Perspective and Health



You’ve felt it before, I know you have. You’re doing just fine. Sitting somewhere, minding your own business. When out of nowhere, things change. Sometimes it’s a phone call. You pick up and the person on the other line gives you some information. Maybe you’re at work and when you hang up, you’re distracted. Other times it’s a piece of mail. You open it while making lunch for the kids. You struggle to put the paper back in the envelope and shove it into a drawer before they see your expression of exasperation or frustration or confusion. Or you’re out to dinner and you run into someone. An old friend. Or someone who used to be close with your family…the family you haven’t spoken to in years.

Things happen. Life happens. You can be moving through events and projects and relationships very smoothly, until you’re not. Transitions happen. Death, illness, moving. Promotions, transfers, layoffs. An exciting new career, a new friendship, a new family member joining the tribe. These things can be seen as good or bad. And not just depending on the situation — but also depending on one’s perspective.

“Think positive” is a well-worn phrase that really tends to rub some folks the wrong way. And I can understand that. Maybe that’s not always possible. Sometimes you need to acknowledge that things aren’t positive. But how long you linger in the muck will most certainly have an affect on your health. While I rarely claim to “know” anything definitively, this is the closest I come to knowing something. If you could go back in time to one of those earlier scenes I described, how would you feel this stress affecting your physical body? A headache? Tension in your neck? What about a racing pulse? And how would you notice it affecting your mental health? A sad feeling? A nervous feeling? Fear creeping in?

Regardless of what you believe in terms of why things happen – – luck, fate, the choices we make, the direction of a higher power — your reactions to them, both in the immediate and over the long-term, will affect your health. That doesn’t mean that you should worry about your reactions before they happen, or that there is some “perfect” way to react to every situation. Perfection is overrated. I am writing this piece because sometimes we need reminders. In a world where we’re told on a daily basis by external forces that there’s a formula to success, and that there’s a never-ending list of things we need to buy in order to be happy, we sometimes forget that it’s not true. We sometimes forget that while none of us are in control of every aspect of our lives, all of us are in control of how we think. And sometimes, that can make a world of difference in the health our bodies experience.

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