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How to Change How You Feel

This week marks the summer solstice – it actually happens the day after tomorrow. This week also marks the winter solstice, which oddly enough also happens the day after tomorrow.

How can this be? It depends on your vantage point. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, Thursday at 4:50 PM eastern time is the exact time of summer solstice. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, Thursday at 4:50 PM eastern time is the exact time of winter solstice. It is the astronomical beginning of both summer and winter. Your vantage point determines your upcoming weather forecast.

Have you ever thought about how things can feel very different, depending on your vantage point? Merriam-Webster defines vantage point as “a position or standpoint from which something is viewed or considered.” Point of view can be used interchangeably with vantage point – both mean the same thing. Here are some examples of how your vantage point can drastically change how you experience something:

Baby crying loudly on an airplane
              Nearby fellow passenger: irritation; anger; sympathy; empathy
              Parent of the baby: embarrassment; humiliation; powerlessness; sympathy

Long line at the checkout counter
              Person in the line: impatience; stress; boredom; resignation
              Checkout clerk: stress; desperation; time pressure; resignation

Driver just cut off another driver
              Driver who was cut off: anger; panic; fear; irritation
              Driver who cut off: surprise; shock; fear; triumph

You can see that in these three cases, there are predictable differences in reactions to the same events. There is also the possibility of commonality in how the two vantage points intersect. Passengers could feel sympathetic towards the parent of the crying child, while the parent could feel sympathy for the child. People in line and the checkout clerk could share feelings of stress or resignation over the long wait. The two drivers could share feelings of fear over the near-miss accident.

When I was growing up, my parents often reminded my brothers and me to look at things from the other person’s point of view. Maybe you were encouraged to do that, too? It’s a wonderful exercise in “walking a mile in their shoes” and it helps to create feelings of empathy and community instead of separateness and distrust. Next time you’re tempted to feel angry, irritated, or impatient with the actions of another, try to put yourself in their shoes and feel what they might be feeling. If this is difficult for you, here are three episodes of the world’s second-shortest podcast that can help.

Want some ideas on how to develop more empathy? Here’s a Tiny Bite for that!

Are you tired of arguments and want to encourage agreement? Here’s a Tiny Bite for that!

Trying to understand where emotional intelligence comes from? Here’s a Tiny Bite for that!

As you go through the day today, notice when you start to feel a negative emotion like stress, irritation, or even anger. Is there a different way you could choose to look at whatever has caused the negative feelings?

Can you purposely change your vantage point in that moment?

Happy summer! Happy winter! Influencing your own vantage point influences your feelings of happiness and success.

Sandy Weaver

PS...want more? Subscribe to the Mind, Body, Soul Sessions podcast, a weekly mental spa treatment for your total self!


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