THE BLOG

Which Side of Your Hand Are You Looking At?

12/26/2012 08:05 am ET | Updated Feb 25, 2013

Have you ever noticed how your perspective influences how you interpret things? Who hasn't been in a situation where they have felt misunderstood or underappreciated, when in reality that person was only trying to help? Sometimes shaking up our perspective can make all the difference in the world. In addition to appreciating ourselves, it can also help us to live more vibrantly.

This shift in understanding can often come to us in the strangest of ways. For instance, the other night, our youngest woke up at 2:30 in the morning. As I was getting her back to sleep, I realized that I had completely forgotten to re-enroll our 3-year-old in preschool. The application was now almost a week late! Naturally, my heart began to race and I immediately felt stressed. What if he wasn't able to keep his spot because of my mistake? Why hadn't the school called me? I had so many different thoughts, but the most pressing was: How could I have forgotten something so important?

I raced into my son's school the next morning to speak with the coordinator. Thankfully, she reassured me that his spot was still available. I shared with her how upset I had been the night before because I'd forgotten to send in the application. She responded with one of the most profound statements I've ever heard: "Don't focus on the things you didn't do, focus on all the things you did do that prevented you from doing what you forgot to do!"

In the seven seconds that it took her to say that, she managed to completely transform my perspective, and flip my view from the back of my hand to the front. Same hand, different view, different data points and therefore new perspective. And she's completely right. Had she simply said, "Don't worry, everybody forgets at times," I wouldn't have thought twice about it (and probably wouldn't have been comforted). But to focus on all the things I am doing? To spend a minute acknowledging myself for the ways I support my family and friends, how hard I work to help my patients? Now, that was a revolutionary idea!

Most people I know have too much to do and too little time to do it. We can all use a little extra help. While sometimes that help is physical help, in many cases it comes from the way we look at an issue. Sometimes when you change your perspective, the issue can look drastically different. It can take just a few words from one person to help you look at the whole world.

There are innumerable opportunities in today's world to feel inadequate. Are your hair, makeup and clothes perfect? Not mine. Do you have the body of a model? Uhh... nope. Is your lifestyle glamorous? Again, not me. Do you take exotic vacations every year? Nope -- not with four kids and a growing business!

But, I would venture that there are also countless opportunities to feel acknowledged, successful and downright awesome, especially if you take steps to recognize all you do. Did I help someone today? Yes. Did I speak nicely to my husband? Yes. Did I put dinner on the table? Yes. Did I get to work on time? Yes. The devil really is in the details.

These details are the ones that force you to pay attention to all the good things you do, instead of harping on what you've missed. Taking the focus off what you haven't done allows you to see that you really do make a difference every day. And taking a moment to feel good about yourself and the difference you are making does wonders for your sense of self-worth.

So go ahead and get noticed, by yourself!

For more by Wendie Trubow, click here.

For more on emotional intelligence, click here.