Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

Reframe Your Thinking to Change Your Attitude

Are you facing a difficult or unpleasant situation in your life? You may not be able to change it, but you can change the way you think about it. That’s because you have 100% control over your attitude — the way you choose to respond to whatever life hands you.

Years ago, my husband and I decided not to replace my car once the lease was up. The plan was that since we work together, we would share his car until we could pay cash for a second car. We figured that would take six months or so.

I won’t say this new arrangement was enjoyable. Actually, I hated it. I felt like I’d lost my freedom. My wings were clipped; no more spontaneity for me. I felt sorry for myself because if I wasn’t being “chaperoned” as a passenger in my husband’s car, I was having to ask permission to borrow it. Let me just put it this way: I was not the most pleasant passenger.

I like to be in charge. I want to decide when to change lanes, which exit to take and which radio station to listen to. After all, I’d had my own car for decades, something that symbolized my independence. This new arrangement was limiting.

We’d been commuting together for about three months when I realized it wasn’t the situation that was intolerable. It was me. I was making myself miserable, not recognizing that the nicest guy in the world was willing to take me anywhere I wanted to go whenever I wanted to get there. I was ungrateful and horribly self-centered. I needed an attitude change, and I needed it quick.

I decided I had to reframe my thinking because the situation wasn’t going to change anytime soon. I decided that rather than see myself as a pathetic, dependent child, I would see myself as a woman of privilege: I have a driver!

Every day I was driven back and forth to work, during which time I was free to chat, read, write, think, knit or nap. I never had to wash a car the way I did when I had my own car. I didn’t have to pump gas into it, insure it, register it or have it “smogged” — all because my driver is also my maintenance man. Several times a year when I need to go in a different direction, I get a rental car, which allows me to try out some brand-new fancy car and get my fix behind the wheel. See? A different way of looking at the same situation.

I don’t know what you are facing today, but I do know that it is within your power to choose how you will respond to that situation. You can choose to be miserable, to worry and doubt — and be a pain in the neck to everyone around you. Or you can reframe your thinking. You can choose to see things in a different light, from a new angle and in a way that will cause you to be grateful.

By the way, we’ve become so comfortable with our one-car arrangement, we find ourselves hoping it will never end. Eighteen years later, you cannot imagine how many thousands of dollars we haven’t spent to own and maintain a second car.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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