I would like to say a few more words about perspective because I think it is so important to maintaining a positive attitude. It is often useful to consider that the same exact situation can look gloomy or hopeful depending on our mood when we look at it. This is another one of those things that seems obvious when we consider it but, in practice, we rarely appreciate its significance.

Suppose a person told you that yesterday, your favorite sports team lost its game. Would you say that the team is doing well or not? It’s hard to answer that question because we don’t have enough information. If it turns out that the team has won 20 of its last 21 games and yesterday was its first loss, that loss doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, it’s almost irrelevant. Similarly, in the photo above, what is the women on the left holding in her lap? That’s tough to answer because the photo is taken too far away from her to see. Some situations in our lives seem difficult because we are too far away from the point at which they will resolve naturally to understand what we can learn from them.

If situations can look different depending upon the context and our perspective on them, how do we know what is good or bad? The answer is that we need to prioritize correctly. If the goal for your sports team is winning its division, than more than a few losses along the way is perfectly acceptable. During the playoffs, the tolerance for losses is probably a lot less depending on the rules (sorry for the sports analogies for you non-sports fans).

From a meditation perspective, our priority is present moment awareness. When we are mindful in the present moment, we have already reached our goal. If things are not too our satisfaction, likely the problem is not with the state of affairs but with our perspective. For a person trained in mindfulness, being mindful of the fact that the mind is not observing in a balanced fashion is often enough to correct the problem.

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(2) Identify Your Goals, A. Success and Stress-Free Living