My film, Hachi: A Dog’s Tale had just been released around the world, and I was sleeping in a spare room…on an airbed.
This happened to me right after my film “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” premiered in Tokyo. A few months after my return, my mother had hip surgery. She ended up in rehab for three months. I had to move to my parent’s home to care for my father. While there, a few family issues came to light, and I had to put out several fires. Three months spread to eight.
We all deal with road blocks in our lives. No matter how blessed we are, situations pop up that divert us from our personal life path. In my situation, I just dived in and confronted the issues knowing time would not make them better. If I didn’t, I’d have a messier problem down the road. The best thing was: my parents went on to have a fabulous retirement full of of travel and exploration. They deserved it.
It seems like when one thing falls down, there’s a domino effect; and in a flash—your life is out of balance. These problems can consume us, and we feel like there’s no easy way past them. And even when you have nothing to do with the problem, if people close to you are affected; it’s just as if it’s your problem.
If you’ve ever felt like this, then you might need a change in perspective. The ability to recognize your issues and then quickly put them in context is key to our happiness and productivity. When we’re deep into personal dramas, life takes on a drab color. Yet, anyone can learn how to put things in perspective, and I’ve found that these 6 tips are the best way to get started.
(1) What Would Your Best Friend Say?
Whenever you are struggling to switch your perspective about something, ask yourself what your most trusted friend would tell you. We can always get a little inspiration from those we admire and respect. What would they do or say? Most likely, they will have a positive spin on the situation that you have not have considered. At the very least, they will remind you that you can handle anything that comes your way.
But be sure to always consider the source. Only ask people for advice who have proven good decision-making in whatever you need to know. You’d never want to rely on someone whose life is a hot mess.
(2) Get Back to Nature
Sometimes all it takes to shift your mindset is a nice walk in a quiet park. Spending some time in nature is a great way to disconnect from the minutiae.
In a 2013 study, researchers from Chiba University confirmed that “spending time within a forest can reduce psychological stress, depressive symptoms, and hostility, while at the same time improving sleep and increasing both vigor and a feeling of liveliness.” Forest environments are especially improve the wellbeing of those experiencing chronic stress.
My favorite hikes to elevate mood are mountain trails that wind around to reveal reveal panoramic city and ocean views. Seeing the city sprawl beneath me is a reminder that there’s a huge world out there. Lots of individuals with their own life stories. Struggles. Love. Responsibilities. Dreams.
By changing your perspective, problems often feel small when surrounded by the vastness and restorative power of nature.
(3) Spend Time Helping the Less Fortunate
Studies show that volunteering appears to be intrinsically rewarding—when we help others, we experience what researchers call a “warm glow.” As another benefit, volunteering helps boost our sense of social connection. After retirement, it’s an effective way to stay connected to people.
We can all do our part. At the core is the idea of giving back in order for our society to thrive. In addition to reducing stress, volunteering has been found to increase feelings of joy and gratitude.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
— Mahatma Gandhi
Helping the less fortunate is a winning strategy all around:
- You are helping someone who needs it whether by circumstance of their own making or not. Everyone has a story that needs hearing out. Always choose to be kind.
- You are giving yourself a boost by improving your mood, sense of optimism, and immune system. As you open yourself to others, your problems might seem trivial compared to what other people are confronting. In other words, as the saying goes, “you get what you give.” We can all use a reminder like that once in a while.
(4) Spend Some Time with Dogs
Hanging around with your canine friends is a wonderful way to switch your frame of reference. It reminds you of a simpler time when your cares melted away in the face of the next adventure. Their child-like innocence and carefree attitude have a way of rubbing off on you.
Nearly all (93%) dog parents in the U.S. say their dog has made them a better person in at least one way, according to a study by BarkBox, Bark & Co’s monthly box of goodies for dogs and their humans. The first BarkBox Dog Parent Study found that dogs overwhelmingly have had a positive impact on a range of emotional, behavioral and even physical qualities in their people.
Not only are dogs relaxing and supportive…but they’re lots of fun too!
(5) Stop Worrying About “Should”
If you require a seismic level change in perspective, forget about all the “shoulds” in the world. You don’t need to worry about where you “should” be at a certain age. Don’t burden yourself with society’s idea of what you “should” have or “should” be doing. You will feel happier if you just focus on your personal timeline. These days, individuals are finding their passion at all ages.
You don’t have to choose one career for the rest of your life. If you want, you can pivot into another field even. I did. Although I have a B.A. in psychology, I’ve had businesses in many fields —but never one using my degree. In fact, I produced “Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” without any prior film background at all. Forget the “shoulds.”
(6) Focus on What You Can Control
If you are dealing with a difficult situation, sit back and figure out what you can and can’t control. We can spend a lifetime thinking “what if?” and get nowhere. It casts a pall over our attitude, energy and how people relate to us. The main thing is to focus on doing whatever it takes to fix and normalize the situation.
One small change can alter the course of your life forever
Once you do that, shift your perspective to taking action. You know what you can control, so all that is left is for you to take steps to address those issues.
Beyond the silver screen, the story of Hachi has served as a jumping off point for families looking to deepen their own connections and fearlessly embrace life’s challenges like never before. Now, thanks to the timeless insight that can only be found through the eyes of Hachi, rewriting the story of your life is as easy as making one small change, one day at a time.
Ever feel life isn’t fair? How about when you’re feeling settled with a sense of well-being and calm— then, out of nowhere, all hell breaks loose! We get it. Been there. Done it.
Here, at Vicki & Hachi, you’ll find tips to support and guide you through the inevitable ups and downs that make life colorful. You’re not alone.