“We are convinced that there is really only one way of viewing the world – our way.”
Humans are deeply flawed creatures. With the apparent exception of monks and other wholly enlightened folk, nearly everyone subscribes to their own pick and mix selection of the Seven Deadly Sins. For many of us, though, perhaps our greatest flaw is a stubborn refusal to look at situations from a different perspective. We tend to believe that our perceptions are concrete, immutable and ineffable. In short, we are convinced that there is really only one way of viewing the world – our way.
In that way, are we not unlike the humble goldfish? These simple creatures have no concept of their watery abode. For the whole of their short lives, they are immersed in water, utterly surrounded by it, knowing no other way of life. Until, that is, some callous child or haphazard hooverer casts them from their bowl.
When something goes wrong in our lives – when we are upturned from our own metaphorical aquatic sanctuary – we are forced to reconcile our deeply held belief that a perfect, carefree life is ours by right, with any problems that look likely to contradict that. Deep down, we know that hardships are an inevitable fact of life, yet we still strive to minimise or eliminate our obligation to contend with them.
Thus, when any negative situation manifests itself, we respond in a correspondingly negative fashion.
Minor missteps, such as falling short of the monthly sales quota, can all too easily become blown out of proportion. To some, even getting caught in the rain or accidentally coming to the office in mismatched socks could be considered calamitous.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. We could make light of such occurrences, laughing at our wet clothes and mismatching setbacks. We could see every setback as an opportunity to grow and to learn. It was Thomas Edison who said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Not every situation, however, has a silver lining. In those instances where there is no apparent upside, we should seek solace in those areas of our life where we are truly blessed – health, family, friendships and a safe refuge at the end of the day. Sometimes, when your situation is hard to change, a reappraisal of your true state may show you the only change needed is a change of mind.