Bonjour Royal Friends!
Welcome to my ‘tongue-in-chic’ happiness lifestyle blog from a funny princess point of view!
I’d like to talk to you today about banishing one word from your vocabulary to boost your happiness and your success …in all aspects of your life. That word is “Problem.”
If I had a dollar for every task I viewed as a problem when I was a young lawyer, I’d be writing this article from a 9-bedroom villa overlooking the French Rivera…that I bought with cash.
Funny thing about calling something a problem. It creates anxiety. Anxiety makes my mind spin like a squirrel on a twirling bird feeder. I was stunned to make the following discovery of how banishing one word from my inner self-talk boosted my ability to find solutions for even the most difficult assignments.
THE PEN MAY BE MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD BUT WORDS CAN UNDERCUT
I was working in a corporate law firm for about a year when my boss’s boss handed me an important, high visibility assignment. I was completely stumped. I didn’t know where to begin. I didn’t even know what the issue was. To paraphrase what was going on in my mind, “Houston, we have a problem.”
Even after sustained thinking I came up with goose eggs. I became increasingly anxious and worried. What will happen if I don’t figure out this problem? Will I lose my job? Will I be demoted?
I didn’t realize that by characterizing the task as a problem, my brain was focusing energy in the wrong direction. Picture a lighthouse beaming on a stormy night, its purpose to help ships on the roiling sea, but its lantern’s turned backward toward land.
Suddenly I had an epiphany. A lightbulb went bright in my head. I heard an inner voice instruct me not to tell myself I had a “problem” but instead, think of the assignment as a “challenge.”
This tiny change created a titanic shift in my thinking. I felt something physical happen, as if a sort of a brain fog was sprayed off me creating a new, welcomed clarity. I felt empowered as opposed to feeling demoralized. Within a short time, I solved the knotty legal issue.
REFRAMING OUR THOUGHTS IS THE KEY
I didn’t understand at the time that I had stumbled upon what the up-and-coming field of Positive Psychology would call “reframing.” Reframing is the idea that if you look at something in a different way, you will experience it in a different way. This concept is beautifully reflected in the words of one of my yoga teachers when she said, “It’s not what’s happening to you that’s important, it’s what you tell yourself is happening that’s important.”
When I was dealing with what I characterized as a problem, my thoughts, instead of helping me find a solution, were churning out of control with fear. Instead of being solution-focused, I was problem-focused. What do we do when we have a challenge? We rise to meet it! What I had unwittingly done by using the word “challenge” instead of “problem” was reframing my truth in a way that helped me open up to options and solutions that weren’t available to my brain when I was knee deep in problem-centric stress mode.
From then on I was careful to watch my words and use the word challenge, not problem, where the idea of a challenge served me better.
BEYOND PROBLEM VERSUS CHALLENGE
The concept of reframing for a positive mindset applies in all areas of life. The candy manufacturers know this well. Who hasn’t noticed at Halloween time when little people’s pillowcases fill up with “Fun Size” candies? “Cockroach Size” would be more accurately descriptive, seeing as the original candy sizes where a whole lot bigger. But no one seems to mind.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I used reframing principles to help me maintain my equilibrium and yes, even my joy. On the days I faced chemo treatments I called them my “Spa” treatments instead. On the days I faced radiation therapy, I told myself I was receiving, “healing angel treatments.”
I have long-since eschewed the word problem for its more productive substitute…challenge. Although I’m not writing this article from that 9-bedroom villa overlooking the French Rivera…bought with cash, with my new perspective, I got the better view.
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Bonjour! I’m Princess Diane Von Brainisfried™
Motivational Speaker. Certified Life Coach. Award-Winning Writer. Breast Cancer Survivor. Offering seminars and coaching using humor to inspire happiness.
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