Lately I haven't been thrilled with the state of my attitude, and when that happens I start wondering how to think. I'm not sure if wondering how to think is common, but it feels strange in the same way it feels strange to be conscious about how to breathe. You start to lose the natural flow.
I recently read a blog post which I'd post a link to but it no longer exists. The topic was contrast and how contrast allows us to enjoy things in our lives. The blog specifically talked about going for a long hike, being out of food and water, finally getting to the bottom of the mountain and going out for burgers and beers and how delicious they are after doing a long hike. A winning poker day feels a lot better after 5 losing days than it does when it's your 6th winning day in a row. A sunny day is much more enjoyable when it's been raining all week. If you live in Phoenix, a sunny day is hardly something to get excited about.
I enjoyed that blog post, and it got me thinking about perspective. People often talk about gaining perspective when they hear about something terrible on the news, or watch a documentary on the horrible state of some foreign country, but realistically it's difficult to maintain that perspective and apply it to your own life when it isn't something you experienced first hand. I appreciate the fact that I have had a privileged upbringing and that I get to enjoy a wonderful life, but it's often difficult to find solace in the negative moments by contrasting my life to something I have never experienced. All I have to really contrast against are things I have experienced, and the further back those experiences are the more difficult it is to find the perspective.
I make an effort to keep minor, mundane events in perspective. The other day I made a bogey on the 8th hole, then as I was waiting on the 9th tee I started eating an apple. It was so horrible I threw it away after a few bites. I was almost upset, but then I started laughing at how this was easily one of the worst moments of my day, and if that's how "bad" I have it, then I have it pretty good.
One of the best things I learned from my mental coaching with Jared Tendler (http://jaredtendlerpoker.com/) was that anger on the golf course (and most other places) comes from unrealistic expectations. Even if it's just for a short period of time, I occasionally find myself getting upset over mundane things and it bothers me. Why would anyone get upset about something that won't matter tomorrow, or in an hour, or in 5 minutes? Using perspective to fix a flawed way of thinking is often just a band-aid. Telling myself not to be upset about poker because some people don't have clean drinking water just isn't a good long term fix. It's a matter of training your mind like you would train anything else. If you don't want to get upset during rush hour traffic, then before you get into your car you need to accept the fact it's going to be slow, idiots on the road are going to be idiots, and you will likely have to babysit them just like you would do any other day. Now you're on the road to resolution. My apologies for that terrific pun.
Thanks for reading!