you die
3.) Adopt a daily gratitude ritual
While we're on the topic of rituals, I might also bring up gratitude because we could all use a little gratitude in our life. Ask yourself, what are you thankful for? Like, really, really grateful for? Your family? Friends? Job? Shiny new video-game console? What about the clothes on your back? The fresh air? Or the fact that you even woke up this morning?
See, we often overlook the tiniest reasons to be grateful, not realizing that these are actually some pretty big reasons! The more you practice building the habit of gratitude, the easier it'll get, and the quicker you'll find yourself experiencing all the pleasures that life has to offer.
I use the term grateful a lot, and there's a reason why I say grateful instead of thankful. Being thankful is something you are when your grandma gives you a pair of socks on Christmas for the 20th time. Being grateful is spending every moment with your grandma on Christmas just because she's there, alive, and willing to spend the holiday with you.
To build a habit of extreme gratitude, try writing down ten reasons to be grateful, and repeat this process in your journal at least once a week, but preferably every day. And every time you repeat this process, try and think of ten new things. Don't just write down the same ten reasons every day. The whole purpose of this practice is to teach you to consistently look for new reasons to be grateful and to express your gratitude for those things in the given moment. Give it a shot and see what happens.
Why do we meditate? For some, it might be to gain better control over their emotions. For others, it might be to seek enlightenment. For me, and most, however, it is to understand the inner workings of the mind, and by doing so, gain better control over our emotions and even a sense of enlightenment in our own life. It all boils down to our thoughts and the way that we process those specific thoughts.
As I said initially, the way we perceive and process those perceptions determines the result (or final takeaway). Meditation teaches us to slow down and evaluate our thoughts without judgment, so we can determine which thoughts suit us and which ones do not.
A common misconception that I'd like to end right here and now is that you have to sit in a seated position for 30 minutes straight. That's not true. It doesn't matter how long you spend meditating. If you're new to the practice, I'd recommend starting with 5 minutes a day. Build the habit first, and then you can work on increasing the time limit (if that's what you want to do).
- To practice meditation, start in a seated position with your eyes open.
- Breathe in through the nose and out through your mouth. When you breathe in, feel the fresh air gently brush across the tip of your nose. When you breathe out, visualize the excess carbon leaving your body, as well as any unwanted stress or negative emotions.
- After a few breaths, gently close your eyes, and continue to focus on your breathing.
- At this point, you'll probably start to lose focus, being bombarded by your thoughts. That's good because it allows you to practice meditation. How? By returning to your breath.
Another common misconception that many of us have regarding meditation is that you have to block your thoughts. That's not true. The whole point of meditation is to identify when you get distracted by a thought - without being judgemental about it - and to return to the breath. It's that simple. It goes like this:
- Follow the breath
- Get lost in a thought
- Return to the breath
And there you have it! That's the gist. But as you continue to practice meditation, you'll find that you can go for longer periods of time before finding yourself caught in thought. And eventually, you might even go a whole session without a single reoccurring thought! A profound, tranquil feeling usually follows those specific sessions.
The four techniques that I use and recommend to understand better and sense control regarding your perceptions.
- Practice radical open-mindedness
- Practice self-reflection, and use a journal!
- Adopt a daily gratitude ritual
- Practice meditation
And remember, your life - in its entirety - is developed by your perceptions of your life and the events that take place. By gaining a better understanding of your perceptions, you can better understand and control your life.