Can we really change our life experience?

How you look at it is pretty much how you'll see it”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru

You are probably familiar with the expression that hindsight is 20/20, meaning it’s a lot easier to make sense of things after they have happened.

I had the pleasure of listening to businessman, author and speaker Joel Fotinos on Sunday, and he had an interesting take on hindsight, and its corollary, foresight.

Turns out hindsight is actually a useful spiritual tool to look back at significant life events with fresh eyes, and hopefully see the benefit of something that seemed not so good, or even terrible, at the time. It’s not exactly reinventing history, but rather taking the time to reflect on your life’s circumstances and events, and find new meaning, or opportunities for growth, in those events, once time has passed and the emotions associated with them have cooled down. 

In my experience, it’s been a powerful tool to rise above the victim mentality, to take responsibility for my past (the good, the bad and the ugly) and to empower my present and future by learning from what didn’t work, appreciating the growth that came from it, and making new choices going forward.

Foresight, explained Rev. Fotinos, is perhaps an even more powerful spiritual practice. By deciding at the outset of any new experience that you are calling it good, you have the power to change your perception of what follows. I see it as an experience of trust in Life itself, the chance to be grateful for whatever comes my way, to know that it is a blessing, even without knowing why. 

So even if whatever that new experience is difficult, I am facing into it rather than avoiding it. I am looking for the silver lining, looking to see what I can appreciate about it.

I had the opportunity of putting this into practice earlier today as I was wrestling with my new computer because it wasn’t behaving like my old one – imagine that! Argh, the frustration of having to figure these techie things out when all I wanted was to get my darn work done.

I remembered Joel’s words and took a breath. Ok, I call this good. “Yeah, really?” says my cynical frustrated self.  ”This is a blessing in disguise Julie, chill out,” advises my wiser self.

Did I find the silver lining?  Well, it actually took a little hindsight. The moment passed. I got through to tech support. Issue resolved. I didn’t throw my new laptop out the window. What did I learn? The humbling reminder that learning new things is not always easy, heck it’s sometimes downright aggravating, especially if it’s not “your thing.”   Now I know some tricks I didn’t know before that will serve me well in my relationship to technology.

So even though I couldn’t find the blessing in the moment, just the mere fact of pausing a nanosecond to practice foresight and look for it, calmed me down enough to enable me to figure out the best next steps to resolve my difficulty.

I reckon it’s good to practice foresight on the small annoyances, so that when something big comes along, I’ll be better equipped to handle it.

So my dear reader, next time life throws you a challenging situation, take a moment, pull out your foresight tool from your back pocket, and see if you can’t spot that silver lining.

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