tisdag 23 september 2014

How tactical framing makes you happier

Are you bored or unhappy? Reframe the situation and make yourself happy:

1. Think that "This is good"
2. Consider how things could be worse

Today: The grund was wet from rain but the dark clouds were evaporating under the rays of the sun. It was 4 pm and I was just arriving at my apartment with some groceries. As soon as I got indoors I felt a loss or a regret of some kind, for not being outside in the nice weather. I knew the park, 50 meters away, had to be bathing in sun for at least another hour and I was missing it!

Right there and then I was subconsciously framing the event as "missing out on sun in the park". Seconds ago, however, I was smiling at the thought of "being home so early on a work day", that the rain had stopped, that the weather was nice, that I had already both gone for a podwalk (between 7 and 8 am, listening to the NPR/TED radio hour) and finished Tuesday's workout (around 11:30-12:30).

When I thought about it consciously, I knew being in the park wasn't all that nice. Sure, the sun would feel good on my face, but I got plenty of that during the weekend. Further, it was only 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees F) outside. In addition the grass in the park would be wet.

What I did was reframing the situation to something that felt better. I chose to see it as being home early. I chose to see the park for what it was (cold and wet) rather than some paradise. And, finally, I just stood by the kitchen window for a couple of minutes in full sunlight, with my eyes closed and enjoyed the moment for as long as I wanted (which wasn't that long).

I have used the reframing technique often to make situations more tolerable. If I feel the least bit bored, waiting for a bus or standing in line, I think "at least I'm not at the office" or "I'm not ill. I'm strong and healthy". If things are tense at home, I think "at least I'm not single/alone/bored".

Reframing has the potential to make you much happier but also risks making you less successful.

Did you win the silver medal or loose the gold? Reframing too much may make you complacent; if you really want to succeed and don't care that much about happiness you might be better off just being miserable until your next chance at gold. However, if you reframe the event to winning silver, you can live proud and happy, maybe even win other events or simply go on with your life to new endeavors, without obsessing over the loss in one area.

Do you think you wasted an hour for missing the connection? Reframe it; you were still alive that hour, you had time to think, time for chance encounters, time to read a book or a self development blog. If you actually missed a very important meeting you may have missed out for real. Too bad, it was positively bad for you, but since you can't change the actual situation you might just as well try to reframe the event to something more agreeable.

Two simple reframing techniques:

1. Think that "This is good. I feel good. I am healthy. I have a job. I am free. I have a partner. I am single" or something else that is positive for you
2. Consider how things could be worse "It could be colder, raining, I could have lost my job. I could be ill. I could be cold and wet in the park"

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