Early on the morning after a big rain storm, my husband and I set out on a road trip. The clouds were still churning and trying to determine if they had anything to leave behind. As we started over the mountain passes, I could see the sun struggling to make an appearance, and soon I saw my first silver lining. For years I had heard the metaphor, but I hadn’t witnessed one. I tried to capture the glowing edges of the clouds, but my phone didn’t do it justice.
As I’ve thought about the metaphor and the magnificent image now in my mind, I couldn’t help but compare it to the perspective I’ve had from an airplane. From a different vantage point, I’ve watched the sun’s rays reach out and blanket each puff and swirl. Instead of the sun appearing to move around the clouds, it was constant.
Each perspective showed me something different. One saw the sun trying to maneuver around the clouds, and the other saw the sun as immovable. Depending on where you are in life, your perspective can be clouded by what you believe to see.
Be Mindful of our Minds
I read a recent study about the power our thoughts have on our brain. The research looked at two of the most common complaints we make every day.
- I didn’t get enough sleep
- I don’t have enough time
Our brain needs to be able to focus and whether you realize it or not, it gets all its instructions about what to focus on from you. – Katherine Schafler
Each of these complaints become a self-fulfilling prophecy because we focus and think them to ourselves over and over until it becomes our belief. What are some of your first thoughts when you get up in the morning? Do you think those thoughts over and over while you are getting ready for the day? When your body becomes convinced of the scarcity of something it reacts as if it were true.
If we allow our thoughts to circle around something that isn’t completely accurate, our brain will still compute it as a belief. Do you see where I’m going with this? We have to be mindful of our minds. When we catch our thoughts distorting our perspective we have to be sure to redirect them to a more accurate view. Take a step back and look at your life with new eyes. Watch your thoughts and be sure they don’t become your new reality.
A great way to reign in our thoughts is by finding ways to be grateful. It seems so simple, yet we take so many of the blessings in our life for granted, and our perspective misses the benefit.
On the flip side, sometimes hindsight helps us recognize what we have to be grateful for. My daughter introduced me to Ben Rector and his song “30,000 Feet.” Much like my experience in the airplane, his lyrics paint the picture of how our perspective at 30,000 feet can bring unrecognized meaning to our lives.
I’ve been better, I’ve been worse
I have loved a pretty girl
I’ve seen a couple places that I never thought I’d see
I’ve walked into harder times, I’ve walked out the other side
It seems like you end up getting what you need
Yeah, looking down from 30,000 feet, life’s been good to me
Regular gratitude exercises, like keeping a gratitude journal, help remind us to keep the positives circulating on the information feed in our brain. Don’t be superficial in your thoughts. Genuine gratitude goes further in improving your perspective. It’s not about getting what you think you want or need, it is about recognizing what enough looks like for you.
Recognizing the Constants
I think my biggest realization with the clouds is that the sun is always constant. When I was down in the storm watching the sun fight to make an appearance, my perspective told me the sun was moving. But up above the clouds, I saw the sun was constant, and the clouds were the ones moving.
There is one stabilizing force we can always count on, the love and care of our Savior. He does not move but remains with his arms stretched out waiting for us to come to him. In our discouraged, overwhelmed, and frustrated attitudes we often think he has abandoned us when in reality we have done something to move away from him.
Recognize when your actions pull you away from the Son. Often it is subtle, small movements only becoming noticeable over time. Recalculating our thoughts, or adjusting our level of gratitude is sure to help.
Just like the North Star that mariners used to find their way at sea, the Son and his light can guide us through the most difficult trials of life. Recognizing His strength and allowing your faith to trust Him can be hard, especially when you can’t see beyond where you are currently standing. Sometimes that light only shows you one step at a time — take the first step and see where the light guides you.
Our perspective is not always the most reliable. The clouds of doubt, despair and ingratitude can be deceiving. If we allow these thoughts to take root in our mind, we are altering our ability to see life clearly. We are clouding our perspective. Learning to be mindful of our minds, finding ways to be grateful and remembering the constants in life will help bring clarity.
How do you push your mind past your perceived obstacles?
- LDS.org. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/jer/32.17?lang=eng#16
- Schafler, Katherine. (2017). Thrive Global. Retrieved from https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/10428-two-toxic-thoughts-you-accidentally-think-every-day#utm_source=Thrive&utm_medium=Facebook
- Short, Robert L. (1965). The Gospel According to PEANUTS. Richmond, VA: John Knox Press.
- Rector, Ben. (2015). YouTube.com. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9SpgJpLvj8