Life is full of contrast. We don’t always like it, but the contrast keeps the current of life flowing, forcing us to change, adapt, move forward. There is no “hot” without “cold." The balance of sweet and sour gives flavor to our food. We can’t feel joy unless we know sadness. Sometimes, the only way to discover what makes us happy is to experience what makes us unhappy. How can we harness this power of contrast and bring more momentum and clarity to our everyday routines? Here are a few things to consider:
- If you have to do something that you don’t like doing, pair it up with an activity that you enjoy. Maybe, a cup of good coffee will help you through a boring part of the textbook, just like a good CD makes a long drive more bearable.
- Reward yourself after you have accomplished a project that felt more like punishment. Come up with a reward before you begin the unpleasant task. That way you have something to look forward to and keep you motivated.
- Play Devil’s Advocate. When you prepare an argument, always consider the opposing points of view. You will discover the weaknesses of your position before your opponents have a change to point them out.
- Stretch yourself by experimenting with the ways you do things. If you read slowly, try speed-reading. If you are used to typing up your notes, leave your computer at home and take notes by hand. If you are usually quiet in class, force yourself to ask more questions. Reflect on how it feels to do the opposite and how it affects the process and the outcomes.
- When you read a text in legalese, translate it into plain English to aid comprehension and practice effective writing.
- If you are quick to jump to conclusions, stop and ask how one could reach the opposite conclusion.
- When you evaluate a legal opinion, ask yourself what would have happened if the court had decided differently. Think in terms of precedent, policy, outcomes.
- When you consider career paths or job offers, visualize yourself doing the opposite of what your initial choice would be. Notice how it feels and how your body reacts. Do the same exercise with the other options.
- If you have failed at something, ask yourself: “What can I learn from this experience that will help me succeed in the future?”
- Counteract the negative self-talk with positive affirmations.
- If you are angry, think of kindness. If you are frustrated because you didn’t get what you wanted, express gratitude for what you have. Start giving in order to receive.
How else can you use contrast to your benefit?