Sometimes I can only see from one perspective. I have a belief and I think my way is the truth. But when I become open to shifting perspectives, I can be happier with where I’m at, without changing my outside circumstances.
For example, I thought the town I grew up close to was an ugly town. I don’t like the college associated with it, maybe because I went to its rival school or maybe I was just wearing the wrong color lenses growing up and made these judgements about it. Either way, it was a place I dreaded visiting and never hesitated to complain about.
How I Saw “Home”
When I tell people where I’m from, they have never heard of it unless I mention the nearby university, and then some of them are enthusiastic about it. They love those Purdue Boilermakers. My grandma even loves their sports, and took us to plenty of women’s basketball games when we were kids. But I just never understood what was so great about it.
I’m likely to roll my eyes and be like, yep, I’m from close to there just out in the middle of nowhere in the cornfields. No need to get excited about it. And if they apologetically tell me they’ve never been there, I say, “Don’t apologize, there’s no reason to go unless you want to see corn and beans.”
But over the past few months, I have spent “back home” I have found more and more to like about it. My perspective has changed a lot after 6 years of living abroad.
Feeling Stuck in Indiana
It was easy to see myself as “trapped” here when I had to leave my tropical home in Myanmar for Indiana due to the pandemic. We never predicted the length of time we would spend here, and it was easy to get caught up in the thoughts, ‘I don’t like it here. I never liked it here, that’s why I left. I just want to go back, When will I get back to Myanmar? ‘
But I didn’t want to put out all of that negative energy hating where I was at. So I decided to just be focused on the present moment and enjoy life as it is. I didn’t have any expectations for the place to change. But I made the decision (with the help of a skilled life coach) to change how I thought about it and reframe the situation.
I told myself things like, I’m glad I’m here. This is exactly where I’m meant to be. And when I started thinking about the things I hate about being here, I would shift my perspective to gratitude instead.
Sometimes my thoughts went something like this, “Ugh, the fruit here is terrible, in Myanmar we have the best fruit. But wait, I’m grateful that here I can read all the labels on the food I buy. I’m grateful there is food on the shelves, I can pay for it, and I can prepare healthy meals for myself. It’s all good. I am grateful for all that I have.”
When it comes to shifting perspectives, gratitude is usually my main tool. It’s so easy to access and available at all times. But I don’t create fake gratitude, so when it came to the city or town itself, that wasn’t as easy.
One day, on a walk, we found this beautiful little spot and I was struck with how my own perceptions had blocked me from enjoying this place for so many years.
I never sought out beauty in the area, and just chose to assume it was an ugly place. It really brought home the idea that what I focus on is what I see.
It was a nice little perspective shift to see my familiar surroundings from a different point of view.
I’m wondering what else I’m missing out on with my current viewpoint. What about you? Where would you like to shift your perspective?