How to Live Longer by Mastering Perspective

It’s 7:30am and I’m laying on a small couch in a dressing room for a nationally known soap opera — As the World Turns.

I’m tired. I had to get up at 3:30am to make the trip from New Jersey to the Brooklyn studios and now that I’ve been through hair, makeup and wardrobe I’m just going to close my eyes and sleep until I’m called to the set over the loudspeaker. I have all of five lines today and I’ll probably only be on set for 45 minutes total. Then I’ll have to race back to my 9-5 job since my pursuit of acting doesn’t pay the full-time bills of life.

While I’ve got my eyes closed, I overhear a conversation in the hallway taking place between two actors. I recognize both of their voices — long time cast members of the show. Substantial roles that thousands of actors would die for — full time work, incredible pay and lots of visibility in the industry.

“I’m stuck on this show and it’s not where I belong. I can’t stay here. I’m better than this.”

The two have a brief conversation but the sentence above just resonates with me as I’m thinking, “Are you kidding me? Put your notice in today and I’ll take your role tomorrow for half the money you make.” I was stunned that someone that made it to a national TV show could possibly see that achievement as a negative result. Then I realized, it’s all about perspective.

My perspective was that a full time living as an actor, regardless of how humble or lucrative, was something to be proud of. But the perspective from this particular cast member was that he’d prefer to be on a major motion picture and felt that too much time on a soap opera was hurting this opportunity. So much so, he’d lost value in his perception of the success he achieved.

I’ve done the same — just in other areas of life. But here’s something I didn’t know: that, more important than our careers, the actual longevity of our lives may depend on our perspective.

Perspective matters, and may even impact the length of our lives.

Perspective matters and it may even impact the length of our lives.

In fact, our beliefs are the translator for the real world events happening around us. Something happens and we interpret what that means in our own way using our perspective. Depending on the event and our interpretation through our perspective, we may immediately feel happy, angry or sad. It all depends on our perception which is built on our experiences and core values.

Now here’s what I really want to share — our perception of stress can potentially have a real world impact on the length of our lives.

In short, if we believe stress is bad — then it is bad for us. If we believe stress is good — then it can actually be good for us. Isn’t that concept crazy? We actually determine our physiological experience to stress.

But don’t take my word for it — I discovered it through Kelly McGonigal who realized she may have been teaching everyone the wrong way to view stress..for the past ten years. And now, she’s on a quest to reverse her teaching.

In her talk below, we hear how she came to this realization and more importantly, how to think differently about stress.

While our everyday happiness is important and depends on our unique perspective, according to Kelly’s compelling argument, there’s much more at stake. The potential length of our lives may actually depend on our perspective.

Was my post helpful to you? If you’d like to see other topics or if you have questions I can help answer please reach out to me using my contact page. I’d love your feedback.

Author: Jason Small

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  • Jennifer Boots

    This resonates with me, because lately, I’ve allowed stress to conquer me and in hindsight, I’m more worse for ware than usual from dealing with stress. Time to get better prospective!

    • Jason Small

      Thanks for sharing Jennifer. You’re not alone, I’ve done the same from time to time. It was actually such a great relief to find something like this video because I’ve always felt more activated when stressed but always wondered if it meant it was harmful to my health. What a relief to find out that it’s actually up to us do decide that based on what we believe. Hope this helps you too. :)