Is it possible a change of perspective could change your life?
I have a story to tell that might convince you.
I often work at a Starbucks near my house. I sit by the window and stare off into space, contemplating the nature of reality while sipping the dark roast. What can I say? I need the caffeine, and I need the time to sit and think.
I've written many times about the importance of setting expectations; at Starbucks, I expect a fine brew and reliable Internet. I expect to be able to work without interruptions. I expect to get some solitude before diving into work.
I have my days, though. I sometimes get into a mental fudge and battle the fatigue that comes from working too many long hours. The coffee helps. So does sitting by the window. Yet, there's a perspective in life that has helped me, one that's easy for anyone to model. It starts with an attitude about shifting your perspective and looking for a silver lining no matter what. You don't have to accept being stuck in a dead-end career that's going nowhere or a thought process that makes you angry and depressed. In fact, there is always something awesome you can embrace.
The problem is that you might not see it. You're living in a dark room with no light switch. Ironically, if you look hard enough, there's always something to challenge you, to fill you with hope, to lift your spirits in ways you never even expected before.
How do you find it? In most cases, you have to look a little harder. Hope is always available, always close at hand. Here's an example to explain what I mean.
Lately, I've been testing out commuter bikes for an article. For the past two weeks, I've biked about 5-6 miles into coffee shops and libraries in my area, but today I drove a car instead. Lame, right? I want to get healthy, so I decided to scope out bike trails in my area that make it easier to stay on my daily regimen.
Just today on Google Maps I discovered there's a sidewalk right next to the Starbucks, across from where Google probably dropped a fiber-optic cable and the city planted some shrubs. The sidewalk connects to what is called The Great Northern Trail, a five-mile bike path that runs over an old rail line and winds under a bridge.
In other words, I'm sitting next to the access point to an awesome bike trail. I never realized it before, because I get too focused on my laptop and the coffee. I never bothered to check Google Maps. It turns out I could connect up to the trail and bike all the way to my house. And so, I did. I drove home, grabbed my bike, and pedaled off. A gentle breeze filled my lungs. I had never connected the dots before, that the trail was so close to my house and so close to Starbucks. I never looked hard enough.
People tend to live this way. They don't realize something "awesome" is just outside of their window. In fact, I talked to someone recently who lives next to another bike trail in Minnesota that stretches about 20 miles. He said he had never heard about it before and had never used it. How is that even possible? How many of us don't look up and realize there is something "awesome" right next to us? We get trapped in our own mental cycles, spiraling into depression or hopelessness.
Here's another example. I'm also a hiker, and there's a hiking path near my house that takes a few twists and turns. Until recently, I avoided one sharp left turn that seems to stop right before a gentle incline. I've walked by that path countless times. It was always there, but I never took a step in that direction. The other day, I decided to see where it leads. It turns out, the path turns up toward a hill to a bench where you can see all the way to the next town. When I used the path recently, my wife yelled out and pointed to a five-foot bull-snake. It was awesome. I've never seen a snake that big in the wild before. It looked up, hissed at us and slithered away.
I didn't know about the path. If I had never stepped in that direction, I would have never found the bench and would have never seen the snake.
It may be a goofy movie with a goofy song, but having the attitude from The Lego Movie when they sing about how "everything is awesome" can change your life. It's all about your attitude. There will be times when you get stuck for sure. There will be feelings of hopelessness. But look around! "The sun will come up tomorrow" as they say. Shift your perspective and look for signs of hope.
Let's get really specific here. I will tell you that part of my great joy in riding a bike lately is that I've found ways to make it work smoothly. I'm using a bike called the Linus Avanti 2, which is designed for people like me who want to keep biking as simple as possible. It doesn't have brakes on the handlebars, and doesn't have a shifter. It shifts automatically and you brake by kicking back on the pedals. I use a Griffin mount for my iPhone and listen to music. I wear some Under Armor gear to stay warm, since I usually bike in the early morning. This all keeps me on the "path" to success. It's not a question of materialism. It's about making something work.
Will you follow along for the ride? Look for a similar bike, hook up your own phone, maybe even play the same songs? A shift in perspective sometimes takes work. You can decide to start something new, to close the laptop lid and embrace a new adventure right now. Awesome awaits. Let me know if you find it.