Friday, July 24, 2009


Perspective is an amazing thing. My wife was having a conversation with our 7 year old son and 10 year old daughter as they were asking about the word "generations" and "centuries." She said that she and I were of one generation and the kids were another generation. But my daughter, Autumn, was born right before the century mark and Hunter was born in the next century. Hunter asked when she was born and she said 1969. He goes: "Wow. Did they have cars back then?" Nothing like kids to make you change your perspective on how old you feel...

It also reminded me about how powerful perspectives are in controlling our emotions. Since I mentioned in a recent blog that controlling our emotions is actually not that difficult, maybe we should talk about how:

Reality shaped by Perspective -> Emotions

I am in that camp that says that you cannot separate how you interact with reality without shaping it through your perspective. So you might as well take advantage of it!

Have you noticed that as soon as something changes your perspective on a circumstance, your emotions totally flip like someone turning a switch? I distinctly remember a situation when I was a newlywed and my wife went into the store to get a few things. She said she would be right out. Fifteen minutes later I was annoyed. Twenty minutes later I was working up what I was going to say because it was her fault that I was really worked up. When she finally got back into the car, I just let her have it, about how inconsiderate she was of me and my time. She started crying and pulled out the gift for me that she had spent a few extra minutes looking for. Oh boy. My perspective changed quickly about who was the jerk. I can also tell you that my mood didn't take more than an instant to change along with it.

It is easy to think that we are at the mercy of our emotions and that they are caused by events out of our control, but it's just not true. You are angry because of your perspective of what happened - and you are totally in control of it. Anger doesn't have to settle out slowly - you just want it to. Jealousy doesn't have to sit there squeezing your heart - your view of what is really good in life is letting it linger.

It is why questions such as:

How would this person that I admire handle this situation?


What would it be like if you knew this about the other person?

work so well because they are asking you to change your perspective.

I like the story of David and Goliath because while all the Israelites were focused on how big that spear was and how much it was going to hurt if they stepped out on the field, David was ranting about this Philistine loser who wasn't so big in the larger scheme, then he found the tools and skills that he could use and attacked the problem.

Be the person that focuses on the opportunities when everyone else is looking at the problem.

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crazykarl7 said...

Wow John, 20 minutes and you blow up.. you've mellowed in your old age. :-)

I agree with you about perspective.. my questions differ a little though. When I start to get worked up, I ask myself why.. and then I ask if it's important and/or stupid to get worked up about. If I conclude that it's stupid then I stop being angry.

Typically I'll get worked up and resolve things all on my own and then forget all about it. This annoys Shayna because she wants me to communicate the stuff that's irritating me to her.

Sometimes you just can't win.. :-)

crazykarl7 said...

Also, I don't feel old until they mention something that I am older than.. yes, I'm older than CDs, cell phones, and the internet.. *sigh*

John Vaught said...

Yeah, that might be dangerous telling your wife why she is being irritating...