Gain a sense of perspective: sell the goat!

Smiling goat
What goats can you sell?!

So, there I was, sitting staring at the rain crashing against the window on New Year ’s Day, feeling a bit tired and grumpy. I certainly was not feeling the New Year / new possibilities / yay isn’t life great vibe…

It was literally, and metaphorically, one of those grey days.

There was no particular reason for this mood (other than the bad weather and a general sluggishness brought on by the excesses and late nights of the Christmas season!) but I felt a bit down and not particularly excited about the year ahead.

And then I felt sad about that as this will be an exciting year for me as it’s the year when I will start to teach more yoga as I go properly part-time in my day job in spring.

But I just wasn’t feeling it.

So, I picked up the book lying next to me on the sofa, “Living Your Yoga” by Judith Lasater, and flicked through some of the chapters I had previously read. I paused on the chapter on “Perspective” and as soon as I read this line a light bulb flicked on in my head:

“Your life is as it is. How you feel about your life is up to you”.

Absolutely!

I was sitting inside, feeling trapped by the bad weather outside. I was letting this feeling seep into how I felt about my life generally. I felt I should be making plans and setting affirmations as New Year ’s Day is the perfect time to do this.

… Yes, that pesky, mean word “should” was creeping into my thoughts!

So I changed my perspective.

Today was just a rainy day – the rain will stop and the sun will come out again. No, I wasn’t trapped inside, I was taking some me-time to chill out, relax, ponder and read.

New beginnings and exciting plans don’t have to start on New Year’s Day – they can start any day of my life.

Take a step back

Stepping back and changing our perspective gives us clarity; it helps us to more clearly discern and understand what is going on in the present moment in our thoughts and in our behaviour.

This creates space to allow us to choose: to see what is happening, how to feel, and how to act.

This is one of the lessons that Patanjali gives us in the Yoga Sutras: “The means of attaining cessation [of the thought-waves or fluctuations of the mind] is the unceasing vision of discernment” (Yoga Sutras 2.26).

Use your inner vision and heart-felt understanding to create a sense of perspective. Relax and let your focus see what is truly in front of you. Allow your perspective to shift slightly and rather than reacting from habit, or a closed-mind which tells you how things should be, allow yourself to discern what is true and real.

A story about a goat…

Judith Lasater goes on to recount this story which simply, and light-heartedly, encapsulates the power of changing your perspective on life:

A villager lived in a small house with his wife, mother-in-law, six children, a cow, and some chickens. It was driving him crazy. So he went to the village rabbi and asked for help. The rabbi said he could solve the problem: he advised the man to buy a goat. Overjoyed, the man immediately went out and bought a goat. Now he had a wife, a mother-in-law, six children, a cow, some chickens, and a goat. The house was even more chaotic than before. The villager returned to the rabbi and described the increased chaos. Once again the rabbi said he could solve the problem. He told the man to sell the goat. Obediently, the villager went home and sold his goat. Suddenly, all he had in his small house were a wife, his mother-in-law, his six kids, a cow, and some chickens. Things were positively peaceful without that goat… (From Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life by Judith Lasater, p.37)

Do you have any goats to sell?

Does this resonate with you? Are you already thinking about which goats you might sell?!

Then why not take the opportunity this time of new beginnings brings and take stock of which areas of your life could benefit from a shift in perspective (although, of course, we can benefit from this at any time of year).

  • How is your sense of your body, your health and your wellbeing?
  • What are your attitudes to your work?
  • How are your relationships and what feelings do you have about them?
  • What of your attitudes about money?

What do you have in these areas you are grateful for?  What aspects are beneficial and are they any which you need to change for your own wellbeing?

Relax and soften your body and mind. Ask yourself what is really going on? What thoughts are just coming up from habit? Are they helpful? Are you reacting from habit rather than acting with positive intent?

Change your perspective. What are the positives in the situation? What can you be grateful for?  What is the truth here? How can you bring compassion to yourself and any other people involved?

Breathe in and as you breathe out think “sell the goat”.

“Your life is as it is. How you feel about your life is up to you”.

How you think about your life will determine your moods, your thoughts and your emotions and will affect your health.  You may not easily or quickly be able to change your circumstances but you can change what you think about them.

And remember: nothing is permanent; all is change.

Gain a sense of perspective and say sell the goat next time you feel angry, stressed or overwhelmed and create a sense of space in your mind … and it may bring a smile to your face too!

{Photo credit: Martin Cathrae / Foter / CC BY-SA}


Stella Tomlinson teaches slow, flowing Dru yoga in Southampton, UK, to improve posture, flexibility and spinal health. Dru yoga is characterised by graceful movements, directed breathing, relaxation techniques and working with affirmations and visualisations. It aims to relieve the stresses of modern-day living. Connect with Stella via Facebook and Twitter.

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