Elevate your perspective
Often times, we get caught up with what’s in front of us.
Chocolate cake = delicious, so you eat it.
Eating soothes your stress, so you eat.
That ad looks enticing, so you buy that ab roller.
That diet seems awesome, so you do it instead of what you’re doing now.
That new workout seems more fun than your current one, so you do that.
That new person seems more exciting than your current partner,
so you hook up with them.
And then 3 months later, it all ends the same way…
You have the same feelings about your new way of doing things as you did about your previous way of doing things.
Human nature has a way of doing this to us.
What served as an evolutionary advantage at one point of our development,
Has been blown out of proportion and manipulated by
Amazon same-day shipping,
New workouts and diets,
And other forms of instant gratification.
That’s the world we live in.
But, it’s hard to change if you’re not even aware of it.
So, reading this article is a great first step.
The next steps require some work,
But, it’s well worth it.
If I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s that consistency is king.
In your diet,
In your workouts,
In your finances,
In your relationships.
You need to show up,
And when you don’t feel like showing up,
You need to show up again.
And when you don’t feel like putting in any effort,
You need to put in some more effort.
It goes back to one of our favourite analogies of the Chinese Bamboo Tree.
The thing doesn’t grow for the first four years.
As in, it can have lots of water,
The best soil,
and you don’t see any growth in 4 years…
And then in the 5th year, it grows 90 feet.
But, that growth in the 5th year would not be possible without the consistency of the other 4.
So, when it comes to making changes in your life,
It’s all about elevating your perspective above the immediate,
Taking the long view,
And delaying short-term gratification in service of long-term happiness.
This article will show you how to do just that.
The three-step approach
Removing yourself from the immediate pleasures of the moment
and delaying instant gratification in the service of long-term happiness requires a few different steps.
First, you need to develop patience so you don’t react in the moment,
Then you need to find out who you are and what truly what makes you happy,
Then you need to elevate your perspective and take the long view.
1. Practice and develop patience
You’ll often hear that patience is a virtue…
And it is,
But it’s also a skill.
A skill that can be learned,
Practiced and improved.
As in, the more you practice patience,
The better you get at displaying patience.
Since you are aware of the immediate pleasures that can lure you in the moment,
For example, fancy new gear from Amazon,
That ad that keeps popping up on the side of your internet windows,
Or that double-chocolate fudge brownie,
Notice what you are feeling.
And once you notice that feeling, name that feeling.
For example, “I see that brownie and I want to eat it”
Then you wait.
Don’t give in to it.
Set a timer for 5 minutes and sit with the discomfort of the situation.
Continue to notice and name what you’re feeling as you do this.
2. Do some soul searching
What do you value?
How do you see yourself?
What are your priorities?
What does happiness actually look like to you?
Is it family?
Health and fitness?
For more on this, read here.
Once you have discovered these things, you can assess your actions in the moment against them.
Are your actions in the moment consistent with who you are deep-down,
What you believe in,
And what you want to accomplish?
3. Gain perspective
Now that you’ve noticed and named,
Sat with the discomfort,
and you know what you want,
you can gain some perspective on the things you do.
And make sure those things align with your vision,
With your values,
And with your real priorities in life.
Here are three strategies to do that:
A. Stephen Covey’s four quadrants
Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” is one of the personal development classics.
Much of what is written today is based on what Covey wrote in this book in 1989.
Habit number three is “Put first thing first”.
With this habit, you have an understanding of what matters most to you and you prioritize your actions accordingly.
Covey uses this matrix to describe priorities:
Urgent and important matters align with your vision and have a deadline.
So, do these things first.
For example, a project at work that can get you a promotion.
Not urgent and important matters align with your vision but do not have a deadline.
Schedule and plan for these tasks so they actually get done.
For example, working out and eating vegetables to prevent heart disease.
Urgent and not important matters have a deadline but don’t align with your vision.
Get other people to do these things if possible or just eliminate them altogether.
For example, taking advantage of a sale of a product online that expires in 2 hours.
Not urgent and not important matters don’t align with your vision and do not have a deadline.
Just eliminate these altogether.
For example, watching a show on Netflix that you don’t even really like.
B. Farsighted perspective
We can be quite short-sighted as humans.
As in whatever is right in front of us, seems most important.
To elevate your perspective, take the opposite approach.
Take the far-sighted perspective.
We use the 4D method.
First off, detach from the immediate emotions of the situation.
Notice and name works great here.
Next, dig deep into why you are experiencing this emotion.
Are you eating that brownie because you’re hungry?
Or are you eating it because you’re stressed out?
Are you actually mad about that thing your spouse said?
Or is it your own issues that are making you react this way?
Next, discover the negatives of your actions.
What could be an unintended result of this action?
How could this play out over time if you continued to act this way?
Finally, direct your actions to your long-term vision,
What are your urgent and important- and your important and not urgent actions that align with your beliefs,
And what truly most makes you happy?
Align your actions with these things.
C. The Regret minimization framework
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is the richest person in the world.
And although he has had some recent unfortunate events in his life,
He is quite wise.
When he was considering setting up Amazon back in the ’90s, he used a framework for making his decision that lends itself beautifully to gaining perspective.
He called it the “regret minimization framework”.
What he did was project to age 80 and then ask himself if starting the new company was right for him.
The truth is he was making a ton of money as a hedge fund manager and would have been fine, but he didn’t get caught in the short term.
He took a far-sighted perspective on an opportunity.
Decided it aligned with his vision for his life,
And took action on it.
Recognize that every distraction is a test,
Every chance to react in the moment is an opportunity to commit to your vision,
And long-term happiness.
You’re being tested to see if you’re willing to stay committed to the things you most believe in,
And the things you most want to do.
These things don’t come easy.
If it was easy, everyone would be happy,
And living their best life,
But we know that’s not true.
Often times, the people that are most successful in any area in life are the ones that stuck it out the longest.
And that requires systems and strategies to do so.
Use the strategies in this article to find true happiness in your life.