The Power of Perspective

Last night I went to see a viewing of Dead Poet’s Society in memory of Robin Williams. The showing was put on by Bedford Film Festival and hosted at The Pad – a great night.

The part which particularly resonated with me this time involves the Robin Williams character, Mr Keating, standing on the desk to get a different perspective of the world, and then encouraging the boys to do the same.

As it happens, this morning I was reading ‘Mindfulness – A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World’ by Mark Williams and Danny Penman (which I would thoroughly recommend). The opening quote was,

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking out new landscapes but in having new eyes – Marcel Proust

The chapter talks about how we often get a different view of a situation with some minor change in circumstance, and this can happen in seconds. The example they use is seeing a landscape in cloud and then in sunshine – this happens quickly and can transform our experience. In a similar way, our response to someone can transform from fearing them to feeling warmly towards them, by a simple change in expression from a frown to a smile.

Viewing people, places and situations in a different light or from a different perspective can happen quickly and it can also happen with the passing of time. Think of something that really bothered or upset you yesterday, and then imagine how you might view that same situation in a month’s time. The impact of even quite significant emotions changes over time, sometimes we even get to laugh about things which at the time made us cry.

Changing your perspective can transform your experience of life, and we can do this consciously, as well as subconsciously. We can do this as a result of a change in circumstance – response to a smile or the sun, or as a result of time passing. We can also do this by choosing to look at things from a different perspective, from a different point of view, from another person’s point of view, from a distance.

This is a powerful tool if we choose to use it, and one which is unique to humans. What’s bothering you today which you could choose to view differently?

Happiness Matters Ceilidh

Saturday March 22nd – band and dancing starts at 7.30pm 

Join local band, Bricks and Brussels, for an evening of dancing, laughter, learning and fun. No experience is necessary as there will be a caller to explain all the dances. If you have never been to a Ceilidh before, now’s your chance! Bar opens at 7.30pm.

Tickets  are £10 for adults and £5 for children under 14 and are available directly by clicking here to email Happiness Matters or from the Corn Exchange Box Office.

The Bedford Happiness Experience

Saturday 22nd March 2014 – FREE ADMISSION

Life is too short not to be happy, and yet many of us don’t give our happiness the attention it deserves.

The Bedford Happiness Experience brings together a wide range of happiness inducing activities for you to enjoy – music, poetry, mindfulness, games, laughter yoga, acts of kindness, gratitude, and even DIY!

For adults and children of all ages – come along to the Harpur Suite from 11am to 3pm and get into happiness action. No tickets required.

Smiling helps….

We all know that smiling is usually a result of feeling happy or good. What you might not know is that it can also work the other way round. Check out this item I found from the BBC:

It reminded me of the practice of ‘acting as if’. Rather than waiting to feel a particular way as a result of some future outcome, and it then affect our thoughts and thus our behaviour, we reverse the process. We can choose to act as if we feel that way already. We start with our behaviour which will affect our thoughts and our feelings.

You see this happening in the video – you smile, you think and feel you are happy. Simples.

This technique can be used for other emotions too. It may well be possible to affect your feeling of calmness by slowing down your actions, breathing and speech to act as if you are calm. Alternatively if you have to do something which you are not all that excited about, you could try getting physically excited about it and seeing how that change your feelings about it – jump around in an excited fashion like a small child, cheer, or do whatever you might do if you really were excited.

Sometimes I do this before a long run if I feel a bit sluggish – I do a few loud whoops while jumping around and punching the air in a Rocky style. Of course many people choose the Rocky theme tune as a backing track to their work out. It has very strong associations for anyone who knows the track and the film with energy, competitiveness, drive, passion, and commitment to success. When people hear that music it will often bring up those kinds of emotions and would likely make it a lot easier to ‘act as if’ they really want to do that 20 mile run in the snow (harsh personal experience talking there).

So if you can do something as simple as making yourself smile for a few minutes in a fake fashion (with or without a pencil in your mouth) to activate those all important facial muscles and give yourself a happiness boost, then why wouldn’t you?