Perspective is everything

After watching this TED talk by Rory Sutherland I was struck by the poignancy of it. Sutherland argues that “reality isn’t a particularly good guide to human happiness,” and “how you frame things really matters.” Sutherland is in the advertising business and knows a thing or two about reframing things. He gives many great examples during the talk but this one stuck out for me:

You know my example of the Eurostar. Six million pounds spent to reduce the journey time between Paris and London by about 40 minutes. For 0.01 percent of this money you could have put WiFi on the trains, which wouldn’t have reduced the duration of the journey, but would have improved its enjoyment and its usefulness far more.

For maybe 10 percent of the money, you could have paid all of the world’s top male and female supermodels to walk up and down the train handing out free Ch√Ęteau Petrus to all the passengers. You’d still have five [million] pounds in change, and people would ask for the trains to be slowed down. – Perspective is everything

He is being a bit flippant with it, but essentially he’s right. “The circumstances of our lives may actually matter less to our happiness than the sense of control we feel over our lives.” So how we perceive our lives is far more important than the reality.

With Rory’s example in mind how can we apply this to our lives; rather than speeding up that journey by bouncing from one thing to the next, how can we relish in the journey and improve our experiences along the way?

First, take note of everything today that isn’t fast enough or just isn’t working out your way. Maybe public transport is delayed, the person in front of you is driving too slow, your 4G signal isn’t loading the webpage quick enough, the cashier is taking too long, the list is endless. It’s very much like the saying – “a watched pot never boils.” If we are so fixated on the destination, the journey will inevitably feel longer and more excruciating.

Second, reframe it. If transport is delayed, stop huffing and puffing and pick up a paper to read or open a book. Stuck in traffic? Turn up the radio and sing! Or listen to an audiobook. 4G sucks, put your phone away and talk to you’re friend (or stranger!?). There will be times when we feel we’re waiting for life to happen, the next thing to begin but life is already happening, all around us.

How will you reframe your day?


Jane says:

Never thought about it like that but I will now. How often do we ask ourselves the question 'where have the past 20 years gone' or 'the years are flying by'. The older one gets the quicker they appear to go. I was fixated by speed as a competing athlete but now that I am older I just run, the pace doesnt matter but who I run with and where i run do. Once a week I run with a friend, we chat all the way and we put the world to rights, and even though we are not running fast the run is over too quickly so we spend the next hour chatting some more over a coffee or two. I prefer to run on country lanes where I can experience the sights and smells that each season brings, its my time, quality time. Next time I feel stressed when things are not happening fast enough I will try to think of something to make the best of that time and not wish the second, minutes, hours away.

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