How many times have we had an opinion on something, been convinced that we were right, only to have someone else turn up with previously unconsidered information or introduce a different viewpoint, thus prompting a whole new way of thinking? Being ready to listen to another perspective is important. It keeps our minds flexible and adaptable and is an important part of staying youthful and tolerant of what else is happening in the world.
When we share how we feel about something and discuss our approach we’re expanding all our minds. We’re giving an indication of how our thinking works, our perspective on life. Some people’s automatic default is negative. They’re convinced that things are bound to go wrong, seem to always anticipate the worst. Others think differently and are more positive and optimistic. Our outlook pre-determines how much we let external factors influence us. That’s why having a good perspective is so important.
– If we regard something as scary then we’re bound to behave in a more measured, cautious, apprehensive way. Feeling nervous or afraid can deter us from trying too hard. We protect ourselves by not stepping too far from our safe place. Yet we could instead treat setbacks as minor hurdles or learning points, which will often result in us hardly noticing them. We won’t think twice as our concentration flows into looking for options or solutions in order to keep going.
When we feel confident and hopeful about a situation we’re more relaxed and focussed on a positive outcome. There’s a saying that if you expect something to be good or bad, hard or easy, guess what – you’re right! We set in place a framework based on how we see things working out.
– Our mindset automatically seeps into our approach to life and influences how we handle relationships, what we expect from people, what we anticipate happening. That mindset then impacts on how others treat us. Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly said, ‘we teach people how to treat us’. Our expectations can alter the dynamics of a relationship. A winning philosophy generates the best chance of a good experience.
– If we’re feeling happy or sad, that too can colour our interpretation of a situation. For example, seeing several people we know chatting and laughing can be viewed in two completely different ways, dependent on how we’re feeling at the time. On a bad day we may be sensitive and feel uneasy, convinced that they’re talking and laughing about us. We may already be feeling embarrassed, unhappy and witnessing their laughter reinforces our already fragile mindset.
On a good day we may not even notice those people, or we may simply think that they’re having a pleasant time. Our perspective is influenced by our personal circumstances and inner dialogue. It affects how we interpret their behaviour. The right perspective makes all the difference and is a huge factor in how we then choose to respond.
– Taking time to ask questions, being genuinely interested in the answers and caring enough to try to understand what’s being said is also relevant in supporting us having a good perspective. Knowledge, interest, information and genuine discussion gives us a forum in which to explore other viewpoints and opinions. Mental growth occurs grow when we’re happy to respectfully question and understand other peoples’ attitudes, ideas and views. Patience and tolerance are part of this approach.
– Our background, parents and schooling, how we’ve been raised, all have a massive bearing on our perspective on life. We may have clear views, for example, on the role of men and women, what constitutes a good marriage, the importance of looks and material possessions. We may feel incredulous that other people have different viewpoints, that the things that matter to us are of little significance to them. Understanding or at least being able to respect and defend their right to their opinions is an important part of forming successful adult relationships.
– Communication should be a two-way activity and sharing our opinions helps us negotiate ways to comfortably live together, helps others understand where we’re coming from, why we feel the way we do and then perhaps be able to refine our perspectives. Just as we may feel strongly about how other people should behave, so others may also hold their own definite views, views that are diametrically opposed to ours.