David Knopf - Don’t let the simple things get you down

10/15/2013 12:00 AM

10/14/2013 11:19 AM

The keystone of my positive-reframing initiative is to take whatever life hands me and pretend it’s a good thing.

Some would argue this is nothing more than self-deception, but I always say if the dog won’t hunt you can take it to a wildlife preserve.

My wife studied psychology before she came to her senses and became a librarian, and she taught me about positive reframing. I ran with it, or at least limped forward at a somewhat accelerated clip.

For a person with no carpentry skills and sloth-like dexterity,


the reframing of your personal mental basement is the only way to go. I nail it every time.

Let’s say life hands me lemons; of course, I make lemonade. If life hands me limes, I make limeade. If life hands me gators, I take the first highway out of Dodge and don’t stop until I reach Ypsilanti, Mich.

I used to let simple things get me down. The wind would blow gently and I’d somehow perceive it as a cold wind a-blowin’. It would drizzle a bit, and I’d imagine a rainy night in Georgia. If it happened to be a Monday, I’d start hearing Carpenters songs.

Talk about the blues.

Then my wife convinced me it’s not so much what’s out there, but what we make of it.

Now it can rain cats and dogs, and I’ll hum “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” I can be stuck in a blizzard and be the only person in the truck stop whistling “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”

Through direct personal and often painful experience I’ve learned not to do this around truck drivers with perishable loads and families with little children.

You may remember me being conflicted by an impulse for efficiency and struggles with laziness. I used to rationalize it as life giving me an active mind and the inclination to sit around all day and use it.

Being active mentally is a good thing, but when combined with an inclination for inertia, pound by pound I started resembling Mount Rushmore with additional heads.

Reframing extra tonnage into something attractive was more than even I could manage.

So now when life hands me things — trust me, life is always handing me things — instead of carrying them all from the car at once, I’ll make two trips, even three.

My wife, the person positive-reframing guru disciples call “The Clean One,” likes it because now when I go upstairs I no longer carry a sloshing coffee cup, a bowl of ice cream topped with peanuts, an overfilled 32-ounce pop, the newspaper and seven loose, unrelated sheets of paper, including the lyrics to my latest song, at once.

I’ll make several trips and feel good about it, knowing that whatever calories and exercise benefits a trip upstairs delivers have been doubled, even tripled with three trips.

Forgetfulness is the curse of senior citizenship, but I’ve reframed it and now see it as a good thing. Say I forget my phone downstairs and need to charge it, no big deal! I hobble downstairs, thinking, “Hey, there go 15 calories!”

I’m such a glass-half-full kind of guy that every so often I forget something intentionally just so I can make another trip. I hate exercising as an activity in and of itself, but in the service of positive reframing, I’ll make that extra trip and feel good about it.

So now I live in a house that reframing built. I may be headed for that Unreframable Reality in the Sky, but there’s nothing that says I can’t get there any way I want.


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