Perspective and Perceptions

April 26, 2021

I was catching up with an old friend recently, and I could tell that he wasn’t as enthusiastic as he usually is. I mentioned that he sounded a bit down in the dumps, and he shrugged it off. I didn’t want to press the issue and be invasive, so I let it go and changed the subject. I thought if he wanted to talk about it, he would, in his own time.

Sure enough, he soon began to open up. He had an issue at work with his boss that he needed to resolve, and it weighed on him. As he shared the circumstances, it was clear that it wasn’t a significant issue and could be solved, but it was something that he would rather not have to deal with.

As the conversation continued to flow, he began to talk about his current relationship. He had been divorced years earlier and was in a long-term relationship with a wonderful woman who seemed, from afar, to be a perfect match. He began to discuss a litany of issues but readily acknowledged that most of his complaints were not that big a deal.

Finally, he began to talk about all the things that he needed to fix in his home and how much money it would cost. As he went through the list, it was clear that most of what he described were regular maintenance items with no major repairs required. I shared that he was lucky he didn’t have more serious issues, and most of what he explained were ordinary things that homeowners had to deal with. He capped our chat with a statement about how tough things were going for him right now.

LIFE is Tough

I realized that my buddy was dealing with the sometimes-dirty little four-letter word, LIFE, and had temporarily lost perspective. It was time to fly to the rescue and change his perception. I began by understanding and acknowledging his current situation and his spirits. LIFE for all of us, at the moment, is what we perceive it to be, and I didn’t want to challenge him or minimize what he was truly feeling.

I then jokingly mentioned that he shouldn’t be worried about fixing the house for a guy as rich as he was. The comment momentarily threw him off as I quickly followed up with a statistic that surprises most folks but was reported by Foreign Policy magazine a few years ago. To be in the top 1% of wage earners globally, you only need to make about $34,000 a year. Of course, that includes the billions of folks in third-world countries that may only make hundreds of dollars a year, but it can cause one to pause and consider that fact.

LIFE Gets Us All

I casually began to discuss how LIFE has a way of affecting us all and added that even power and wealth couldn’t shield us. I recalled how all our recent presidents had tough days; Clinton got impeached, Bush had 9/11, Obama had the Great Recession, and Trump got impeached twice and didn’t get reelected! Even Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest guy in the world, was caught in a very embarrassing affair that resulted in his divorce and $38 billion to his ex-wife, Mackenzie Scott.

The conversation continued as we both reflected on things that had seemed important at the time but weren’t that big a deal. By the end of our call, my buddy was feeling decidedly more upbeat. He said, “You know, sometimes we allow ourselves to get caught up in minutia. We should do a better job of keeping things in perspective.” I said, “Yeah, you are right. Thanks for that wise advice. It’s something we all should do.”

A Quote To Consider!

“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.” 

 ― Stephen R. Covey