Have you ever been unable to understand how somebody couldn’t grasp such a simple idea? It’s infuriating! You’re explaining this so simply that they HAVE to understand your point of view. I mean, how could they not…you couldn’t possibly be wrong, right? Wrong. The way we see things, and the way we see the world is our perception of how we see the world. If you’ve ever talked politics with somebody who shares opposing points of views as you, you will completely understand this. (don’t worry, this isn’t a post about politics or my personal views.) It’s very difficult for us to see the world through someone else’s eyes because we haven’t experienced the same hardships and victories that they have. But how difficult is it to see the world differently through your own eyes? How do we change own perceptions? I recently shared a discussion about this with my wife when she was going through some difficult times. Our conversation went something like this:
R:” I’m scared. Yup. I’m overwhelmed, stressed, and scared.”
H:” of failing, or of the future?”
R:” Failing. And struggling.”
H:” Then don’t look at it as failure and struggle. Look at it as development and strive. If you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.”
The conversation continued forward from there with my wife telling me I was wise. The truth of the matter is, I think many of us have heard that phrase before. “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer. I first heard the phrase about 12 years ago. I was young then, only maybe 13 or 14 years old, and I thought I knew what it meant. I had no idea what it meant in reality. Not until the other day when I was talking to my wife. Because I realize that through all of my endeavors I had learned how to look at the world differently. Through all of the books I read, and the failure I’ve gone through, I don’t perceive challenges the same way. I look at failure as an opportunity to learn a better way of doing something. I see opposition as another way to look at an argument. I can see possibility through the smallest gap. I’ve been able to stop negativity from affecting me. I guess the point I’m trying to make is. The world isn’t against you. The world doesn’t give a shit if you succeed or fail, and you will fail. The world is only what your perception of it is. If all you see is a bleak future in a dead-end job, a boring life, and piles of debt. It’ll come true. If you see the world as immense opportunities, wonderful adventure, and amazing experiences…that will also come true. Success is your own perception of the world. If you want to change your life, change the way you look at your life.
“Humans see what they want to see.” – Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief
Learn to look at difficulties as opportunities and your life will change.
Have you ever put enormous amounts of work into a goal and had absolutely nothing to show for it? Sometimes effort can feel like running on a treadmill; you run for miles, and in the end, you’ve gone nowhere at all. Consider for a moment what the problem is when this happens. It’s not that your efforts have been lacking, you’re putting everything into this. It’s not that this is an impossible task, there are no limitations to what can be done. The problem, more likely than not, is your focus. I’m not saying that you’re not focusing on your work, but that the work you are doing is either so broad that it’s impossible to make headway or that where you are putting your efforts isn’t productive for the end result at all. Much like the sun, which requires focus to light a fire, you aren’t focusing on the most useful aspect of your work.
When I was younger my most hated chore was cleaning my room, my mother would yell at me to clean my room, and I would pick up random objects throughout the room and when she would check back an hour later, it would look like I hadn’t picked up anything at all. One day instead of just telling me to clean my room, she told me she wanted me to clean just a tiny three by three-foot square in the room. Since the area was so small I finished cleaning it and had it perfect in about five minutes at the most. She continued to tell me to clean small areas of my room until 30 minutes later, when the room was organized and, the entire floor was cleaned. As a reward for cleaning so quickly, she vacuumed the room for me (another chore I hated). Once I was told where to direct my focus, not only was I able to see my progress coming along quickly, I was able to finish in less time than it would take to even see progress at all.
There are two ways you can focus on productivity: you can knock out the hardest part of the project first (without side-tracking), or you can knock out the easiest (read fastest) part first to get progress you can see quickly when you first begin. When you focus on what matters most, without being distracted by minor details, you light a fire within yourself. Once you learn to change your focus, you begin to change how you handle situations in everyday life.
What do we pay for the lifestyle that we live from day to day? 40 hours a week, maybe even 70 or 80 if you have a demanding job. A couple thousand dollars for rent, wi-fi, food, and going out with friends a couple times a week. Waking up earlier than we’d like and going to bed exhausted just to wake up early again. Sound familiar? Maybe not all of it. Some people make their own hours and have a lot of control over their time. Some people have low demand jobs that leave them with plenty of energy to pursue other interests after a long day. Still some have fairly simple lifestyles that don’t require very much money at all so their money isn’t that important to them. I’ve discussed before on the power of focus, now where our focus is coming from, rather than where we’re directing it.
There are three different types of currency: Money, Time, and Energy. An example I’ve seen is that the ideal lifestyle would incorporate having all three simultaneously. When you’re young, you have energy, and time, but no money. As an adult, you have money, and energy, but no time. As a senior, you have Time and money, but no energy.
Many people look at their lifestyle from the viewpoint of money. You look for a better job, better pay, better benefits. What are you really getting out of it? More hours, more responsibility, less time with your family or friends, less job security. Ask yourself if this is actually life changing money? It’s probably not. Now ask yourself what life would look like if you started looking at it from a time perspective. Less hours, more time with friends and family, more time to pursue interests. What would it look like? How would it feel to only work a couple of hours a month? Tim Ferris covers this extensively in his book “4-Hour Work Week” which I have recommended on numerous occasions. If you change which currency you’re looking at your lifestyle from, life will show you the many ways that you can achieve that same or better lifestyle through those means. Most people only chase money because they’ve never realized they can chase their time and make it more valuable. I always like to keep in mind that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. This is true through many aspects of life and should be applied here. I hope you enjoy and begin to expand your context, changing your reality.
Have you ever told yourself that you couldn’t do something? We’re stuck within our context, not able to go beyond it and experience the endless possibilities that lay outside of it. In Robert Kiyosaki’s book “Retire Young, Retire Rich”, he describes our context as a drinking glass. Once we fill that drinking glass to the top, we can’t put anymore in, it begins to overflow. This is how our context is limiting us, once we’ve reached the limit of our context, or what we believe is possible, we’re unable to accept any more content. To increase our understanding, we need to maintain an open mind and replace our drinking glass with a pitcher. In this example we see how our own limitations, or glass, can hold us back from being able to get where we want to. If you wanted to become a marathon runner, but whenever you try to run you get tired after the first half a mile, we have a tendency to think that we can’t do it. Once you place that thought in your mind that you can’t do something, your limitations have already won. I want you to strike the words “I can’t” from your vocabulary. If you replace “I can’t” with “How can I?” you begin to see a possibility laid out before you. If you refuse to accept your limitations then you can always find a way to reach your desired destination. Life doesn’t have to be hard, the hardest thing in life is overcoming your own self-imposed limitations. Once you start asking yourself how you can, you find that doing is the easiest thing possible.
Change your reality. What if I told you that there is an entire world out there that exists around you…and you’re completely unaware of it. There is a level of understanding that is escaping your senses and evading your perception. Have you ever thought about the complexity of a complete stranger? Consider your life up to this moment. You’ve experienced joy, sadness, thrill, curiosity, tragedy, and a million other sensations. Thousands of emotions and realizations have led you to this exact moment. Now think about every person you pass on a daily basis, each one of them has shared the same things; joy, sadness, curiosity, tragedy, and yet they’re likely very different from yourself. Their reality is mostly different from your own. Now obviously, this isn’t some mind-blowing epiphany to you, or at least it shouldn’t be; but how different can we as humans really be? If you had the chance to see the world through somebody else’s eyes, do you think you would be able to understand it? I’d much rather see the world through somebody else’s thoughts. What makes one person smart and the other not? How does one man begin poor and turn rich, yet another starts rich and ends up poor? Why do some people have better posture than others? Why does a politician become corrupt? I’ve tried to answer some of these questions, and many more the last couple of years. The largest problem with trying to find answers is that more often than not you just end up finding more questions. During this journey, I hope to find some answers, and discover new questions. Every day I try to expand my context and change my own reality. So, what do I mean when I say expand my context. The dictionary definition of context is: The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms in which it can be fully understood. In other words, your context is what you are capable of understanding. If I told you that you could make $1 million this year, most of you would probably say that it is impossible, however, if you expand your context you can change your reality. Your thoughts become your reality. Your context is your thoughts. I look forward to exploring the minds and abilities of the rich, the genius, the humble, the arrogant, the charitable, the happy, and the insightful. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.