Nuisance or soothing? All in the framing.

This summer we stayed in a house that was situated next to a stream. The house wasn’t air-conditioned, and even in the temperate climate of Hawaii, it was stuffy without the windows open and ceiling fan running. So we slept with open windows, and the sound of the stream running through our nights.

A funny thing, I noticed the stream didn’t bother me. I noticed it because running water at night usually does bother me. When the source of the water is a toilet that keeps filling, or a faucet that isn’t completely turned off, I hear the trickle of water and I can’t unhear it. It annoys me, keeps me awake, disturbs my rest.

What is the difference between the two? The stream was actually louder than a trickle from a toilet that keeps filling, or a leaky faucet.

I think the answer is how I framed the noise. The stream, I told myself, is soothing, natural, a white noise that is calming and peaceful. It’s a good thing.

The leaky faucet or ever-filling toilet…nothing soothing about those sounds, and I feel like I have to get up and address the issue. To ignore it would be to keep myself tossing and turning all night.

It’s all about the frame I put around the noise, and the story I tell myself.

Ah ha…

I wonder how else I demonstrate this principle in my life?

I just saw this a perfect example of this, using the phrases “I don’t” vs “I can’t” (H/T to Akash Karia). When you frame a choice by saying “I can’t” have dessert, skip exercising, etc., you’re giving up your power of choice. When you frame your decision with “I don’t,” you’re the one in control. You take responsibility for your actions. “I don’t miss working out” puts you in the driver’s seat.

It’s subtle, but powerful.

How much of our view of life is based on the frames we put around our actions, or the actions of others?

True, there are exceptions to this principle. But in general, the frame we put around a situation makes a world of difference in how we respond, how we remember it, and how we see ourselves.

Are you a strong person, working through the challenges of your life? Or are you a victim, wondering why things don’t work out and why you can’t make progress? Do you operate out of “I do” and “I don’t,” or out of “I have to” and “I can’t” terms?

If you realize you need to change the frame you’re using, you can do that. You have the power to choose how you see life.

I’m talking to myself as I write this. I have days when the negatives slip in and overwhelm. That happens to most people, and helps us relate to each other. Who doesn’t understand the power of a bad day to temporarily dim enthusiasm and energy?

But if a bad day is deflating, a good day is uplifting, and empowering.

When I remember I’ve risen to the challenge in the past, I’m encouraged to do it again. And again. And again. Even the smallest accomplishments help keep me going.

The key is framing…just like the sound of the stream. The sound that is so soothing as I drift off to sleep comes from the water passing over rocks…barriers to the water making its way.

Could the barriers in my life work with my energy, my life force, to create purpose, power, and even soothing results?

The impeded stream is the one that sings.  ~ Wendell Berry

I found my purpose, and you can find yours too. Learn the formula to choose your purpose, to empower yourself. It starts with your decision to create the life you want.


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