Sometimes a change in perspective, like Ohio weather, hits us unexpectedly, disorients us for a while, and then profoundly alters our feelings.
Our brains are funny machines for two reasons. First, they often work on problems without us knowing, running endless permutations of solutions of those problems until they sneak exactly the right one into our self-talk during a conversation. Second, when our brain is running these calculations the absolutely last thing it tries is changing perspective.
You can’t blame your brain, though. It’s hard for you to be someone else too. That’s what a change in perspective requires of your mind. It must take on the thoughts and feelings of another sentient mind. Imagine you were suddenly given the body structure and muscles of Michael Jordan in his prime. Would you know how to use them? I figure that’s kind of what it’s like when your mind is forced to change perspective.
Lucky for you, you are in charge of your mind. And you can make it do the hard work of changing perspective. But Spencer, I can already hear your minds whining, why do you want my person to make me change perspectives?
It’s very simple. It will make you happier.
Here’s an illustration. Suppose you are driving, and you are at a stoplight. You are the first car to go when the light goes green. Before you go through the intersection, though, you cautiously look both ways like a very defensive driver should. It’s a good thing you did because a car shoots through its red light. If you had gone, it might have hit you.
If you are anything like me, your immediate reaction is to get mad. What kind of idiot driver was that? He could have killed me! Doesn’t anyone respect the driving laws anymore? Yada yada yada.
This is boring. And that anger is never going to serve a useful purpose. So I like to change that energy. So I imagine the times in my life when I might run a red light. I know that I would most definitely run a red light if my future children’s births were happening. I like to pretend that every red-light-runner is a dad-to-be or mom-to-be rushing to the hospital. After all, it’s just as likely that that’s the case as that the red-light-runner is a selfish horrible law-breaker. And your brain will probably settle on the latter explanation well before the former.