People called them, “the cockroaches of the ocean”, “trash food”.
This creature’s shells scattered by a house was looked upon as signs of poverty and degradation.
Rumor has it, after a revolt, the colony was forced to sign contracts promising that indentured servants wouldn’t be fed this food for more than three times a week.
Would you be surprised if I say, I’m talking about the lobster?
It’s true. Lobster is one heck of a social climber.
In the early days, lobsters were so abundant, that they would wash up on the shore and pile up to two feet high. It was considered prison food and poor man’s protein. People did eat it, but certainly not happily or openly. At one point, canned lobster sold lower than Boston baked beans – just 11 cents a pound.
So when did lobster become the posh treat it’s today?
It all started with the railways. As the railways grew in America, the transportation managers got a brilliant idea. If no one knew, what lobsters were, they could be served as a rare and exotic item. And it worked – big time! It was cheap to procure. The inland passengers were intrigued. They liked it so much that they asked for it even after they left the train.
With the proper marketing and some tender, loving, care from talented chefs, who discovered they were even more appetizing if cooked alive – the cockroaches of the ocean became the king.
This story is intriguing in so many levels. The lobster was a lobster from start to finish. But the way it was perceived ranged from trash food to food served in Rockefeller sized parties. It all boils down to perspective.
Just like the lobster, we can perceive our life – king sized or beaten and run down. Life can give us rocks or diamonds. Our perspective could find diamonds in rocks or throw away diamonds as rocks.
Choose to Change It
Although you might feel like the universe hands you the short end of the stick, you choose how you see the world. You can accept yourself as a victim of circumstance or choose to look at things from a new angle.
One of the best ways to do this is notice your everyday thoughts. What does your self talk look like? Does it look something like this:
- I’m too lazy.
- I always mess things up.
- Bad things always happen to me.
- I’m so disorganized.
- Why bother, I’m not good enough anyways.
Self- talks are often self-fulfilling prophecies. Thoughts turn into actions. “I’m going to mess up my job interview”, will often lead you to freeze up and miss your chance. ” I can never stick to a diet” will lead to a midnight drive through Krispy Kreams.
The good news is, there are simple ways to change our negative self talk.
- We tend to be a lot more kinder to people around us than ourselves. Talk to yourself, like you would to a friend. You would never say to a friend who fell on his face, “what is wrong with you? Your balance is horrible”.
- Use “get to” instead of “have to”. Notice the total shift in perception when you say “I get to cook for my kids” than when you say “I have to cook for my kids”. One triggers your gratitude channel and the other makes you the victim.
Change Your Routine
If you’ve read my previous posts, you’d know I go on and on about creating routines. This is the place where I’m suggesting the opposite. Change your routine. Our brain is wired to repeat patterns, both good and bad. If our actions follow certain patterns, our brains get stuck in the rut and gets used to monotony. Doing the same things, in the same order , in the same way day in and day out, makes us less likely to be open to new perspectives.
Changing routines need not be an overhauling experience.
- Take a different route to work.
- Walk instead of taking your car.
- Try a different restaurant or cuisine.
- Read a different genre of book.
Every break in pattern will give us a new perspective and expands our opportunities and mind.
Look for the Lesson
This is probably the hardest one for a lot of us. When we’re beaten down and at our lowest point, learning from the experience is probably the very last thing we’d want to do. But, it’s the probably the wisest and most practical thing we can do. Looking for a lesson is the single most important thing that would make a difference between laying down and giving up or picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves down and going about our day, wiser for the experience.
Complaining makes us complacent. It might make us feel better at the moment. And it’s OK to get it out with a good friend or family member. But, take it too far and it’ll do so at the cost of doing something to change the situation.
There is grace in being where we are.Though it may not feel like it, there is some hidden blessing in what we’re doing. We just have to go digging for it.
Celebrate the little victories. We’re quick to beat ourselves up if something goes wrong, but fail to celebrate the little things. Did you finally finish that project or book, did you pay off that credit card? Look for little things to celebrate. The more you look, the more you’ll find.
The past only holds as much power as you allow it. It doesn’t define you, imprison you or hold you back from anything. Time doesn’t heal anything if we don’t move along with it. Leave the past where it belongs and move on.
Latch onto hope anywhere you can find it. Be ready to embrace something larger than yourself. When life deals a hard blow, if there is nothing to hold onto, rising up from the challenge could be extra hard. It might look different to all of us. For some its could be religion, to others family and friends. Whatever it is, believe in it, nourish it and hold on to it.
Take on an Observer Role
Everything feels a lot more dramatic when you’re in the midst of it. A long line for coffee could be very frustrating when you’re running late already. But if you’re able to distance yourself from the situation and look at it objectively rather than emotionally, you’ll be able to see the situation exactly for what it is, with the frills cut out.
Yes it’s a long line. And yes I’m running late and will have to face the wrath of my boss. I can stand here and rage and fume. Or I could enjoy the sweet smell of coffee and wait for my turn. The outcome is the same. But the way you feel about the whole situation is very different.
Travel somewhere new
There is absolutely nothing that expands our mind and perception like travel does. A new destination, new people, how these people get on with their lives, can all bring a whole new twist to what we thought we already knew. Travel doesn’t have to be some exotic location. It simply could mean a few miles from your neighborhood. Next time you have a choice between collecting things and experiences, opt for experiences. They enrich our life like no thing ever can.
“It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.”–Henry David Thoreau
Shift your perspective to see life in a way that is better for you.