I was listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR recently and Neil Conan was talking to Ellen Langer whose books include Counter Clockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility and Mindfulness and The Power of Mindful Learning.
A man called in and said that he uses mindfulness as a way to change a negative experience into a neutral or positive experience. He gave the example of cleaning the bathroom. He said that when his wife asks him to clean the bathroom, instead of saying to himself “I have to clean the bathroom” –ugh, he reframes it and says “I get to clean the bathroom.” He explained that he consciously considers all the people who don’t have their physical health and can’t clean, who have lost their homes and don’t have a bathroom to clean or (my addition) have lost their spouse who might have asked them to clean. Suddenly, it becomes a chore of appreciation rather than an irritating request by a spouse.
I wonder how you can reframe things in your life and relationships; it can reduce external and internal conflict and may bring you some surprising peacefulness. I reframe my teenager’s messy rooms all the time. I think: it’s not that they’re showing disrespect to me, it’s that they’re not insecure and anxious to please others and they’re relaxed enough with me to let me see their “real” selves. See how this works ;-).