Featured in

Featured in: Tiny Buddha, Halifax Media Coop, Fine Fit Day, Simplify the Season, La Presse, Filles, Le Canada-Français

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mindfulness - Perspective

 NancyNance, Flickr

When stuck in a rut, having a hard time experiencing gratitude, unable to find clear answers to our questions, confused about what should take priority in our lives, a simple change in perspective can help.

It struck me as I was sitting in a corner of the house I almost never "visit", on a chair I almost never use. From that standpoint, I had a completely different view of the room and of the garden outside the window. It wasn't anything I hadn't seen before, but the angle was new. It wasn't any better than my usual view, and it wasn't particularly exciting, but somehow it made me feel refreshed and serene.

Opportunities to "refresh and reframe" are everywhere if we are willing to get out of our comfort zone, or simply to slow down and notice. Trying something different and new can work wonders. So does taking the time to actually feel what is going on inside and outside of ourselves. For example, lately I have been allowing myself to stop and observe nature. If there is a pleasant sight, sound or smell, instead of going on with my day, I fully immerse myself in it, for as long as it takes to reach a state of inner joy.

In the past few weeks I had many other opportunities to reframe, ranging from the very mundane to the very distressing, and everything in between. For example:

  • The various house and car problems I mentioned in my last post, which entailed both hassle and expenses.
  • Being stuck on the tarmac for 2 hours waiting for the plane to be refuelled before take-off... and then experiencing a rather bumpy flight that left me with sweaty palms, numb fingertips and other manifestations of a fight or flight response.
  • Learning about friends' financial and/or relationship and/or health-related problems.

All those issues helped me put other issues into perspective - suddenly it didn't matter so much if a huge pile of laundry was accumulating, or that I hadn't found the time to practice my guitar, or even that my career was kind of stalled. More urgent issues, or bigger problems, were happening around me, and all my attention was on them.

But the most important - and awakening - event was the passing of my maternal grandmother. Because she was old (98 years minus 2 days to be exact), one could assume that it was easy to accept. But it wasn't. As I said to a cousin who came to the funeral, "You're never ready to lose someone you love". It didn't matter how old she was - she was amazing, and I will miss her tremendously. 

This event forced me into a new perspective - when a loved one dies, what matters more than your sorrow? Other sources of negative emotions suddenly seemed so trivial. I had no time or energy to sweat the small stuff. What mattered was to be around friends and family, and to fully appreciate their presence. My grandmother would have approved of this reframing - if I had to list her best qualities, the number one would be her bright outlook on life. She found the positive in every situation, and got back on her feet after each setback.

I know that I will keep learning from her even if she isn't here anymore. Her unique perspective will stay with me and with everyone who had the chance to know her.

Mindfulness this Week

What event(s) have changed your perspective? Was it a good or a bad thing?

Be part of the process: 

Submit your comments below

Become a follower of the blog/subscribe by email (top left corner of this page)


  1. I was feeling dispirited and a little tetchy after a staff meeting recently. Initially I put it down to tiredness and a heavy workload. Later I realised it was more because my team were really stepping up to a challenge I had given them, bringing enthusiasm and great ideas to the table which has has always been my role, and has always been an asset I bring to the team. I recognised this made me feel a bit like a sort of shift had occurred within the team which I did not feel comfortable with at first. Then I realised that this was one of the outcomes I had been working toward with my team and it is something to celebrate and feel good about. So I guess it was analysing my feelings and reactions that brought about my change in perspective, and yes it was a good thing.

    1. That is a fantastic example of mindful exploration of one's emotions!

  2. Very sorry about your losing your grandmother, Julie. You were very lucky to have had a wonderful person like her in your life for so long. I'm sure she was always very proud of having you as her granddaughter.

    I totally agree with the importance of a good perspective on a situation. I might add, if it's hard for you to do that, seek a friend or a professional who will be more than happy to help you see a more useful perspective.

    1. You are right, in some cases (many), the help from another, friend, family or pro, can make a huge difference!

  3. I"m sorry about your grandmother, truly. My perspective though, is that it wasn't a child's funeral you attended. I think of this often these days, as 2 young people I'm aware of had to be let go this past year.

    No, you're never prepared to lose someone you love. However, at your deepest level you know it will happen. When my friend Tamara's 13 year old daughter died last fall, nobody expected it. That day changed my life forever, and I think of Clara every single day of my life.

    "Being pressured at work" I told a friend recently, "Isn't a nightmare. Finding out your kid is dead, is."

    Anyway, long day for me here, so sorry if I sound grumpy. I am blessed. I am lucky. I am at peace.

    1. Thank you, Roy. You are right, it is not in the "normal course of events" for a younger person to die. I am so sorry for your friend's loss.