A matter of perspective

by Henrylito D. Tacio

 

We live in this world that is full of ego.  What matters is all about us, ourselves.  We are often, to our own thinking, correct.  What we do is correct.  We don’t care about others because they are wrong in the first place.  We see things from our own perspective – not from others.

 

How true indeed were the words of William James.  “The greatest discovery of my generation,” he once said, “is that man can alter his life simply by altering his attitude of mind.”

 

I was reminded of a story written by Valerie Cox.  It goes something like this: A woman was waiting at an airport one night.  With several long hours before her flight, she bought a book and a bag of cookies.  She then found a place where she could sit and do her reading.

 

She was engrossed in her book but noticed that the man beside her was grabbing some cookies “from the bag between.”  She tried to ignore the situation because she wanted to avoid making a scene.

 

The situation continued for some time.  As she read and munched her cookies, the man was continuing to eat the cookies, too.  She also continued to ignore him but she told herself, “If I wasn’t so nice, I’d blacken his eye!”

 

Then, finally, there was only one cookie left.  The man took the last cookie and broke it in half.  With a smile on his face, he offered her half and ate the other.  She took the other half and thought, “This guy has some nerve, and he’s also rude.  He didn’t even show any gratitude.”

 

Right there and then, she wanted to say something but her flight was called.  She gathered all her belongings and headed for the gate, refusing to look back at the “cookie thief.”  She boarded the plane and continued reading her book.   In the middle of the flight, she reached her back pack and “gasped with surprise.”  She found her bag of cookies inside it.

 

“If mine are here,” she said, “then the cookies we were eating were his and he tried to share them to me.”  It was too late to apologize.  She realized that she was the rude one and the thief.

 

Life is a matter of perspective.  We have to see things from different angles.  If someone has done something bad to you, try to see it from his point of view.  If you were in his place, will you do the same thing?  As they say, there are always two sides of a coin.

 

Success and failure go hand in hand.  You either win or lose.  But then again, it’s a matter of perspective whether you emerge a winner or a loser.  A winner is always part of the answer while the loser is always a part of the problem.  The winner has a program but the loser has always an excuse.  The winner says, “Let me do it for you.”  The loser complains, “That’s not my job.”

 

The winner sees an answer for every problem while the loser sees a problem in every answer.  The winner sees a green near every sand trap but the loser sees two or three sand traps near every green.  The winner says, “It may be difficult but it’s possible.”  The loser dismisses it this way: “It may be possible but it’s too difficult.”  Which perspective do you usually follow?

 

Think positively, Norman Vincent Peale suggests.  The Daily Motivator urges: “Use your energy and your time where they can make the biggest positive difference. Being positive is more than just repeating happy phrases. Being positive means living positive. Being positive means seeing the possibilities for improvement and advancement in every situation, and acting on them.”

 

There’s more: “Being positive means doing what is necessary and right even if it is not easy or popular. Positive values are more than just platitudes. Sincere positive values result in effective positive actions. And those actions will bring real, lasting and substantial achievement.”

 

But oftentimes, people choose to think negatively.  Two buckets met at the well.  One of them looked morose.  “What’s the trouble?” asked the second bucket sympathetically.  “Oh,” replied the first, gloomy bucket, “I get so weary of being dragged to this well.  No matter how full I am, I always come back here empty.”

 

The second bucket laughed.  “How curious!  Why, I always come here empty and go away full.  I’m sure if you started to think that way, you would feel much more cheerful.”

 

That is what optimism is all about.  The Daily Motivator suggests, “Rather than lamenting what you do not have, make the most of what you do have. Rather than being stopped by what you cannot do, move forward by doing what you can do. Instead of agonizing over the past or worrying about the future, make sure that right now you are the very best you can be.”

 

It was during the war and the Army was drafting young me by the thousands.  A simple farmer boy walked down the street right in front of the draft board office.  A neighbor told him, “You better stay away; you might get drafted into the army.”

 

The boy, who had actually not even heard of the war, did not understand what it was all about.   So the neighbor explained the situation.  But the boy answered, with these words:

 

“Well, I always figure that I have two chances: I might get drafted – and I might not.  And even if I’m drafted, I still have two chances: I might pass and I might not.  And if I pass, I still have two chances: I might go overseas or I might not.  And even if I go across, I still have two chances: I might get shot – and I might not.  And even if I got shot, I still have two chances: I might die – and I might not.  And even if I die, I still have to chances…”

 

Carlos Castaneda said it right: “Things don’t change.  You change your way of looking, that’s all.”

 

For comments, write me at henrytacio@gmail.com

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