Let’s Go on an Adventure: Reframing Life’s Challenges

Life can throw many obstacles at us these days, from unemployment challenges and the growing financial concerns many are facing to unexpected health emergencies and generally over-scheduled lives. Wouldn’t it help to have a simple tool to get you through some of those especially hard moments?

This past summer, while out for a walk one day with my 4-year-old son, Henry, and one of our aging golden retrievers, Abbey, I stumbled upon the simplicity of this reframing tool. It was the heat of the day and we were walking through our neighborhood to the local park. As we headed down the sidewalk towards the park, I noticed a dirt path that seemed like it would be a short cut to the park. “Let’s follow this path,” I said, “I think we’ll get there faster.” Well, one minute up this dirt path, set between two rows of houses and void of any trees or shade, my previously enthusiastic son was suddenly moving very slowly. “I know,” I sympathized, “There’s no shade here so it’s hotter. Do you want to walk back and stay on the sidewalk instead?” Henry was not interested in retreating, so onward we trudged. Several stops and gulps from the water bottle later with only a dozen or so yards traveled, I spotted a turn we could make to get back to the shaded sidewalk of the neighborhood streets. “Look!” I said “Let’s turn that way and I’m sure we’ll be almost there.” Slowly and painfully, Henry, Abbey and I moved in that direction. “Come on!” I urged, feeling the heat getting to me too. His slow pace was making me impatient and feeling bad about my choice to take the “shortcut.” “Just around that bend,” I told him, “Not too much longer.”

Here’s where the magic happened! Without consciously deciding to “reframe” the situation, I said to Henry, “Let’s make it an adventure! What do you think we’ll discover around that turn?” Suddenly the heat-induced lethargy seemed to lift. “Yeah!” he said with enthusiasm, “Let’s have an adventure!” In no time, we made that turn and followed the last stretch of the dry hot path to a shaded oasis ahead.

Ahh, the cool air immediately re-energized us for the final shaded block to the park.

It wasn’t until a few days later when I relayed this story to my health coach that she pointed out, and I was able to take in, the brilliance of this experience.

Reframing is simply shifting your perception by considering something in a new way.

Life can be hard. Our challenges are real and serious. Even fun outings that we choose to take on can have parts we struggle through. But sometimes, like a flip of a switch, just the right words can turn it into an exciting adventure.

Try it out for yourself. In those moments of struggle and challenge, reframe the situation for yourself and invite yourself on an adventure! Let’s see what we can discover around that next bend.

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