Have you ever been waiting in a long grocery line and felt angry and frustrated at the situation? What about when you’re in the grocery store and people are in your way so you have to wait for them to leave before you can get your eggs or milk or yogurt? How about when you’re driving and someone dangerously weaves into your lane to cut you off and force you to hit the breaks? These things and others typically make people angry and upset. That is the natural response. But anger is not healthy. Anger and stress not only is bad for your mental and emotional health, but it has been proven to manifest negatively in your physical health as well. So for the sake of your own health and happiness, learning to manage these daily frustrations is key.
Reframing situations is the trick to achieving health and happiness by removing stress and frustration from your daily life. Reframe the grocery line from being frustrated at everyone in line in front of you to being understanding that everyone in the line is feeling the same frustration too. That you’re not alone in the grocery line and instead you’re all in it together. Reframe the people shopping in the grocery store from obstacles in your life where you matter the most to understanding that people shopping in the grocery store may have worse lives than you, and you are the obstacle in their life. Reframe the reckless driver who endangered your life and bruised your ego as a worried parent desperately trying to get their sick child to the hospital.
At the end of the day, there are many ways to describe reality. Specifically, describing reality to yourself is something you have 100% control over. And it is also something you are guaranteed to never be 100% correct or certain that your description of reality is accurate. You do not have perfect information, so when you assume the worst, realize that you may probably be wrong in your assumption. Thus, for health and happiness, pause your certainty in your assumptions and instead allow for a more positive description of reality to come forth. Take that one, barring advice to the contrary.
This concept comes from the talk This is Water by David Foster Wallace . It is a great talk if you want to hear him go into more detail and depth about this issue.