Alter Your Perspective; Alter Your Life

“Man does not simply exist,
but always decides what his existence will be,
and what he will become the next moment.”

– V. Frankel
Answer this question, what are the obstacles in your life, that if removed, could fundamentally change the way you live?  Common responses might include, “Impossible!”  “Which obstacle?”  or “Where do I begin?”  It’s nice to imagine a life with no obstacles, with everything going according to plan.  It’s also nice to imagine a tree that grows money, a fountain of youth and pots of gold at the end of every rainbow.  Truth be told, a life without obstacles is a life without challenge, and without challenge, life is reduced to days of drudgery.


At the same time we have those who view obstacles as opportunities.  Confronted with difficult situations or problems that seem insurmountable, these individuals turn challenges into triumphs, and then eagerly seek out another.  The United States Marines embrace this approach with their motto, “Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!”  What enables this?  Why is it that some permit their lives to be defined by limitations while others author their lives through possibilities?  It comes down to a simple idea; alter your perspective and you will alter your outcome.


Ancient Greek history shares the story of the Athenian General, Pericles, who soon after leaving port with 150 ships found his fleet cast into darkness by a solar eclipse.  This unexpected event created panic among the crew.  Pericles remained resolute.  He approached a lead steerman, covered the man’s eyes with his cloak and asked, “Are you frightened of what you see?”  The soldier answered, “No, of course not!”  Pericles then asked, “So what does it matter, when the cause of the darkness is different?”  In other words, it was not the darkness that created fear and panic among the crew, it was the perspective from which they viewed it.  Perspective is everything!


Our lives are no different, when obstacles and challenges are viewed through the perspective of limitations, we can be overwhelmed with fear and anxiety.  Fear serves to debilitate, distract and drain our energy.  As a result, the reasons we cannot accomplish a task or achieve a goal become our focus, thus rationalizing our inaction and eventual failure.  On the other hand, possibility thinking lends itself to analysis, evaluation and creativity.  When you break something into smaller pieces and look at it from a new perspective, it loses its power over you.


Our perspective becomes the foundation for the choices we make.  It frames our thoughts, decisions, actions and ultimately our sense of success and fulfillment.  It is our perspective that enables us to reframe a situation and see the inherent possibilities existing in the obstacle or challenge laid before us.  Hence, how we see our lives, becomes how we live our lives. 


What perspective do you carry with you?  How do you see the world; through the lenses of limitations or with the clarity of possibilities?  We find that for which we search.  Some might say that our perspective has been framed through our life experiences.  I believe the opposite, it has been my perspective that has framed the experiences in my life and enabled me to live a life of possibility.  In the words of Robert Frost, “That has made all the difference!”