When you say, "Thanks, that gave me a new perspective," it's usually because something was causing you stress, someone gave you a different way to look at the problem, and it made you feel better.
If you're like most of us, you usually gain a new perspective because someone you know gives you some good counsel. But you can gain a new perspective deliberately on your own, and it will change your mood (and the way you handle the problem) just as well. Here are three ways to gain a new perspective:
1. Make a comparison reframe. My wife and I were in line at a grocery store, commenting on how busy it was, and grumbling about waiting in line. The man in front of us got to talking with us, and in the course of the conversation, he said he wished his wife were alive. My wife and I both made the same comparison reframe in our minds. All of a sudden waiting in a long line seemed so insignificant! Comparison reframes can give you a sudden and dramatic change in perspective. Find out how.
2. In your imagination, look at it from someone else's point of view. Who do you think might have a good perspective on your situation? It could be someone you know, or someone from history. Think of someone you admire. How do you think that person would look at this setback? How about Abraham Lincoln? Or Gandhi? Of course, you don't really know, but you can imagine it. This five-minute process can often completely change your perspective.
3. Set a goal that will change your perspective. For example, I once lost my job. The company went out of business. At first I was stunned, but my wife and I talked about it and decided we'd make sure we were glad this happened, which meant the next job had to be significantly better that the old job. I sat down and listed all the things I liked in the old job, all the things I didn't like, and all the things I wanted in my next job. Then I went after a job that would fit all those criteria. This goal changed my perspective on my new (and potentially stressful) circumstances. I found the job I was looking for. And we did, in fact, become genuinely glad the other company went out of business. A goal can change your perspective dramatically.
When you gain a new perspective, you feel better. And you respond differently to your circumstances because your response depends on how you're looking at it. Because of your lack of distress or panic, you'll make better decisions.
You can change a perspective right now. Think of something stressing you out, choose one of the three techniques above, and use it today. Mastery of perspective is an important skill in your ultimate goal of feeling good more often.
Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.