I have been having a great time re-reading The Happiness Project and remembering it’s potent effect on my thinking. I love the distilled nature of wisdom in books, as though everything the author writes about effortlessly came to him or her in the span of the time that it takes you to read it. The murky mystery of what exactly is being uncovered through careful life experience is presented to the reader as though it was always unwrapped, crystal clear, and polished.
In reality I feel as though I discover life lessons more in the way of a stereotypical coal miner. ( I actually know nothing about mining other than 19th century pictures of child laborers covered in soot) I imagine myself digging and digging and mostly getting dirty, sore, and tired. The process of subterranean excavation yields muscles and perhaps a pay-off. But then again, occasionally it doesn’t yield up any wisdom.
So, I reiterate that I love to receive other’s hard-dug diamonds (or coal) nuggets of wisdom and then combine them into my own mental framework. Jean Piaget referred to this as assimilation – the process of taking new information and experiences and incorporating them into our old framework. In this way we also modify what we’re assimilating, and we modify our own framework.
What I most have gleaned from my pecking method of reading Rubin’s book this time (a page here, a page there) is a reminder of the mental action of “re-framing.” This has been particularly useful this dreary week as I’ve been tired and slow, unable to see a big picture anyway.
Re-framing involves taking the way we think about something, and changing our parameters to set the conflict or idea into a new context. (As I’m writing this, I remember that I wrote a little bit about re-framing moral conflicts when I reviewed Christian Smith’s book Lost in Transition.)
These are some common ways that I have re-frame my own thoughts about things.
– Instead of driving around the lot 3 times looking for a space at the grocery store, I tell myself I am getting a lot of exercise and park at the end of a row right when I arrive.
– Instead of thinking about how rainy it has been this week and how tired I am, I imagine my vegetables at Farmer Dave’s receiving water from the heavens and growing beautiful.
– Instead of being disappointed that I work on the weekends, I remind myself that I love what I do, and I’m able to make a difference in someone’s life. Additionally, this is only for a short time, and I will miss it when I’m done.
– I changed my list of “hard” books to a list of “important” books that I want to read. Although some of the books on the list are indeed mentally taxing (City of God) there were others that I excluded because they weren’t “hard enough” to qualify. Having re-framed this issue to be one of books that I think cool people read, a totally subjective opinion anyway, I included books that I am more excited about, and should help me reach my goal of 15 “Important” Books this year more easily.
What things do you re-frame in your life? What are things you probably should so you can avoid conflicts or lack-of-progress?