My mom liked to quote an idea attributed to Abraham Lincoln:
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
That quote always irritated me because I thought it meant lying to yourself about your feelings or denying the reality of your circumstances.
Now, I realize that the quote is actually about perspective.
Your ability to choose your perspective is a powerful source of your freedom and happiness. It determines the quality of your everyday life and directly affects your ability to create the life you want.
Last week, while I was driving with my dog Lucy, my car quit at a traffic light. I was kind of surprised that I didn’t react with worry about the cost of repair or irritation at the inconvenience. But by suspending judgment and accepting the situation, it kept me from going down the rabbit hole of negativity and allowed me to respond quickly to what needed to be done. After I turned on the hazard lights, I made a couple calls and carefully led Lucy across the street to a shady spot under a tree to wait.
I believed that whether the repair was simple or not, things would work out. (And it did; all my car needed was a sensor replaced.) Without all the added internal drama and judgment about the situation being “bad,” I was free to enjoy the moments with my sweet dog in the cool shade, sitting on the soft grass with golden, late-afternoon light all around us.
I was especially aware of how important moments with Lucy are to me, because we had been on our way home after her vet checked a lump on her side. Thankfully, it’s just a benign lipoma, but I knew it could have been much worse. I’m sure that helped me put the expense and potential demise of my old car in perspective. I like my car; I love my dog.
In my book, The Creative Heroine’s Path, I write about the importance of perspective. A key creative heroine perspective is that rather than being helpless in the face of your circumstances, you are a creator. It’s not about pretending you like the circumstances when you don’t. It’s about acknowledging that life is inherently creative, you are creating all the time—consciously or otherwise—and you have the power respond creatively to whatever life brings.
After you have your initial reaction, you are always free to choose your response. When life brings you a challenge, you can ask yourself, “What can I create from this?”