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Stop Suffering

Our perspective, or how we see our circumstances in any moment, directly affects how we feel – both emotionally and physically.

“Your perception is your reality”

It Starts With A Story

Recently, a colleague called me to express her unhappiness. She said she did not sleep well the night before. And she shared the cause of her unrest was that she had failed to meet a fundraising goal she had set. I listened to her express strong anger and frustration. “I have never missed hitting my goals in this area before,” she said. Then she shared the details that she had set an ambitious goal for a one-day fundraising campaign. The campaign missed that goal. Instead, she said the campaign raised “just $70,000” in one day.

After venting her frustration she asked me what I thought. I said that from my perspective, raising $70,000 in one day, in a small market, with competitors was:

  • Impressive.
  • A clear sign her base was willing to give.
  • A strong show of support, and a foundation to build upon.

To highlight her perspective for her, I shared my perspective on the story she just shared with me. I told her:

  • I feel that having a goal helps you to focus.
  • I have worked with many nonprofits on fundraising campaigns, and raising $70,000 in one day is entirely awesome in my experience.
  • Based upon my experience, raising $70,000 in one day is a strong indicator that she has an engaged patron base that is clearly ready and willing to give.

She thanked name for sharing my perspective and said she did not see the situation the way I presented it. She also said she “felt better.”

The Power Of Our Perspective

Her story illustrates the power of perspective. She saw her circumstances one way. I saw the same circumstances a different way.

Our perspective, or how we see our circumstances in any moment, directly affects how we feel – both emotionally and physically.

What Is Perspective?

Knowing that perspective has this power over how we feel, I think it is helpful to go deeper and understand what precisely “perspective” actually is. Here’s my definition:

“Perspective is the thinking or thoughts we have about something.”

Put another way, perspective is the story we make up about something that we use to understand it, and make choices about our feelings and actions related to it.

Some who read this may not agree that their perspective is a “story.” After all, the way you see something is the way it is for you. The secret is to be ware that the way you see something is the way it is only for you. Can you see the factual nature of this observation? Evidence of this can be found in the fact that someone else can, and often does, see a thing very differently from the way you do. This is how people can have entirely different perspectives about the same thing. Can you see this?

How To Stop Suffering

You suffer when the way you see things is different from the way things are. Another way to put this is… you suffer when the way things are is different from the way you want things to be. Can you see this?

My friend was so attached to her goal that any result that did not meet her goal caused her great stress, anxiety, and pain. We create this suffering whenever we set a goal, or want something. Why? Because a goal is only ever met sometime in the future. This means that when you set a goal, that goal has not been met at the time you set the goal. So, instantly in the moment you set a goal you create a condition where you do not have what you want in the present moment. And you will not have it for some time. And during the time it takes to m get the goal you do not have what you want. You are suffering all the time until you m get your goal, or have what you want. Every day you judge your progress towards your goal. And you judge yourself and others along the way. Can you see this?

Here’s what you can do to stop this cycle of suffering.

  1. Be aware that your perspective is just what you think about something.
  2. Be aware that you have complete power to change what you think at any time.
  3. Do not take your thinking (your goals) so seriously. Not meeting a goal when you want to meet it does not mean you will not meet it ever. And, if you’re paying attention there are valuable lessons you can learn along the way.
  4. Be open. When you feel frustration, anxiety, or pain about something pull out a pen and paper and write down one or two other ways you can look at your circumstances. This simple but challenging exercise will relieve your pain almost instantly. But beware, the pain will return if you remain attached to your original perspective.

Here’s to your freedom!

This Bonus Chapter from The Personal Freedom Book by Edward Phelps was used with permission from the author. Visit to learn more about the book.