Dr Stewart Hase - Psychologically Speaking
A question of perspective
You hear some absolute gems on the golf course. My analysis is that the paradox of hope and despair that is the nature of the golfing life just brings out the best in people; of course it is also a wonderful parody of life itself. Last Saturday I heard two beauties that would find a place in the collected works of Schopenhauer or Voltaire from my golfing buddies (or partners in crime in the mind of my better half it took her years to find out that a game of golf doesnt take nine hours and since then she has become something of a golfing cynic).
One of the guys I was playing with was having a horrid round; it was one of those days. At one hole there is a graveyard right across the road from the fairway. Miss-hitting his umpteenth shot of the day he ruefully looked over at the rows of headstones. Smiling, he looked at us and declared that even though he was playing really badly (he didnt use these words but I am sure you wouldnt want to know what he really said), any of the golfers in the cemetery would be pleased to trade places with him. In the psychology trade we call this reframing; the ability to put a different and positive perspective on a situation or experience. And it can affect other people and how they behave towards us too. Laugh instead of being defensive see things the way they are not what we want them to be.
In comparison, I met the Australian equivalent of Basil Fawlty (John Cleese in the television series Fawlty Towers) last week at a hotel in Sawtell. The proprietor or manager gave the strong impression that he thought I was a complete idiot when checking in, checking out and anywhere in between. On top of that he was simply mirthless and grumpy; he obviously thought that he was doing me a great favour in staying at his hotel. Not any more. In fact Im making it a habit not to give my business to places who treat me badly and there are a lot of shops in Lismore and environs that I treat as noxious. I stay away from noxious people too these days; life is just too short.
The other gem came when I was explaining to a fellow player whom I have known for years that I had played very well the previous week and, as a result, my handicap had been reduced a fair bit. He said that this would have an impact on my world ranking and he would look at the next world ranking list to see where I was. I couldnt help but laugh and agree that I would be somewhere near Adam Scott! It was a great moment rich with irony and understanding.
I have come to believe that the perspective we put on things is probably the most important thing we do in life and that we can control how we see things. We can take ourselves and life unnecessarily seriously; we can make mountains out of molehills; we can worry too much about what might happen in the future or decide to wait and see what actually happens; we can believe what others say about us and believe that when we are treated badly we deserve it or we can recognise that it is just someones biased opinion or bad behaviour; we can feel that life is unfair when things dont go the way we want to be or we can know that it is just the way things are; we can forgive and move on rather than staying locked in resentment; and we can make up stories about the reasons for this that have no basis in reality but which make us feel bad.
Perspective is a choice. We can make up great stories and just believe in who we are and who we want to be. Philosophy may well be dead in universities but it is alive and well on the golf course thank heavens.