Have you ever gone for an eye test, and the optician shows you the images of the letters, and asks you which one is clearer? What if everything is blurry?
You may think the answer is obvious, you tell the optician, you move on, and eventually, you get the best pair of glasses for you. I am used to this experience, as I am a regular at Specsavers. I have an astigmatism, and my eyesight has been deteriorating for over a decade, with my optician’s initial prediction that the deterioration would stop by the time I was eighteen being left in my dust five years later. Seeing the world with distorted lights, colours and shapes means that, when I look at signposts, it may take me longer to process the information than people with perfect vision; after all, I need to have a sense of certainty that I am reading the information correctly. Not because I cannot trust my brain but because I cannot trust my eyes.
I cannot trust the way I see things to be as accurate as others due to my poor eyesight. But, yet, I am grateful for my vision; the way that my eyes perceive distant city lights is much more vivid than a camera lens, and makes the world seem brighter and more alive even in the dead of night. Despite struggling to see, I enjoy capturing the moments around me with a camera, and marvelling at city lights, especially in the festive season.
Shawn Achor explained in his 2012 TED Talk: The Happy Secret To Better Work, that “we are finding that it isn’t our reality that shapes us but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if you change the lens, not only can we change your happiness we can change every single educational and business outcome as well.”
Of course, this idea refers moreso to the idea of a philosophical outlook, or lens: if you had a pessimistic world view, you may find that there were darker, and more negative aspects to the world around them. If you have an optimistic world view, you may seek to find joy in even the darkest days.
Achor explained that he had spent eight years studying the happiness of students at Harvard. He found that within the first two weeks of having arrived on the campus, the outlook that the cohorts had had dramatically shifted, from expressing excitement of being on the campus, and having achieved such a feat, to being overwhelmed, stressed, and complaining about circumstances that occurred around them. In his TED Talk, Achor said that he was often asked “What does a Harvard student possibly have to be unhappy about?”
He explained that that question in itself was “the key to understanding the science of happiness; because it assumes that our external world is predictive of our happiness levels when in reality, if [he] knew everything about your external world, [he] could only predict 10% of your long-term happiness. 90% of your long term happiness is predicted, not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. And, if we change it, if we change our formula for happiness and success, we can change the way that we can then affect reality.”
What does this mean? When someone has a mental illness, such as depression, they can still have fun, be happy and enjoy themselves. For example, having depression does not inherently make you insufferable on a holiday, and incapable of enjoying days on the beach, soaking up the sunshine. You can still be submerged in a murky headspace, filled with dark and overwhelmingly negative thoughts about the world, and appreciate that basking in the sunshine makes for a good time.
Similarly, if you can change the way your brain processes the world, it changes your attitude. A running joke with my friends and family when I am due an optician’s appointment, and subsequently get new, and better glasses, is that “it’s like watching the world through HD TV”, but, it is more like pressing a refresh key on your computer, and seeing images loading. You’d see the image again, but sharper, and made me more attentive, and sensitive to noticing when my prescription was no longer working as well.
A trend on the social media website TikTok, focused on the idea of working to live, instead of living to work, something that is a bane to many young people’s existences when they work random shifts in sectors such as food service or retail. This idea of seeing the idea of going to work as something that needn’t take all day, eat up the day, and make you depressed, and instead, be something that simply has to happen, but not be the only thing to occur during a workday was striking. Those adopting this new attitude toward their daily grind at work, acknowledged the change that this made to the way they behaved, although making this change in mentality had been forceful, but, it had been positive. Making yourself experience the world with a new outlook would become easier as time went on.
TikTok user @radiantglowup dedicated herself to “documenting breaking the ‘live to work’ cycle”, and posted videos about how she strove to do this, to ultimately improve her attitude toward working. Her first video, which went live on August 27th 2021, stated that she was “working fifty hours a week in a job that is starting to make [her] anxious, it’s so consuming and there’s more to life. It’s time to change that”.
After a week, @radiantglowup acknowledged that her “mindset has changed so much. [she’s] starting to form a little routine, [she’d] made the bed every day (which [she’d] always thought was pointless), [she’d] kept [her] space clear and liveable (an impossible task) [she’d] never [had] the energy for it because [she] put [her] energy into work but this [was] [her] space, work [was] not [her] space. [She had been] in town early and decided to treat [herself] to a celebratory mini aero cupcake.”
Although she no longer updates daily, she has acknowledged an important philosophical change. You have to dedicate yourself to making the progress you wish to see. You cannot just transform overnight; not even butterflies can do this. Metamorphosis is a process to be maintained, just like a positive mental space and healthy mentality.
Based in London, U.K., and founded in 2016 by Arvind Mishra The Agile Works (www.TheAgileWorks.com), is an up-and-coming recruitment and Agile consulting company. Arvind is a Certified SAFe SPC and regularly delivers both private and public SAFe certification workshops.
He is a design thinking expert, Sr. enterprise, portfolio Agile Coach with over a decade of experience working as an Agile coach in diverse industries such as banking, pharma, retail, auto, oil, gas, consulting and government.
The Agile Works; a small team of three strive to help shape the leadership's mind-set and values in readiness for their business transformation journey challenges. With Arvind at the helm, we strive to provide you with the agility tools to make your company that can thrive, and not just survive.
To book a consultation, or for any enquiries, you can contact Arvind via the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org