If you want to increase your happiness, you must change your perspective. Let me share with you a simple example of how a change in perspective immediately boosted my happiness.
When an ambulance zooms by, sirens blazing, do you feel happy or sad? For the longest time, I felt sad. I’d imagine someone convulsing on their rickety living room floor due to a heart attack. I shared my feelings with my girlfriend at the time over brunch and she told me she actually felt happy hearing the sirens! WTF! No wonder why we broke up!
She explained, “Instead of thinking about someone suffering every time you hear an ambulance, think about how awesome it is someone is about to get help.”
Ah, so wise. Nowadays, every time I hear a firetruck or ambulance, I’m thinking, “go baby, go!” I feel proud of the service women and men who’ve dedicated their lives to helping others.
Examples Of How You Can Change Your Perspective For Greater Happiness
1) What’s Left Of These Old Fingers
It occurred to me as I reach mid-life crisis mode that I’m not sure how many articles are left in these slowly ossifying fingers. So far they’ve produced 1,278 articles. Perhaps they’ve got a thousand left to go before they completely shut down. My hope is that by the time I can no longer type, they’ll have created voice dictation software so great that speaking will work just as well as typing.
Although it’s sad to think my writing career is more than half over, I’m glad that when that day comes, I’ll be able to spend days reading through the archives and reminiscing about a life gone by. Further, these posts will forever be archived on the internet, potentially helping people achieve financial freedom sooner for decades and beyond.
Although thinking about how much energy I have left is a little sad, I’ve changed my perspective after having kids in 2017 and 2019. Now, I’m super-motivated to keep on writing for their sake just in case I die young. I want my kids to know me better and know how hard I tried for them.
In 2021, I’ve now written 1,900 posts and over 500 pages. Let’s rock!
2) Coming Back From A Trip
The anticipation of going on a trip is often just as exciting as the trip itself. When you’re finally on your trip, especially if the trip is amazing, you start counting down the days until you must leave.
“Back to the salt mines!” I often joke on the last day. But before heading back to San Francisco from my trip to Hawaii in July, I changed my perspective.
There are no salt mines in San Francisco. Instead, San Francisco is a place where millions of people go to visit every year due to its natural beauty, temperate weather, amazing food, and rich culture. San Francisco is where Hawaiians go to vacation!
I told my business partner on our last evening walk on the beach, “I’m excited to go on an extended vacation back to San Francisco. Maybe this time we’ll stay for a couple months before heading up to Lake Tahoe for our next business retreat.”
Related: Why Start A Business? To Create A Better Life Of Course!
3) This Old Car
While in Hawaii, I drove around in my father’s 1998 Toyota Avalon. It doesn’t have a sound system, Bluetooth, USB chargers, back up cameras, tinted windows, or paddle shifters. But it worked just fine. The engine climbed up the hills with ease. The seats were wide. And it was nice not having to worry about it getting scratched.
When I got back to San Francisco, I realized how awesome my 2015 Honda Fit truly is. It has a beefier steering wheel, tinted windows, double cameras, Bluetooth, USB chargers, and more. It even still rocks the new car smell.
Screw buying a fancy car before my lease is up in September 2017. I was reminded that I’m already driving my dream city car.
Change your perspective. If you do, you’ll boost your happiness and appreciate more of the things you have.
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4) Traffic Jams
About once a week, I play tennis with a buddy of mine at 8:30am before he has to go to work. It’s the worst time possible because every knuckle head is on the road then. My drive to the club, which normally only takes 12-15 minutes, goes up to 25-30 minutes.
I used to get pissed off sitting in traffic wondering why people act like sheep and subject themselves to torture. Why not just get to work by 7am and leave by 4pm or get to work at 10am and leave later instead? So much easier! It’s the same idea as going to lunch at 11am or 1:30pm to avoid the crazy lines.
Then I had a change of perspective.
Now every time I’m stuck in traffic I think to myself, this is so awesome! More traffic means more employed people. More employed people means more corporate profits. More corporate profits means higher dividends and higher earnings, both of which are wonderful for investors. Given I’m also a landlord, more people is also great for occupancy and rent.
Very few things feel better than having your money work for you so you don’t have to. Experiencing traffic jams for 30 minutes a week helps give me confidence the local economy is strong.
Related: Investment Strategies For Retirement Based On Modern Portfolio Theory
5) The PITA Contractor
Seven months after putting down my initial $500 deposit to build a deck, throw up a retaining wall, and install a new sliding door, my project is finally done! There were so many times I wanted to curse at him for disappearing for weeks on end. But after talking to more people about my project and publishing the post, Practice Taking Profits To Pay For A Better Life, so many people told me they couldn’t even find a contractor! Instead of being annoyed, I should be thankful for just having one due to the massive demand.
Getting ignored no longer bothered me as much anymore. Instead of writing something nasty to my contractor, I started writing in a more friendly and encouraging tone. I then baked a giant carrot cake by telling him that if he did a good job with my project, I’d introduce him to other people with much larger projects. My contractor started getting more responsive as a result.
Not only is my project done, my contractor also said he’d “take care of me” if one of my referrals came through, whatever that means. I don’t want his money. I just want him to do things to my house I cannot do in a timely manner. I’m excited to publish a new post with my finished deck!
Related: Why Home Remodeling Always Takes Longer And Costs More Than You Think
6) Not Getting Paid Or Promoted
After being a Director for four years (one up from VP in finance) I was hoping to get promoted to Managing Director. I was a strong revenue generator and loyal soldier for 10 years already. But due to corporate politics and a difficult economic environment back in 2011, I didn’t ascend. The equities division needed to subsidize the money-losing fixed income division.
Although disappointed, I used the lack of a promotion as a signal to CHANGE MY LIFE. Logically I thought, if I was so amazing, I would have been promoted. Therefore, I’m not that amazing so it’s time to move on! I was bored of doing the same thing for so many years. I had already started questioning whether this was all there was to life. Instead of being delusional about my abilities as a corporate employee, I found a way to leave with a severance package the very next year to go on a new adventure.
There’s not one day that goes by where I wish I had stayed in the finance industry. If I got promoted to MD, I’d still be doing the same old thing today. I would never be able to break free and fully exercise my dream of being an entrepreneur.
Money Never Sleeps, Why Should You?
Develop A Strong Money Mindset To Get Rich
Feeling sorry for our first world problems isn’t going to bring us any happiness. There’s always a positive in every negative situation. Go find it. Change your perspective to things in a more positive light.
And if you really can’t find the positive just remember we’ve got endless food to eat while nearly 800 million people in the world go hungry every night. Maybe then, we’ll stop taking our good fortune for granted.
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I have coached high school students from asian families who were rebelling against there family by doing track. Crazy! One girl’s parents refused to buy her properly fitted shoes so we bought some for her.
While being well off financially by becoming a professional athlete is a long shot for most people don’t forget that being an athlete can pay for college! My spouse came from a single/teen mom family. Mom paying for college was not an option. But by being a talented athlete he was able to pay for college and living expenses at a good university. And being realistic/wise used this great opportunity to major in engineering.
ZJ Thorne says
Perspective is everything! I recently spent a few hundred dollars more than normal on healthcare. Most of the tests turned out negative. I still have to pay for them, naturally. I’m excited that we have ruled out some possibilities. I’m also excited that I am finally financially fit enough that I am seeking out the medical answers. It is taking some money away from debt reduction, but pain reduction is a worthy goal and I’m excited that some of the steps are working.
Financial Samurai says
Nothing is more important than our health. I’m glad whatever it is you tested for is negative. Once our health is gone, life is so much worse. Even spraining an ankle badly for me last week was very sobering. No more hikes, no more tennis. Just pushups and situps and typing all day long.
Mustard Seed Money says
This is really great perspective. I think too often we look internally at our immediate needs/wants and can’t see the bigger picture.
It took my wife and I 18 months to get pregnant, however this was a blessing in disguise. We were able to travel all around the world during our first three years of marriage and now that we have a child, we know we wouldn’t be able to have that type of freedom to travel again.
Financial Samurai says
That’s a great outlook! And I’m very happy for you two! There’s a lot of benefits of being an older parent. It might even be better, especially if you know it you will live longer. Maybe less divorce, and less stress Since finances are better settled and we’re more mature.
Graham @ Reverse The Crush says
This is a great reminder!
Perspective is really important because being happy is more about building habits and having the right attitude. And to be honest, I should be a lot more grateful. As long as you have health, food, and shelter there’s really nothing to complain about. When my own (first world personal struggles) get in the way, I try to remind myself that some people don’t even have shelter to go home to. Some are ill with a life threatening disease. There are so many worse things in life than the petty things most of us worry about.
Also, I found it funny that you’re already thinking of voice dictation software because I’ve thought about that too. I more recently started to experience some wrist pain from using my laptop too much and had to start using a mouse. That alone made me realize that one day I’m not going to be able to do this. I’m only 30 and still got a long way to go, but the idea has crossed my mind.
Thanks for sharing the reminder, Sam. It’s a great way to start off the week.
Ms. Conviviality says
I work in a small office with 11 co-workers. It used to bother me that everyone else in my office lived on the wealthier northwest side of town while I was the only one living in the poor southeast side of town. It wasn’t until my co-workers started to complain about rush hour traffic, higher property taxes, and association fees that I began to appreciate living where I do. Since most people on my side of town don’t commute into the city for work I don’t have traffic issues and I live in a house on 3.5 acres surrounded by beautiful oak trees in an area I feel safe in. I feel like I’ve stumbled on the town’s best kept secret.
Middle Class Millionaire says
Great article on perspective! There are always more than 1 way to look at things, and often we actually do have things a lot better off than we think. Similar to the glass half empty or half full saying.
“..When I got back to San Francisco, I realized how awesome my 2015 Honda Fit truly is. It has a beefier steering wheel, tinted windows, double cameras, Bluetooth, USB chargers, and more. It even still rocks the new car smell…”
I drive a 2013 Toyota Prius C and I absolutely love it! Although not the fastest car, it does feel quite sporty. I only have to fill up once every two weeks or so and when I do it’s only like $25. I am totally with you on that Sam!
The things you own eventually begin to own you. No attachments, total freedom.
If you can live without all of your assets, and still be happy, you’re free.
This isn’t to say you can’t have nice things. This is to say your happiness should not depend on them.
If happiness is generated outside you, that means an external force controls your happiness. More control in your life, the better. Look at entrepreneurship. it’s more control where in a job, you have less.
Manage your feelings internally. Never be negative, or pessimistic. These things matter.
I was walking to work last week tired and stressed about the day ahead. My work is on the Embarcadero by the Bay Bridge. When I walked right by the bridge, I smiled when I realized that I live in a city where people travel all around the world to visit. It always helps me to take a step back and appreciate the life I have and the city I live in.
Love all your articles, thanks for posting!
Absolutely agree Sam!
Here in the USA we are much more fortunate than most around the rest of the world, but some are struggling here too and that will change for the better :) (positive thinking) .
To all…Some days can be better than others and some can suck, but one thing to remember is that if you woke up today it’s already a great day. Stay positive and spread love to all. We all will become stronger.
I am working on a website and brand motivated by your articles on starting a website/brand/business. I am in the process of creating it and will let you know when I launch. It’s not crazy, but its a passion of mine and it makes me happy. So why not! Yeah buddy!
Permian Buyer says
This week I had a conversation with a wealthy, wise 85 year old client who told me he had five things he thought a person needed for optimal happiness and success:
2) Being Married and picking a good spouse.
3) Passion for accomplishing your goals.
5) Community Involvement.
I thought it was a decent list and seemed to work for him. Perspective is everything though.
Financial Samurai says
Good wisdom. I agree with all five points.
Having a purpose is another one. A purpose to get up every day is very powerful.
robert clayton says
Another great article. I was reminded this week while doing interviews for a open position. Except for a couple of breaks and a good boss I could be sitting in that seat looking for a better job instead of interviewing that person. Many of these people have the same education and years of experience, but haven’t been able to move up. There have been times I have been disappointed in not get a promotion, but when I look at my income and the type of work I do I have a good life.
Financial Samurai says
Ha, but have you written almost 1300 articles and play tennis three times a week?