Change the way you look at things

I’m moving across the floor in Nia class and finding myself becoming more and more annoyed with the woman dancing in front of me.

The room is packed—it’s a farewell class for one of our dear members who’s moving out of state—yet the woman I’m watching seems oblivious to this. Twirling, spinning and flailing –she’s claiming space enough for three!  And as I wonder for a moment how I could remedy the situation and consider moving to the back of the room, I feel a smile creep across my face and I suddenly see this sweet pony-tailed middle aged woman as a fanciful, quirky two-year old girl. (We’ve all seen these toddlers—they’re on their own planet, spinning through outer space and dancing to a theme song only they could have written.)

As I experienced this shift and my irritation turned to compassion and even delight as I backed up to give her more space, I thought, “Wow, what if we could view all our fellow tribesmen as toddlers?”

The naysayer in the staff meeting who finds fault with every idea—becomes the analytical three year-old who no doubt, could take apart a toaster and put it back together. The conversation hog who loves to be the center of attention is transformed into the princess in training pants who precociously commands her minions to do her bidding with a sweep of her pink, glitter-covered wand. The electronically-distracted husband who seems to be ignoring your requests for help in the kitchen is suddenly a small preschooler, legs splayed across the floor, head bowed and face buried in Where the Wild Things Are …and my teenage son when he’s rounding out a solid hour of “push back” because I won’t let him have more video game time, is magically transformed into a beaming curator of Cheerios and miniature yellow school buses.

I left class an hour later with a huge smile on my face. And gratitude for this shift in perspective. What would the world be like if we could all challenge our own thinking? Is it possible that just by seeing things differently we can embrace a new way of being and how we relate not only to situations … but to each other?

When I shared this story with my husband, he asked, “What were you thinking right before you had this shift?” I don’t remember. But, I do know that more and more, my desire to feel good, to feel peaceful—and to feel a sense of well-being—is growing stronger each day. And I’m observing that the desire to feel good, more often than not—trumps the pull to feel bad.

Let’s play! (Lord knows I need a shift in perspective! I’m feeling a bit of stress about what my 14 year-old will do this summer when I’m working–and I’m staring down the barrel at a week of deadlines, article re-writes, interviews and event prep!) For the next  week, every time I find myself getting irritated or frustrated at someone, I’m going to open my heart and mind and picture them with a red sippy cup in one hand, peanut butter smeared across their cheeks and small, chubby legs.

Will you join me? Let’s just see what’s possible when we challenge our own thinking and assumptions about one another. Who knows what might happen!


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Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness teacher/coach/speaker and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum.  She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 14 year-old son. More on her background here.