Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings New York City

Change Your Lens, Change Your Life

By Michael Mongno, Ph.D.

Perhaps you’ve read the Buddhist philosophy that all our suffering comes from disagreeing with our reality—from wanting things to be different than they are. It’s easy for the judging mind to get caught up in all the adjustments we’d like to make to life so it’ll be more to our liking. This applies to most things and circumstances, and very often to our partners. (If they could only be this way or do that, then we’d be happy.) And as we try fruitlessly to change our environments and the people therein, we’re actually increasing our own suffering.

Recently I had an experience that illustrated this philosophy beautifully, although initially, it didn’t seem so beautiful. I went to a restaurant at a Caribbean resort and was escorted to a table right near the waiter’s stand, where they put used dishes. Of course, that wasn’t where I wanted to sit. I wanted a table by the window with the lovely view. 

I didn’t want to call the hostess back and ask for a different table, but I also wasn’t happy with where I was. So I decided that in order to enjoy my meal, I had to do something different. As I sat there pondering, I began to watch the waitresses going about their jobs, and after a few minutes I sort of entered their world. I noticed how hard they worked and how respectful, warm and friendly they were with each other, and it occurred to me that their sole job every evening was to serve me and my fellow guests—a job they all did with a smile. 

Struck and a bit humbled by this realization, I felt an immense appreciation for the part these servers were playing in my evening, and I began enjoying my meal with a much different and fuller sense of satisfaction. I also experienced real gratitude for the privilege of spending time in such a beautiful place, where all my needs were being met—the sort of privilege relatively few people in the world ever have.

What had I done that made the difference in my evening? I changed the lens through which I viewed my experience. As a result, I felt even more fulfilled by and appreciative of the reality I was in and the dinner I was about to have. 

This is a strategy we can use on a daily basis when things aren’t quite to our liking. We can try to change how we see a situation and, more often than not, become more aligned with reality, so that we can be at peace in any given moment and enjoy more of our living.

Michael Mongno, Ph.D., offers relationship counseling for individuals and couples. His office is located near Lincoln Center in Midtown Manhattan, at 100 W. 67th St., Ste. #2NE. To contact him, call 212-799-0001. For more information, visit