We’ve all heard that our perspective, which is our outlook, slant, or point of view, is important when it comes to our happiness and success. It’s our perspective that acts as the lens to our view of the world around us as well as how we act and how we react to all that we see. All we need to do is look around and see how those with a positive perspective, who embrace life with passion and a desire to create and contribute-thrive. We also see that those with a negative perspective, who numbly get through their days often do little more than survive. Well, not only does our perspective create the life we live, it’s also one of the greatest contributors to a life filled with health and wellness or…illness and disease.
Two people can be in the exact same position and it’s their perspective that can create or compromise their health. For example, picture two people sitting in traffic. It’s the same situation for both but the way they each choose to view the situation can be entirely different. One person can be using the time to unwind, listen to music, listen to an audio book or learn something new through a recording or CD. Another person, in the same situation, becomes angry and frustrated, choosing to use that time to bang on the steering wheel and drown in a sea of stress induced hormones. While it’s the same situation for both, it’s the one who’s choosing a more positive perspective and reaction to the event that will enjoy greater health and wellness. Why?
Unmanaged, chronic stress coming from a negative perspective creates physical, mental, and emotional wear and tear. It’s hard to imagine because we relate something physical to a physical problem. For example, you stub your toe, it hurts. So how can a feeling or emotion (which is driven by our perspective) cause illness, even disease?
We have either positive or negative emotions and every emotion bathes the body in hormones and chemicals. Positive emotions such as feelings of love, joy and happiness, flood the body with “feel good” hormones and endorphins which nurture, heal and support the body (these are the same chemicals that are secreted during a “runner’s high.”) On the other hand, every negative emotion floods the body with stress hormones. These are the hormones that are ignited by the stress response, which is crucial to your survival but damaging when continuously released. This stress response, which we know as the “flight or fight” response, is what enables you to react quickly in order to get out of harms way. For example, if a car is coming towards you, it’s this magnificently designed response that enables you to quickly jump the curb to safety. It’s designed to keep you safe and works perfectly over the short term. When under chronic stress coming from a negative perspective however, this same system is ignited…and not turned off. This same system that’s designed to protect you over the short term is causing enormous wear and tear over the long term leading to symptoms, illnesses, conditions and disease.
Think about how your body reacts to feelings and emotions. You may become angry and your face reddens, you’re nervous and you get “butterflies”, you’re embarrassed and you blush, you’re upset and you may get a “sour stomach.” These are all physical responses to a feeling or emotion. They’re also single instances and we can immediately see a physical reaction take place. If the body reacts this way to a single incident, what happens when you’re under constant pressure, continually angry, frustrated, discouraged and upset? What happens when you add to this the stress and strain from trying to be a good partner, co-worker, employer/employee, parent, child, sibling, neighbor or friend? What happens when you continuously replay negatively charged events from long ago, hang onto past grudges and hurts, feel hopeless, helpless, pessimistic or frustrated with your business, your relationships…your life?
Stress causes aging, weight gain, illness and disease. It suppresses your immune system, making you more vulnerable to bacterial and viral invasion. Stress delays wound healing, affects every organ, system and every cell you have. Have you ever seen someone and thought, “Wow, they look like they’ve had a hard life” or noticed that they really haven’t aged well? The way they’ve handled their stress is written all over them.
Our bodies are billboards telling the world how we’re handling our stress. When we’re healthy internally (through a positive outlook and perspective) it will show itself externally through an energetic, vibrant, healthy and youthful body. When we’re unhealthy internally, it will show externally and our bodies will rat us out like a six year old telling on their sibling. Just look at someone’s face. Either laugh or frown lines will permanently etch themselves on someone’s face according to the facial expression they used most. Laugh lines or deeply burrowed frown lines-what do you see when you look in the mirror?
Nothing has meaning until the meaning we give it. What this means is that besides the two intrinsic fears we have of falling and loud noises, nothing is scary, threatening, upsetting or aggravating unless we decide it is. On the other hand, nothing is great, wonderful or terrific unless we decide it is either. What’s at the core of how we view things and the meaning we give to things? You guessed it, our perspective.
Our perspective is formed by our belief system, our environments, our relationships, our values, our upbringing and so much more. These variables come together and form a positive or negative perspective. It’s sort of like when we bake a cake. Put in a variety of different fresh, delicious ingredients that work well together and you’ll have a fabulous and positive outcome. Put in rotten eggs, stale flour and sour milk and it should be no surprise that you’ll get…exactly what you put in.
If we view situations and circumstances from a pessimistic and negative perspective our glass will always be half empty. If we choose to go the more positive, optimistic route, we’ll see that same glass as half full. The real beauty of this is that if we discover we lean towards a negative perspective, we’ve been thinking negatively or only seeing a half full glass, this is something we can change…if we choose.
Understanding that a positive perspective leads to a rewarding, fulfilling as well as a healthy life may just be the catalyst you need to change your perspective to enjoy these benefits. With this in mind, I’m going to fill my already half filled glass. You?