You find yourself in a job that makes you angry or in a relationship that frustrates you. You are always worried about money, health or your kids. The more you focus on these, the more difficult or challenging they become.
What if you were able to instantly reframe these situations to something more positive, more optimistic, or more opportunity-focused? To do this, first stop and notice that you are obsessing about something negative. Then, ask this question, “What could make this better?”
Why asking this question can change everything:
- Asking this question immediately changes the energy from negative to positive. You are now focused on solutions, changes or improvements that are anabolic and optimistic. Any situation can appear negative; reframing it doesn’t change the situation, it changes your energy and attitude about it. You access all the benefits of positive energy as you now see the situation or event in a new light. Both positive and negative energies are available to you in this moment; choose the one that provides the greatest benefit, impact and results.
- Asking this question gives you room to brainstorm and invent possibilities. By shifting from negative to positive, and by asking what “could” not what “will” make this better, you give yourself permission to consider every possibility. This creates the space for you to invent, consider, ask, dream and imagine. As is said, the best way to have a great idea is to first have a lot of ideas, brainstorm by yourself then include others. Create a robust list of responses of what could make whatever situation or event better. By seeing these, opportunities that were previously out of view come clearly into view – your world expands and improves.
- Asking this question makes you completely aware of the ‘now.’ For you to consider new things, you have to shift out of your stories and distractions and focus right here, right now. This additional attention gives you the freedom to be present – to notice, consider, then choose; it helps you respond instead of react. You give yourself permission to be in the moment to appreciate all that can come from it – or as author and mindfulness-based stress reduction expert Jon Kabat-Zinn shares in his book Mindfulness For Beginners, becoming aware in this moment helps us gather information to improve what can happen in the next moment.
I watch places in my own life where I default to a story or block – I let the negative take over and throw up my hands. A challenge with a friend makes me question the friendship (I say, “Why do I even bother?”). A disagreement with a client or colleague makes me angry, (I say, “Why do I have to make all the effort?”). Or, I could look at each situation, appreciate it for what it is then ask, “What could make this better?” or even, “What could I do to make this better?” How might I connect differently, be more patient, be more clear in communication, be more open, be more something? What if I owned improving it?
Is it my responsibility to change? Maybe. Is it my responsibility to treasure and create value in the moments of my life? Absolutely. This is best done with a positive and appreciative outlook, not one constantly mired in conflict, worry and pessimism.
So, as you see any situation or event in life, ask this great question, “What could make this better?” It doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate what is happening in this moment; rather, it simply is a reminder that you can always add value to every moment by noticing and focusing on the positive. Asking how to make it better keeps you dreaming, inventing and inspired. Imagine the world this thinking could create.
(And in the workplace, look at every time you connect with a customer or another employee and ask the same question. You will discover countless ways to stand out, add value and make a difference.)