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Change your perspective

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By Patrick Achitabwino:

The world gives you what you expect from it. Great teachers have taught that we do not live in the world; we live our story in the world. How you live in the world is your choice. The perspective that you have will determine how your life story goes. Somebody sees dung and says: “this place is filthy.” Another person sees the same dung and says: “I will make compost manure.” Nothing has changed. The dung remains the dung. It is perspectives that change things.

When you have a positive orientation towards things, the things you look at become beautiful to you, you end up unearthing positive ideas. It must never be forgotten that the mind and imagination comprise the workshop of a human. Work on new ideas in your mind. Challenge perspectives in your mind. There is no big difference between the successful and the unsuccessful people. What differentiates them is how they look at things.

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John Maxwell narrates a story that can reinforce in your mind the power of having a positive perspective. A woman followed her husband during the war to a U.S. Army camp in the desert of southern California. The man had advised against it but the young bride did not want to be separated from her new husband. The only living accommodation they could find was a run-down shack near a Native American village.

The place was very basic. During the day, temperatures often reached 115 degrees. The wind, which blew constantly, felt like air from a furnace. The dust made everything miserable. The young woman found the days to be long and boring. Her only neighbours were Native Americans with whom she could find little in common. When her husband was sent into the desert for two weeks of maneuvers, she broke down. The living conditions and loneliness were too much for her. She wrote her mother to say that she wanted to come home.

Her good mother sympathised with her. She immediately replied back. In her letter there was one sentence which struck the daughter most. It read: “Two men looked through prison bars; one saw mud, the other saw stars.”

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The young lady read the sentence over and over again. She meditated on what mum was connecting. She knew that in the end this hell on earth sort of a place could look like paradise only if she accords it that perspective. Next day she walks out of the house, she would look at the bright stars in this place, so a resolution she made.

John Maxwell explains: “she worked hard to make friends with her neighbours. As she got to know them, she also asked them to teach her about their weaving and pottery. At first they were reluctant, but as they saw that her interest in them and their work was genuine, they became more open. The more the woman learned about the Native American culture and history, the more she wanted to know. Her perspective started changing. Even the desert began to look different to her. She began to appreciate its quiet beauty, its tough but beautiful plants, even the rocks and fossilised sea-shells she found as she explored it. She even began to write about her experiences there.”

What had changed? Not the desert. Not the people who lived there. She had changed. Her attitude had transformed-and as a result, so did her outlook.

No matter how hopeless the situation you are in looks, if you change the perspective, life will be different. An accident paralysed Martin Brown from neck down. His dreams had faltered. He thought how he could live a better life. He ended up becoming a motorised wheelchair entrepreneur who has designed wheelchairs that are even suitable to move on sand. His paralysis had not ended. It was his mind that took a different look.

William Kamkwamba looked at poverty and hunger in his home area. Water was a problem. For years and years, wind was blowing and hunger was there as well.

Instead of cursing his homeland that it was a just a windy place which aroused dust and make them unclean in an area where water was even a challenge, he focused on making a windmill that would be run by the same wind and used to pump water for irrigation.

Nothing had changed. The same wind. The same barren land. The only thing that changed was the perspective. Whatever your challenge is today, just change the perspective and your circumstances will change.

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