I have been in spaces where diversity is celebrated for the past four years. At the African Leadership University, students from over 40 countries are represented, and at a company like Swiss Re, people with diverse skills, ages, and nationalities work together. In these spaces, I learned the importance of being open to new perspectives and views of life. People have different experiences that shape the way they think, and this mindset makes it easier to function in a diverse environment without conflict.
However, an even more important mindset is being conscious of how your perspectives shape your experiences. I can choose when to be with people and whether or not to listen to them. But, I am with myself at every moment, and I have to listen to myself. There is no escaping from myself. So, it’s essential to treat myself well.
Glennon Doyle coined the term “perspectacles” to talk about the importance of being able to see your life with new eyes sometimes.
“Your reality is as you perceive it to be. So, it is true that by altering this perception we can alter our reality.” — William Constantine.
Based on my interactions with my peers and a few professionals, here are three things I have learnt to mindfully tune my perspectives for rewarding experiences.
1. I ask myself, What value can this experience add?
“To succeed, you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you.” — Tony Dorsett
In different seasons of life, we need to do things that we might not like entirely, but they are essential to make progress. For me, there are some classes I would prefer not to attend. For some, it’s an entire job that feels draining. But, I ask myself, “What value can this class add?” Then I start to unravel the importance of this experience for myself. Although I know that I can read the course content online, if I miss a class, there is a high chance that the facilitator or a fellow student will share something new that I don’t know. Knowing this fuels my eagerness to participate in class because I want to learn more. To approach everything with enthusiasm, I need to make every experience personal. That way, I can appreciate the experience.
2. I realized that I need to Give all to get all
“Most people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be. “- — Abraham Lincoln
It is not enough to wear my new perspectacles. I need to invest in the decision I make. This point relates to how much I invest in lived experiences. So if I have gotten past convincing myself to go to class, then I decide to watch a movie while people are contributing in class. Why would I be expecting to leave class more educated? I am sure that no amount of magic will make that happen.
So, it is up to me to decide how much I am willing to get from my experience and make up my mind to invest adequately to achieve my goal.
3. I am careful about what people say around me
“If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles.” — Wayne Dyer
Just as much as the good things people say to me influence the way I think, so do the bad stuff. Naturally, if people do not think positively around me, I will struggle to tune my perspective for a better experience. Worse still, I might even change my positive perspectacles for downgrades from naysayers.
Value judgments about oneself are associated with judgments made about us by other people. It is essential to note “whose voice is around me?” and “whose voice I am listening to?”. It is my responsibility to discern when I am surrounded by expressions of negativity that may hinder my progress.
Just as I am able to welcome differing perspectives from other people, I can learn how to conceive different perspectives within myself as well. Ultimately, my perception of life becomes my reality.