You probably know this from experience: When your perspective changes, your mood turns on a dime. You suddenly and quite completely feel a different emotion.
I remember hearing a story about a man and his three young children riding the subway that illustrates the emotion-changing power of perspective. The three kids were loud. They were annoying the other passengers, and the father was just sitting there doing nothing about it.
A woman sitting across from the father put up with it for a long time, but she finally felt that something had to be said. So she spoke as calmly as she could: "Don't you think you should control your kids a little better?" That was as civil as she could be, and it was with some effort she remained that civil. She was appalled a father could be so irresponsible about his kids and so inconsiderate to the other passengers in the subway.
The father replied with a bleak, weary look on his face that they had just come from their mothers' (his wife's) funeral and he didn't really know what to do.
The woman said her feelings changed instantly from anger to compassion. When your perspective changes, your emotions change.
A good reframe can create a similar emotional shift in many different kinds of circumstances, and you can create reframes deliberately. I'll give you a little taste from my new book. It is an example of what I call a "comparison reframe."
In an experiment, people were asked to do a simple task — to complete the sentence, "I'm glad I'm not a..." They completed the sentence five times.
After doing this simple exercise, they were happier with their lives. Their "life satisfaction" was improved from doing the exercise.
Another group of volunteers were asked to complete a different sentence: "I wish I were a..." After this exercise, they were less satisfied with their lives.
Here's an important principle that can change your life: Your happiness, to a large extent, depends on what you are comparing your life to right now. And you can voluntarily and easily change what you are comparing your life to at any moment you choose. When you do, the new comparison reframes your circumstances.
If you'd like to learn more about this important moodraising skill, including the different kinds of reframes and some practical methods for creating good ones, check out our new book: Viewfinder.