That's Good! and Other Reframes

In one of W. Clement Stone's books, he wrote that whenever someone came to him with a problem, he would always say, "That's good!" This puzzled people sometimes. They might be talking about a serious problem, and Stone would answer back with enthusiasm.

Years ago when I first read this, I thought it was stupid, pie-in-the-sky bullpucky. But I've thought a lot about it over the years and I've tried it, and I've decided that maybe there are some things that sound stupid but are really smart.

When anything happens, usually some aspects of it are an advantage and some aspects of it are a disadvantage. For example, when you buy a new car, you will have to take it in to get repaired less often than your old car. That's one advantage. Maybe it gets better gas mileage. There's another advantage. But it is more likely to get stolen. That's a disadvantage. And your insurance payments are higher. You get the idea.

When you first hear about a problem, your first reaction is probably to see only the disadvantages. This puts you in a bad mood — a state of mind that's not only unpleasant as an experience, but also makes you less effective at dealing with the problem. So this normal, automatic, negative reaction to problems would be a good thing to change. I suggest trying Stone's method. It will take some practice, but it can eventually become a habit.

When a problem lands in your lap, say, "That's good!" (Note: Don't necessarily say it out loud. It will make some people mad.) And then immediately start doing two things: 1) look for the advantages that might be wrapped up in this "problem" (which may be difficult at first), and 2) look to see how you can turn it to your advantage, and take steps to make it so.

This approach will make you more effective. You can plainly see why. There's no time wasted on bemoaning what already exists, and action is taken immediately to turn it to your advantage. No energy is wasted getting into a worse mood. Your attitude toward it is open. There's nothing fixed or permanent about your viewpoint.

When you change the way you think about something, it changes the way you feel about it. And when you change the way you feel about it, your actions change too — in this case, for the better. Try it.

If you have trouble at first learning to do this, that's good!

If you practice this way of reacting to problems enough, you can some day be as good at it as Richard Bandler, one of the co-founders of NLP.

When a student of Bandler's (who was teaching a class on hypnosis) complained that his house was being bugged (monitored with a recording device), Bandler's reply was, "What a chance to talk to these people."

Bandler had ingrained the reframing attitude so thoroughly in his thoughts that he reeled off idea after idea. Why not play hypnotic tapes over and over in your house for the listeners? Why not practice all of your deep trance inductions and put the people bugging you into trance and give them hypnotic suggestions?

Bandler didn't look for what was wrong with being bugged. Anybody could do that. Everybody would automatically do that. He looked for a way to take advantage of it.

You can learn to have the same mental habit. Find the advantage and think of the "adversity" in terms of the advantage.

Has something ever happened to you that you thought at first was a bad thing, but then later you were really glad it happened? Keep that memory in your mind whenever something bad happens. You don't know what the future holds. This might be good. You might as well assume it will be, and start making it so.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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