|Artichoke Flower // Personal Picture|
Here is the latest Food for Thought post, mainly focused on perspective and how changing our own view of the world can improve our situation and make us happier. My communications teacher used to say: it's like changing your camera lens - the situation itself doesn't change, but you approach it with a different angle.
On Raptitude - The Elegant Art of Not Giving A Shit
Not giving a shit sounds like apathy, but it’s not. It’s simply a refusal to waste your energy and time on thoughts you’re not going to act on. So when you do give a shit, make sure that the point of this shit-giving is to figure out what you’re actually going to do in response to what happened, and then move on to the action part.
In this article, David from Raptitude explains the importance of letting go of these things we replay over and over in our heads, despite the fact that they don't matter, when there is nothing we can do about them anyway.
I think it circles back to one of the Four Agreements: "Don't take it personally". After reading Raptitude's piece, I realized there are a lot of these things we "give a shit about", that really are taking personally something that has nothing to do with us. David's example of being called names while running is perfect: these people don't even know him, how can that insult be gainst him personally? It's probably a general hatred for runners on the insulter's part, which, no matter his reasons, is his problem and not the runners'.
I found that shifting our focus by not taking it personally are a great way to "not give a shit" about these trivial things we can replay in our heads afterwards. I remember, in the train, my seat neighbour laughing at me because I was taking a picture of my food. I didn't take it personally, she seemed to have a general opinion on young people and their phone addictions. Instead of taking it personally or "giving a shit", I laughed with her and explained I liked to take pictures of little ordinary moments to cultivate gratitude. Which actually started an interesting discussion between the two of us.
In any case, the elegant art of not giving a shit is a very interesting piece to read, as I feel we are cluttering our minds a lot with this little events we shouldn't care so much about. As long as you are happy with your own choices, there is no reason to be concerned with other people's opinion, especially when you know nothing about these folks, and when these opinions are expressed in a non constructive way.
On TED - Rory Sutherland: Perspective is Everything
In this talk, advertiser Rory Sutherland explains the importance of perspective - or how we perceive a situation or a product. This is related to what we call "perceived value" versus "actual value" in marketing. Basically, the idea is that we live, and accept, the very same situation in a very different way depending on how we perceive it.
Sometimes you just want to stand there silently, alone with your thoughts. Sometimes you just want to stand in the corner and stare out of the window. Now the problem is, when you can't smoke, if you stand and stare out of the window on your own, you're an antisocial, friendless idiot. If you stand and stare out of the window on your own with a cigarette, you're a fucking philosopher.
One interesting point he raises in this talk, is how the impression of control affects how we react to a certain (unpleasant) situation. For example, we'd be more willing to pay taxes if we knew (and ultimately, could choose) what that money would be used for. Another example he gives is pensioners versus unemployed people. The former chose to be idle, whereas the others are stuck unwillingly into that same situation.
Now how can we use this fact? Two things: as consumers, take a step back and realize that advertizers are creating a perspective for you. They are creating a "perceived value". Knowing about it can help dig beyond the brand image and find out if the actual value is worth the money you are about to pay for.
I have a perfect example for this. The other day, I was going to an organic store to find argan oil, as both my cuticle oil and night cream were depleted. There were two different bottles of argan oil in the store: one, simple, shelved along with essential oils as an "ingredient". The other one, from a fancy brand, sold as a natural anti-age product. The ingredients and size of both bottles was exactly the same (100% argan oil), but the "anti-age miracle" product was twice the price. Because when you slap "anti-age" on a product, it sounds more valuable, more intricate, the perceived value is higher.
The second thing we can use this perspective idea for, is to change our perspective on our current situation in order to be happier about it. It probably takes time, but changing your perspective on something you can't do anything about anyway helps accepting the situation, even see it in a better light. For example, instead of feeling underpaid, you can feel lucky to have a job. Which doesn't stop you from looking for another, better paid job, mind you. But it helps being happy with the current situation in the meantime.
Picture: A close-up of an insect on an Artichoke flower, in my mother's garden. Aren't the colours of nature beautiful?
That's it for the tenth Food for Thought post. I hope you like this series and its format with fewer links but explored deeper. Do you have any personal examples of improving your life by changing your perspective on things?