Mention of suicide. Please do not continue reading if the content will upset you in any capacity. If you do need help, please call The Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 <3
Frames are wonderfully useful simple things. We use them all the time. They are used in most aspects of our lives, many times without us even realizing it. The way things are framed determines everything from what something looks like to its function in our world.
We worry about frames pretty often as well. At least I do. Whether there are termites in the frame of my house. If the picture frame I hung is straight. If that accident messed up the frame of my car.
For something so simple, useful, and prolific in our everyday lives, most of us tend to overlook the frame that makes all of these things make sense. The way we frame our perception.
As Marines, we are taught that discipline is instant willing obedience to orders. Stimulus and response. Action. Reaction. In life or death situations, this is a useful frame of thinking to ensure your survival. It is basic, raw, and primal. But, when you approach your entire life that way it causes issues. You don’t need to try it. It ends badly, trust me.
After I was retired, I kept that stimulus and response framework that I had used while on active duty.
That thought/behavior pattern continued until I reached a breaking point. Mine was sitting on the edge of a bed feeling the steel of the slide of the 1991 scrape against my teeth. Trying to gather up the courage to make the pain stop.
I am glad I couldn’t.
My framing was all screwed up.
Now, there were many factors to take into account. Chronic pain, side effects from seven different meds, and a whole mess of life’s circumstances that I am also very thankful are behind me. Most of the things on that list were and still are beyond my power to control. What I realized was in power was my outlook on ANY given situation, and how I respond.
Man, was that a powerful realization. How we frame our thoughts affects how we perceive our world. If it sounds simple. That’s because it is.
If everything were black and white.
Our world would be just left and right.
No beauty to be seen.
People confuse simple and easy all the time.
I have found myself making that mistake more than once. But simple things become easy when we practice them. We just have to make that conscious choice and put forth the effort to be at least as aware of ourselves as we pretend to be of others.
Recently, I took my boys camping at a river near our house. I enjoy using those opportunities to teach them things. This trip, as with most to the river, we built a small dam out of stones and dirt to create a pool for us to lay and relax in. It was wonderful to watch the twins work together on this little project. Between my direction and their muscles, we had a nice little pool to enjoy the water in fairly short order.
Collin and I were laying in the pool, chit-chatting and watching the water spill over and between the stones at the top of our dam. My son remarked that watching the water go over the rocks up close looked so fast and rough. He was right it did.
From up close it looked downright violent.
So, I told him to stand up, and when he did, I asked him what it looked like. He squinted his eyes and leaned down a bit searching for what he had just witnessed not 15 seconds before.
He took so long to respond that I had to ask again to make sure he’d heard me.
He said, “Dad, I can’t even see the spot I was looking at anymore.” And without missing a beat, his brother said, “The water you were looking for is gone anyway, so what does it matter?”
To which Collin replied, “I guess things change when you take a step back.”
I had been trying to teach myself that lesson for years. They got it in a weekend at the river. Lessons are everywhere in business and life. Shift your focus and you will find them.
Be Mindful. Be Kind. Be Prepared.