Hey John,

I am married with three kids. They are nice children. My husband of twenty years is a great husband. Although we are not particularly wealthy, it would seem that our difficult poor days are behind us. With all this good stuff in my life I still find myself being negative about things. These are things that go wrong, but my take on them is too negative. This isn’t depression, but what? Age? I don’t yell at my son about his homework, but it seems like an extra burden for me. Reading to my youngest daughter seems a chore as of late. How do you stop looking on the stressful side of so many events taking place?

Ms. Gustine Grim



Dear GG,

Many of us parents would agree that the above named chores can be taxing. However, it is possible you are engaging in quick thinking. That is, quickly considering a situation and deciding it’s worth (and stressful effort). A repetitive chore is often a drag. However, expanding your consideration for a little longer may reveal something you hadn’t seen. Your daughter will never be 14 years old, sitting on the bed, mesmerized by the story you are telling her. So the deeper truth is: tick, tick, tick toots; you’re almost out of time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. This is the process of reframing. It’s not looking at a half- full or empty glass and it’s not putting a positive spin on an event: it’s seeing the truth in a situation.

Reframing is the mental art of looking at situations deeper, longer, and usually more accurately.  It is sometimes almost a magical ability of altering an aggravation into something meaningful.  It also provides one the opportunity to add a large measure of gratitude for events usually hardly ever noticed.  The most efficient method of learning this important mental art is through example and continual practice. Again, reframing is The Truth about the situation.

The man was complaining:  “My new step kids are always running a few minutes late and often miss the bus.  As their mom has already left, it’s then myduty to pack them up and drive them to school.  It’s like they’re doing it on purpose, and it hacks me off in a big way”.  Upon deeper reflection, he realized: “You know, I think they’re missing the bus on purpose because they want to spend more time with me.  We usually rock on the way to school and have a fun time. Oh man, they’re doing this to get to spend time with me and to show me off.  I think I’ll If they get the bus on time on Monday, I’ll drive them the rest of the week. Showing ME off. Ha! It’s cool.” To continue with examples of applying a reframe to a situation:


The husband would leave work, get home, have supper with his wife, and then settle down to watch a little TV or type out an e-mail to the kids.

Reframe:  “I’m just a no big deal guy, and I’ve got this fine loving woman anxiously awaiting my arrival.  Plus, she’s been working like a dog cooking up something delicious just for me!  How incredible is that?  If I could have seen this in a crystal ball when I was 18, I would’ve freaked out. It’s amazing”


Situation:  The mother started to run angrily outside as soon as she saw her young kids getting playing in the mud.

Reframe:  “These babies will soon be fussin’ over their hair and broken fingernails.  This time is going to be short lived. I think I’ll go out and get the hose and make more mud for them.  I’m going to encourage them to make some nasty old mud pies and get every atom on their bodies dirty.  I’ll have fun hosing them down afterwards”.


Situation:  After a long day at work, Daddy was not exactly in the mood to sit down and do homework with the kids.  Although hewas a mediocre student with “spotty” homework completions back in the day, his kids ought to be able to get their homework done by themselves.

Reframe:  “The only thing my parents could have done to guarantee I’d do my homework would have been to sit down and do it with me.   Hmmm…..  Additionally, if my fourth grade son doesn’t understand what he’s doing in class, the only way to assure he’s going to pass is for me to review the chapter myself for a few minutes , then I’llbe his patient teacher.  Plus, I’ll give him some permanent memories of the two of us having significant times together, and I’ll be teaching him how to be a fine father himself someday”.


Situation: He suffers from FlatTire-a-Phobia: fear of a flat tire in an old Suburban where the spare is impossibly stored underneath the car. As he turned into his driveway, his car lurched: a flat tire! Aiieee! As bad words formed in his head and blood pressure quickly rose, a greater truth appeared to him…..

Reframe: Although he loathed flat tires, if there was any place on earth to get one, it would be right here, in his driveway, 20 feet from his compressor and extension hose. The perfect place for a flat. Ahhhhh….


(The Classic Toilet Seat Reframe)

Situation: “Why should I (the male) put the stupid seat down when I’m done if they don’t put it up when they’re done?!”

Reframe:  “I love getting 10 points of credit from women for putting out 1 point of effort! It’s important to her? Cool. This one’s a piece of cake”.


Situation:  Although she had said goodnight to her two children (in the same room) she heard them whispering back and forth to each other in the dark.  Her first thought was “they’re purposely disobeying me when I told them to go to sleep.”

Reframe:  These sweet babies.  They love each other’s company so much they want to talk with each other late into the night.  It won’t be long before they have their own houses far away from each other and won’t be able to ever do this again.  Let ‘em whisper to each other until they fall asleep.


This is not to be mistaken for a “make something good out of something terrible” type of silliness. There are some very difficult circumstances that are not reframeable.  Still, a vast majority of our lives bear a deeper look.  A two year old daughter begging to be held in the arms of her tired parent might be a chore, but a deeper look would reveal a very temporary opportunity to hold our child in our arms before they grow too big to ever be held by us again.  Sometimes, all it takes is a deeper look to see the importance of a situation. Practice plenty and ye shall reap the rewards of a life properly appreciated.