Choose the Lens You See the World Through
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Two people sitting in a room, at the same table, having the same meal at the same time, can actually be worlds apart. How? Because they look at the world through a different lens.
I love astronomy, and I’ve learned that by choosing different lenses or filters for my telescope, I observe different things in the night sky. By just changing the lens, the things I view can appear or disappear before my eyes. Objects can be overwhelmingly bright and painful to view or they can be a beautiful sight to behold. I believe our lives are similar. The lens we choose to see the world through can greatly influence the things we see and experience.
Years ago, I realized that I needed to evict people from my life because the lens they viewed the world through was negative, fearful, hurtful and sometimes caustic. It was not the lens I chose.
The first thing I realized when I came to this conclusion was that words matter. What you say about your world experience helps determine the world you live in and the people you attract into your world. What you put in your head shows up in your world. Whether you’re talking about an abundance mentality vs. a scarcity mentality, the law of attraction, or the glass being half full, words matter.
The most common example of this in my life involves my "being busy." I talk to so many people who say, “You must be so busy.” I no longer say "yes" to that question. Today, I say, “I have a full life.” You can be busy — or you can have a full life. Almost everyone says that their life is busy. But busy shouldn’t be a goal you pursue. Having a “full life” is a goal worth pursuing and having a “full life” brings me joy. Words truly matter.
I now micro-dose the news. I don’t understand why negative news sells, but it does. Frankly, it is no longer a “news” program. It is most often an “opinion” program. Why do we watch something that continuously makes our blood boil? I quit. I micro-dose the news through apps on my phone so I can stay up on what’s going on without hearing or viewing all the vitriolic opinions being pitched as “the news.”
Back in 2012, I was diagnosed with cancer. I never said to people, “I have cancer.” I always said I was diagnosed with cancer. It was my diagnosis; it was not who I was. It took a while but now, rather than saying that I am in remission, I prefer to say I am healthy. Words matter.
Last year drove home my point. While everyone was talking about being in lockdown or quarantine, I spoke about experiencing the “Great Pause” in life. The pause button was pushed on all of our lives for over a year. I found that how people responded to the Great Pause made a tangible difference relating to their experience and their life. Those people who learned how to embrace that mentality, when possible, were much happier than those who were mired in the horror of the situation.
When my wife of 31 years passed away in 2020, it would have been easy to say I was horrible when people asked me how I was doing. But instead, I tried to reframe the grief I was experiencing into something that would allow me to have a different worldview. I’d answer friends by telling them that it is “one day at a time for me” or, “I’m putting one foot in front of the other." Feeling horrible was the truth, but I also believed that living in that mental space would not help me through the difficult times. One day at a time, and one foot in front of the other, was the lens I chose to focus on. Even when you feel horrible, words matter.
We live in fearful times. I’ve learned people get frozen by fear or they get focused by fear. I propose that you get focused by fear. Focus on a lens that will help you see through the fog of chaos that surrounds you and look for the possible. Look for the positive. Look for how to reframe your situation so you can deal most effectively with the hand you have been dealt. Choose the lens that you see the world through. And always remember that words matter.