THE LAST LAUGH: A New Skill for 2007: Enjoy the Benefits of ReframingJust when you think you know it all, it all changes--or at least your perception of it does.
Just when you think you know it all, it all changes—or at least your perception of it does. I’ve discovered that if you con-sciously alter your perspective of reality, the result can be less stress, a more positive outlook on life and fewer people mad at me—and vice versa.
Even my nurse practitioner recommended mind over drugs to reduce those still-pesky hot flashes. Here are some recent examples of how reframing has helped me.
I love summer activities such as boating, sailing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, biking and tennis. My play partner suf-fering a deep leg gash requiring 10 stitches inside and 29 metal staples outside changed things starting June 11.
Negative: There’s nobody to play with for water or any activities requiring two good legs. A rotten waste of summer.
Reframed: Toward the end of the summer I realized that other activities had replaced my beloved water sports. I played on five tennis teams, became adept at nursing and health care and enjoyed more time for reading and lolling in the sunshine. Maybe 2007 will bring me a “water summer.”
After six years in California, our associate publisher—my daughter Liz—has decided to relocate our satellite office from the West coast (San Francisco) to the East Coast (New York City) sometime this spring.
Negative: Oh my god, just last year I risked life and limb driving a U-Haul truck full of her things from San Diego to San Francisco. No way I can drive a truck in NYC. What about my grandcats? I love visiting her in California. NYC scares me. Will she never stop running?
Reframed: She finds NYC exciting, energizing and full of her type of young people and fully expects to find her soul mate there. She’ll study for an MBA degree while continuing to work for WIHE, and suggest improvements based on what she’s learning about the world of real business. It may help chart her future involvement with WIHE, which will help me plan for its continuity as I become ever more irreverent and irascible.
After playing tennis for a decade, it’s about time I got a ranking of 3.5 rather than 3.0. Teammates have moved up, so I can do it too.
Negative: Why can’t I improve? Do I need lessons? More play? Books to read? A personal coach?
Reframed: Playing on five teams this summer—plus three women’s leagues and a social coed league this fall—taught me that my goal of earning a 3.5 rating is silly. At my advanced age, I’m lucky not to be rated lower! I’m lucky to still be playing! If I work on strategy rather than taking those high-risk shots, maybe I can get the personal satisfaction of winning some games off those 30-something wispy players with pony tails. Or play with those my age.
While attending the NILD conference in Phoenix in November with another Carolyn Desjardins disciple, I had an unexpectedly close encounter with a cactus after the first evening session. The cactus won.
Negative: Damn, those spikes in my right hand hurt! I’m puking my guts out on the Vicoden from the emergency room, missing hearing the latest from that wise crone Meg Wheatley and other speakers, and relying on others to cover for me at the conference sessions. What a bummer!
Reframed: I could have broken my right hand or other extremities and gotten a concussion instead of just a bloody head and sweater. And when I got home, a miracle happened! While surgeons were sharpening their scalpels to re-move the last spike imbedded in my forearm, it worked its way out. I found it early Sunday morning, sitting atop the soft fur of my cat Lucky. Three-quarters of an inch long and the girth of a toothpick, the color of dried blood.
Even after 62 years, I still think of myself as the sassy, high-spirited youngster I was 50 years ago. My proudest mo-ment as an athlete was when I managed to get my lucky #5 on each of my team uniforms: softball, ice hockey, soccer and basketball. Today my strength, athleticism and health are no longer a given.
Negative: My body is now older, rounder, weaker and disinclined to movement. All the things I love have been de-clared bad for it: caffeine, chocolate and alcohol. I might as well eat baby food and stay under a blanket.
Positive: As long as my mind stays active, I can continue to make waves, call attention to the emperor’s lack of clothes and help others change society. Philip Lacoste played singles until the age of 92, and I think some of the women at my tennis club are going to do likewise. As long as the standard is progress and not perfection, I can still contribute.
Reframing events and attitudes from the negative to the positive has given me a new perspective. Just like the NCAA created a whole new standard for measuring academic success for athletes, I can decide whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. Having drained the glass myself, I can alter my reality to assure getting the last laugh.