Have you ever been in a situation where you are upset and you knew exactly why you were upset? And then, at some point, you learn some new piece of information and a moment later, he felt completely different about the situation. How long does it take you to change your mind? How long does it take you to change how you felt? How long did it take you to change your perspective on the situation?
Change doesn’t have to take a long time. It can happen few moments. How long it takes you to get to that moment however is up to you. You have the power to choose whether that moment will be at the beginning or in an hour or in and day or in the year. For some people it can even take a lifetime.
Have there been times in your life when such a shift in perspective would have enabled move to forward, enabled you to accomplish a goal, allowed you to have what you really wanted?
There was once a client who is being coached. About 5 minutes into the conversation, the coach felt there was a shift that had occurred however the client continued to talk. At the end of the 45 minutes session, the shift officially occurred. Just before leaving, the coach asked the client when he felt the shift occur to which replied “about 5 minutes into session”. The coach then asked the client why he hadn’t said anything, why they had gone on for 40 minutes more. The client replied that he had felt it was too soon and that it should take longer.
Is it possible? Could it really be that we actually make our lives harder than it needs to be just because it’s simply what we’re used to?
So how do we create this shift in perspective? But what really depend on the situation wouldn’t it? Sometimes if you’re focused on the small details, you might need to step back and take a look at the big picture. On the other hand, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might need to break the big picture down into smaller more manageable chunks.
But how do we know, how to we recognize which strategy is appropriate or required for any given situation? The answer lies within our own feelings. Feelings are our guide in life and unfortunately many of us have been trained throughout our lives to ignore our feelings. Have you ever felt that your feelings just keep getting in the way? What I would like to do right now is to take a few minutes and offer you a fresh perspective on what feelings are, what they mean and how to use them so that the work for us instead of work against us.
Each of us has five basic feeling which include anger, fear, sadness, gladness and bodily feelings. However, like the colours of a rainbow, there are many possible combinations. For example, someone who is disappointed may be feeling both angry and sad at the same time. The issue gets even more complicate by the fact that we, as human beings, feel empathy for others and are subject to memes, which are viruses of the mind. Think of it as viral thoughts which get transmitted from one mind to another, sometimes even mutating along the way, like the old game of telephone. Memes are often passed down from one generation to the next, and can often survive for many generations. For example, there was a woman who would always cut both ends off of a ham before putting it in the oven. She never questioned why, only knowing that this was the way she was taught to cook a ham. Upon further research, it turned out that several generations back, one of her great grandmothers used to have an oven which was too small to cook a whole ham and so therefore simply cut the ends of the ham in order to make it fit. As a mother she taught this technique to her daughters. However at some point, the reason why this was being done was lost and for several generations, this was simply just generally accepted as the correct way to cook a ham. Which of your beliefs might be based on memes? When you start to question your beliefs, you start to own them.
Has anyone ever told you not to ask a question if you don’t want to hear the answer? Instead of avoiding a question, consider asking a better question. Your brain is constantly looking for answers and it will do its best to come up with the best answer it can. By asking better questions, your brain will automatically come up with better answers. Here are some excellent questions that will not only produce great results, but will actually affect how you feel.
I have a challenge for you. For the next 21 days, ask yourself the following questions every morning right after you wake up and write the answers down in a journal. After a week, you will start to notice a difference in how you think and feel, in essence how you perceive the world around you. If you like how you feel, don’t stop there. Study after study has shown that it takes three weeks of daily repetition to create a habit. I should warn you, after 21 days, you may not want to stop!
- What am I happy about in my life now?
- What am I excited about in my life now?
- What am I proud about in my life now?
- What am I grateful about in my life now?
- What am I enjoying most in my life right now?
- What am I committed to in my life right now?
- Who do I love? Who loves me?
Does this mean that I will always feel good? Of course not. However on those days when you are feeling down, you will be able to pull out your gratitude journal and read all of the wonderful reasons you get up every morning and the reason you continue to breathe every day.
Of course you need not limit yourself to the above list of questions.
If you are having problems with a relationship in your life, challenge yourself to write down three things you appreciate about this person and then share with them at least one thing you like or appreciate about them each day.
Can a bunch of questions really change your life? You bet! You can use this technique with just about any issues you run into throughout your day. And like any muscle in your body, the more you work on it, the stronger it will become. As it becomes stronger, it will also become easier.
Problems are nothing more than unanswered questions. They are an opportunity for you to take ownership of your feelings and an opportunity to learn. If you want a better solution, ask a better question. Here are a few more great questions you can use as you encounter challenges throughout your day:
- What is great about this problem?
- What is not perfect yet?
- What am I willing to do to make it the way I want it?
- What am I willing to no longer do in order to make it the way I want it?
- How can I enjoy the process while I do what is necessary to make it the way I want it?
I remember back when I was a kid. I hated tests. This was the time teachers made me look bad. In fact, I was sure the teachers didn’t only have it in for me but the whole class. Isn’t that what we are taught by society? Don’t fail the test! At least that is what I thought it was all about until the day when I experienced a shift and realized just how wrong I was. Start with the assumption that there is a reason we need to learn and understand the information being provided to us. After all, hindsight is 20/20 and if we knew then what we know now, we might have paid a little more attention in grade and high school. What if a test isn’t about establishing how much or how little we know but is rather simply a mechanism to let us know what we still need to learn? Once I adopted this new way of seeing tests, I started to love them. I no longer just wanted to know my mark. I couldn’t care less about the answers I got right. I was now more interested in finding out which ones I got wrong for these were the questions that were going to offer me the opportunity to learn.
It’s unfortunate that our education systems usually only allow a person one chance to get the right answer. What if your parents had told you that you would never be able to walk after the first time you fell as a toddler? What if someone told you that you would never get a job, the first time your job application was turned down?
It is estimated that about 80% of people never even try to follow their dreams. Einstein once noted that 80% of people who try fail not because they could not reach their goal, but because they quit not realizing just how close they were to actually succeeding. So it actually turns out that, of the 20% of the people who actually try, 20% of them will not give up until they actually reach their goal. Think about this. Do you need to be a genius or have unlimited resources? No. It turns out that to be part of this elite group of 4% of the population who succeeds, all you need to do is try and not give up.
Now I can tell, some of you are saying things like, well, how many times should I try to fly by jumping up into the air and falling down before I give up trying to fly? My answer is just once. But why are you assuming that you should give up? Remember what I said earlier, failure is just life’s way of presenting you with an opportunity to learn. Here is a great strategy for learning:
- Figure out your outcome. If you don’t know what your goal is, how will you know when you have achieved it?
- Develop a plan of action. Use the available information to develop a plan of action. This may include your own personal observations, but if you want to accomplish your goals even faster while avoiding time consuming mistakes, consider finding a mentor, someone who has already achieved the results you are after and model their success.
- Take action. A plan that is not followed by action is called an idea. Ideas don’t make things happen, actions do.
- Notice. What is working and what isn’t. There is no point in repeating the thing exactly the same way over and over again. Only change will produce different results. You either need to change something you are doing or change the circumstances in which you are doing it. Sometimes this may mean modifying your outcome. For example, many years ago, one of the scientist at 3M was working on developing a formula for a new superglue. As he worked, he found that one of his formulas for glue wasn’t very strong at all but remained tacky for a long time. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you have used sticky notes. Another similar story is research that was done for cardio-vascular ailments. The result failed to reach its goal but was subsequently sold as Viagra. Who says failure doesn’t lead to success? Some of the worst ideas turn out to be seeds for the best outcomes.
- Go back to step 2 until you have achieved your goal.
- Congratulations! It is very important to celebrate your successes in life. It’s nice to know you have achieved your goal but your brain runs on feelings and it needs to know it was worth it.
- No time to stop now. Go back to step 1 knowing that you are now part of the elite group of 4% of the population who is achieving their goals.