Monday, January 5, 2009

Perspective is almost everything…when it comes to contentment and peace, that is…

My main therapeutic task in the counseling room is to help the client see 'their problem' from a different perspective. Systems theory states that the way you see a problem will determine the answer you find for 'your problem.' As long as you continue to see the problem the way you see it, then your answer will always be the same! This explains why people repeat the same thing over and over getting the same results and complain…they want different results. If my financial problem can only be understood as a lack of money then I am stuck. Did you even have an Uncle Rudy tell you, "It is not the money you make that gets you into financial trouble, it is the money you spend"? Wow, what a different perspective! When I first heard that I thought, "You are nuts, yeah, but you don't make what I make…", but he was correct and I wasn't.

With all the ups and downs of the economy (our local gas prices jumped 17 cents over night two days ago), the 'erosion' of our 401-Ks, the fear of 'what will happen tomorrow,' it is good to take a slightly different perspective. W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm remind us that the 19th century millionaire couldn't get a cold COKE from the fridge or jump into her car and run three hours down I 65 to Gulf Shores. She could not GOOGLE anything, nor get instant news delivered to her 'desktop' 24/7. She could not jet to New York City or to Belfast, Ireland. She could not run over to the mall and buy a point-and-shoot camera, Blue Ray DVDs, or a Botox injection. She could not escape our torrid heat in the summer with AC nor have a 'boob job' done by a plastic surgeon. She could not have by-pass surgery to prolong her life or even take the 'wonder drug' (aspirin) to quell her raging headache!!

The poorest of us today are far wealthier than any of the wealthy in the 19th Century. A worker in 1900 worked for two hours and forty minutes to buy a three pound chicken…99 years later? He would only work 24 minutes! Four years prior to my birth the average worker put in more than two hours to 'purchase' 100 kilowatts of electricity; forty-nine years later the worker put in fourteen minutes.

"Godliness with contentment is great gain…" and I struggle in this world keeping the 'right' perspective. Remember, it is how you view your problem that will determine your answer…if you don't like your 'answer' then you may want to adjust your viewpoint. Looking at and doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results…now that is insanity!

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