The magic of perspective
by Dr. Alan Christianson —
Do your remember your first car? Mine was an ancient Pontiac Bonneville nearly the length of an aircraft carrier. When I bought it, the sticker price was $600, but I had only saved up $500. My father encouraged me to buy it, but I told him it was out of my budget. After dad offered the salesman $350 for the car, he was told that they could not take a dollar under $475. Dad counted out $450 and said, “This is all we have; take it or leave it.” They took it. Certain situations require you to shift your perspective on what a seller really expects.
Among the car’s many lovable idiosyncrasies was an analog clock that could not be set without removing several panels from the dashboard. The one time I put forth the effort to set it, I had the clever idea of setting it 10 minutes ahead of schedule. The logic was I would trick myself into not being late for school. Of course the plan backfired. Whenever the clock said 8:30, I remembered it was fast, fostering the perspective that I had plenty of time before my 8:30 class.
Being able to shift perspective is a skill most of us already possess and use often. This skill may be the magic way to achieve the health you have always wanted.
What does perspective have to do with your health? Think of it as an alternate means to deal with frustration. You can live in upset and frustration about the challenges, obstacles and injustices or, with a shift in your perspective, these very obstacles can become launch pads.
In our quest for health, we may face many obstacles. Insurance does not pay for wellness care. Big pharma is greedy and evil. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are about to wipe out life as we know it. It is too hard to exercise regularly. All the best foods are unhealthy. In this moment we may not be able to change obstacles such as these. What we can change is our perceptions of them to ones that are more productive.
Insurance does not pay for wellness care. Nope, it usually does not. Let us change this perspective to be thankful that we have some financial protection against the medical bills caused by hospitalization and surgery. Think of your expenses for organic food, supplements and out-of-pocket health care costs as investments in the quality of your life.
Be sure to check with your accountant. Many of these expenses that insurance does not pick up may be deductible from your state taxes.
Big pharma is greedy and evil. You could change this thought to: Big pharma profits on patentable, synthetic medications used for specific diseases. You can be grateful for their offerings when it comes to infections or acute care, but calibrate yourself to look elsewhere for help with ongoing conditions.
For a quick example and more education on this, did you know that unless you have had a prior heart attack, taking statin drugs to lower your cholesterol is more apt to cause diabetes than help your heart? Visit: thennt.com/nnt/statins-for-heart-disease-prevention-without-prior-heart-disease/ for more info on this and other limits of medications for chronic disease.
GMOs are about to wipe out life as we know it. A new perspective you could consider is that GMO foods will be pulled from the marketplace the minute consumers favor GMO-free foods, even by a few percentage points. All it takes is educating yourself and a few friends. A leader of this movement is my friend Jeff Smith; check him out at: seedsofdeception.org.
It is too hard to exercise regularly, and unhealthy foods are tasty. If you shift your perspective, you could realize that your genes are most adapted to having food shortages, and they drive your habits in ways that are counterproductive when life requires little physical effort and food is abundant. Your genes make you want to eat higher calorie foods and move less, even though this shortens your lifespan and reduces your vitality. The perspective to take is that since you always get these signals, you can get comfortable ignoring them.
When you get used to exercising on days you do not feel like it and choosing foods based on how they can make you feel rather than on your cravings, this becomes the new habit. If you would like to take this further, my friend Marc David made a really interesting free video about the psychology of eating at: psychologyofeating.com/free-video-gift/.
Are you limited from activity because of chronic pain or an injury? That is no fun and makes it easy to avoid exercise altogether. I was recently in this place due to some life-long congenital problems that have created foot pain. Initially, I had a big pity party. For a short time, these pity parties can be helpful; just remember that emoting does not equal advancing. So how do you wrap up a pity party? Turn it into words through writing or talking.
Brain scans show that thinking does not help, but speaking, typing or handwriting does move you to a more productive place. After writing about my frustration, I realized that for all the things that I could not do, there were scores more that I could do. This little change in perspective alone was a total game changer for me.
Is chronic pain holding you back? One of my favorite books on how to exercise around injuries is The New Rules of Lifting for Life by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove.
Next time you find yourself feeling despondent and frustrated, think about how you can flip the situation by simply changing your perspective.
Alan Christianson, N.M.D., has been practicing at Integrative Health in Scottsdale, Ariz., for more than 15 years. He is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease. 480-657-0003 or www.integrativehealthcare.com.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 5, October/November 2014.