“We have seen that how you perceive a problem, and by extension how you perceive the world, can have a profound influence over what you are capable of doing and how much you are capable of living.” – Jon Kabat Zinn
With healing comes profound transformation. It takes your divided perception of the world and radically transforms it to be one of wholeness and interconnectedness. It is a perceptual shift away from isolation and towards unity with oneself and others.
Often, when you contemplate healing it comes from a desire to cure a certain ailment or to remove a pain or to alleviate a suffering. However, it may be wiser to view healing as an acceptance of what is here.
Acceptance is not passive resignation. It does not require one to sit on the sidelines and watch the game of life as it passes you by.
No, it is far different.
Acceptance is bringing clarity to one’s life, rather than ignorance. It is allowing yourself to be comfortable with discomfort rather than always running for the exits every time it arises.
Blessed Macarius said, “This is the truth, if a monk regards contempt as praise, poverty as riches, and hunger as a feast, he will never die.” – Desert Fathers
The power of mindfulness is to become aware of your negative tendencies and to skillfully think differently by viewing crises and threats as challenges that lead to profound personal growth.
Although there are many strategies and methods for changing your perspective and living more fully, here are four that have significantly impacted my own life. I hope you find some clarity from them as well.
Optimism versus Pessimism
An optimist views bad events as momentary occurrences that will be resolved sometime in the future. They tend to see bad events as limited in time and in how pervasive the damage they will cause.
If you have ever dealt with anxiety or extreme stress, you can see how powerful a positive mindset could have on your experience. Instead of catastrophizing and contemplating worst-case scenarios, an optimist brings awareness to the situation and realizes the ephemeral nature of most things.
By switching to an optimistic outlook on your situation, you will open possibilities to new realities that you could never see with the cloudy judgment of a pessimist. Although pessimism may seem like a “logical” perception, it is not. And it will make you less happy and more stressed.
The next time you find yourself a bit overwhelmed, try expanding your awareness and letting in other possible meanings to the situation rather than catastrophic, life or death outcomes. You will find yourself in a place of deeper calm and clarity.
Build Your Self-Efficacy
Self-efficacy is a belief in your ability to exercise control over specific events in your life. For my brothers and sisters that may have struggled with some anxiety or are currently battling overwhelm, the idea of control may seem like a far off fantasy.
That’s the thing with anxiety. Although it is a natural mechanism trying to keep us from harm, when it’s chronic and working in overdrive, it can cause you to feel constantly out of control.
But…if you can increase your self-efficacy, proving to your brain that you have the power to exercise control in certain areas of your life, the anxiety will lessen.
More Confidence = Less Anxiety
Here are a couple of ways to increase self-efficacy:
- Do something every day that scares you
Self-efficacy increase when you have experiences of succeeding at something you feel is necessary. If you consistently practice facing little fears like asking an attractive mate for their company over a cup of coffee or telling your boss that you are going to head home at a reasonable hour this evening, you are building your self-efficacy.
Start small. Be consistent. And build the habit of resilience.
- Read / Watch Inspiring Content of Others
It took me over a year to start researching anxiety. I thought I was the only one who felt this way and that there was nothing out there that I could learn that would help my situation.
Man was I wrong. As soon as I started reading stories of others that had dealt with the same thing (for the past thousands of years) and had healed themselves, it immediately gave me confidence that I could do the same.
Inspiration doesn’t last, which is why you need a daily dose of it. But don’t let yourself only consume inspiration from others. Get out there and prove to yourself that you can do it as well.
The key is to have confidence in yourself and accept your discomfort without worrying that it is a bad sign, switching your focus to how this discomfort could be benefiting your life.
Develop a Hardy Attitude
In a study of individuals working in high-stress jobs, the scientists wanted to see what caused some to become sick and some to stay healthy. The key difference was what psychologists call hardiness. Hardiness is comprised of three characteristics:
- Control: A strong belief that you can make things happen
- Commitment: Being fully engaged in what you are doing
- Challenge: Seeing change as a natural occurrence that is there to help you grow
To me, this is the very basis of living mindfully. If you are able to develop these characteristics you will become more resilient to change and challenge. It can be hard, but through practice, you will begin to build the skill of hardiness.
The key is to realize that no matter who you are you have the power to change your life by changing your perception. It may take you a long time to develop these characteristics, but enjoy the journey and know that through the process you are being crafted into your true self.
Sense of Coherence
In several scientific studies of people who went through extremely stressful events, they found that what set apart the resilient ones from those who did not grow was an inherent sense of coherence about the world and themselves.
A sense of coherence is comprised of three parts:
- Comprehensibility: A strong feeling of confidence that you can make sense of your internal and external world.
- Manageability: Belief that you have the resources available to meet and manage the demands you encounter
- Meaningfulness: Belief that the trials in your life have meaning, which you can commit to solving
The Power of Mindfulness to Change Your Perception
According to Richard Dawson, in his book The Emotional Life of the Brain, an eight-week mindfulness based stress reduction courses was shown to increase levels of coherence and hardiness, while decreasing levels of stress.
Also, in another study, they found that the inability to be aware and express emotions was strongly linked to morality among patients with lung cancer. Although correlation does not mean causation, anyone would be blind not to see the importance of being aware of your emotions and learning how to express them effectively.
Mindfulness is more than a practice or a way to chill out; it is a way of being. It is a new way of seeing the world that creates an experience of deeper depth and authenticity.
By cultivating mindfulness, you will be able to develop a new perspective on your experience and the world around you, which will lead to a more fulfilling life.
The next time you find yourself stressed out, come back to this article and refresh yourself on developing these four new perceptions of your situation.
Are you ready to wake up, get more focused, and find more happiness in your life?
If so, sign up for my free 5 Day Mindfulness Email Course. I’ll be sending you an email every day that will help you reduce stress, increase focus, and find more happiness!
If you are ready to take back control of your life and start living above stress and overwhelm…