Relativity, M.C. Escher (1953)
Perspective is more than just a positive mental attitude
Which way is up? Although what we are looking at does not change, how we see it depends on our perspective. Our external circumstances often sway our thoughts and push us in a certain direction. Before you even realize it, you’re way over here and have lost all perspective. As I’ve often said to friends, “the more I think of myself, the more depressed I become.” Through self-suggestion and focusing on what we DON’T have or what’s bad in our lives, we sometimes cause ourselves unnecessary anxiety, worry, fear, even depression. The more we focus on ourselves, the more we can find or create things we’re unhappy with.
If you adjust your perspective to one of gratitude, even when it may seem difficult to find something to be thankful for, you affect yourself internally in a positive way and that manifests itself in a better attitude, less stress and worry, and an overall happier outlook on life despite external circumstances.
Attitude matters! It’s backed by science.
Dr. John Medina, in his book Brain Rules for Aging Well, says attitude and optimism impact everything. If you are a glass half empty person, you’re more apt to slip into clinical depression. When that happens, your immune system doesn’t work as well, and cortisol levels go way up. When your cortisol levels increase, you lose the ability to fight certain infectious diseases, your system’s defenses against cancer are less effective, and your cardiovascular health is more at risk. In short, when you look at things negatively, you’re directly negatively impacting your health and risking serious mental, emotional, and physical sickness.
Conversely, when you see things optimistically, your body produces more dopamine and dopamine is the stuff that gives us motivation and happiness. It’s the good stuff that leads us to a good life! Dr. Laura Kubzansky, professor of social and behavioral sciences at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, says that enthusiasm, hopefulness, and engagement in life all contribute to a lower risk of heart attack and stroke, so you can see there are many reasons to be positive and hopeful.
Change your perspective
Some are going through difficult circumstances and there’s no one right way to cope. According to author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, there are 5 stages of mourning: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, and each of us will spend time in one or all of those. All of us are unique and have our own way of mourning, but the quicker you move towards acceptance, the better you’ll be. In a recent focus group I attended, when asked what some ideas for stress relief are or refocusing on something positive instead of the very real challenges and difficulties you’re facing as a caregiver, some said meditation. Others said music, exercise, or time with a friend. Find something that’s appealing to you and force yourself to do it. Take time away from the task at hand.
Perspective is everything for her, Debra says. After limb amputation saved her physical life, perspective and gratitude saved her mind and soul. Despite losing her hands and legs, she sees life as a gift. There are so many things to be grateful for, she says, and perspective has made all the difference.
If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Raleigh, NC, call Griswold Home Care
and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (919) 229-8944