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 2024, I've now written 2,270+ posts and over 980 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.”
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.
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. Higher 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.
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!
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.
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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