How a simple change in perspective can make you happier

Gisa Ellis-Mawer
Gisa Ellis-Mawer
The Founder of Gisa Ellis Consulting

We all have ideas and expectations how things should map out in our life. However, reality does not always turn out that way, sometimes things even go polar opposite or total pear-shaped.

Bummer, who would have thought!

As our egos love to judge we are constantly labelling. For example, if things go our way we call it ‘good’ and if things don’t go our way we call it ‘bad’. As a result, whatever we label as ‘bad’ makes us disappointed and unhappy and vice versa.

The question is, how do we know that perceived fortune or misfortune is really ‘good’ or ‘bad’? For example, how many people have failed in business, only to learn from it and become a huge success later? Even Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates have failed at times, but they are still two of the most successful people in the world.

What if we adopted the attitude to give up resistance, go with the flow, accept what is, learn from our experiences, do our best and always keep a positive, forward thinking perspective? Would that not make us a lot more content and happy?

The prolific 20th Century English writer and speaker Alan White addressed this with the following beautiful parable of a Chinese Farmer:

Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbours came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.” The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.” The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbours then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.” The next day the conscription officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again, all the neighbours came around and said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, he said, “Maybe.”

The farmer steadfastly refrained from thinking of things in terms of gain or loss, advantage or disadvantage, because one never knows. In fact, we never really know whether an event is fortune or misfortune, we only know our ever-changing reactions to ever-changing events.

When we change our perspective, we change our response to any life situation and we increase our contentment and happiness. 

I would love to hear your thoughts! Gisa x

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