Change Your Perspective: Ask Not What Should I Do, But What Shouldn’t I Do

The best question you can ask yourself today is “what remarkably stupid things am I doing today to ruin my life?” Is that dramatic enough for you? Ruin is BIG word, but really we don’t fully understand the impact of our decisions until they’ve slapped us in the face. As I reflect on this question, it’s actually really simple for me to see that a simple change in my perspective can completely change myself.

This whole internal conversation was spurned by a consideration I had about what the difference is between perception and perspective. Perception is your interpretation of a situation. Whereas perspective is your view on a situation. Perspective is guided by your beliefs and attitudes and isn’t what you take away but rather what you bring to the table.

Consider what it takes to get motivated to accomplish your goals. Let’s use fitness as an example. You see that super fit, healthy image of a person that makes you feel a lot of different emotions. Perhaps, you see that image or person and think to yourself how badly you wish you could look that way. Maybe it evokes want, or guilt, or shame. Maybe it inspires you to go for a run or hit the gym. But, rarely are we thinking about that positive image when we’re in a compromising situation that we know will keep us from hitting our goals.

Instead, during those moments when we’re tempted by a donut or a big, unhealthy pizza that we know will just sabotage our diet, our will power crumbles. I don’t about you, but I don’t just carry magical motivation cues everywhere I go. Finding motivation in a time of what feels like crisis isn’t really my go-to. But, what if we were motivated by what we don’t want and our perspective is just skewed.

What if we saw these unhealthy habits and our view on it wasn’t that it was a delicious meal guaranteed to deliver a hit of endorphins and make my tastebuds explode with flavors? What if we thought instead that the pizza or donut is going to RUIN MY LIFE. How? Well, first it will clog my arteries or inject me huge increase in glucose levels. Then, I may get diabetes or start to gain fat around my belly that eventually causes a heart attack. That could lead to me in the hospital or maybe even premature death.

Ok, this is a very extreme example that doesn’t happen that fast usually, but let us for a moment think about how our brains are wired to think about the foods we eat in those moments. Shifting your perspective and asking yourself simply how you’re contributing to negativity or life-ruining consequences could save you from the rollercoaster of pleasure-seeking decisions that actually in the end do not provide you with any true value.

Sticking with the fitness example, now imagine looking at that desirable image of what you wish you looked like and thinking to yourself that it’s not too far off from reality. Your perspective shifts and now you’re not thinking about all the hard things you have to do to achieve that – lift weights, workout, eat healthy, but rather you are looking through a new lens of what you shouldn’t do. Suddenly, you’re making better decisions by recognizing that donuts are actually not all that good, pizza is kind of greasy and makes you feel bloated, sitting down all day makes you feel more tired, drinking a soda gets you all jittery and then makes you crash.

You simply asked yourself – what remarkably stupid things am I doing today that could ruin my life? Suddenly those things seem silly and unimportant. The best takeaway I had from reading that question to myself is that sometimes it’s just too hard to resist temptations thinking about the ways that I could make better decisions. But, when I look at it in terms of what stupid decisions I’m making and their consequences, it can be very eye opening and inspiring.

If you’re interested in exploring more on “changing your perspective”, check out this powerful other example.

I hope this helps you too! Share your thoughts in the comments or drop me a DM on Instagram @IntentlyAmy.

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