Problem or opportunity…? It’s all in how you frame it.
Such is ‘the framing effect.’ One of the tricks of the mind, and a key to how one is able to think things through, is in how something is framed. If we think something is a problem, then it’s a problem. If we think a problem is an opportunity, the problem might become a good opportunity. If math homework is tedious, figuring out why it is also necessary, may improve the intended results of the math homework, i.e. a better math grade.
How something gets framed is not a simple matter. Influences, preferences and all array of competing interests can affect how something gets framed in our mind. Bad memories may cause a problem to feel exacerbated. Difficulty understanding how to solve a problem might make a situation worse. Focusing in on personal problem-solving tendencies, and the mood that gets stamped upon any single problem, can significantly benefit ones ability to improve situations.
How a problem is framed, and how we are able to understand how we frame a problem, is a product of rational thinking. It requires a metacognitive view, or in simple terms, a little reflection. By analyzing our habits in framing a problem, asking questions like what can be gained? what can be learned? or what can be helped? at the outset of solving a problem, real shifts in how we solve problems can be accomplished. Innovative thinking is a by-product of effective problem-solving methods, or framing problems as opportunities. The rational thinking needs to be bound by realistic thinking, as the solutions and innovations need to work on practical terms.
Decisions and choices can also be guided by the framing effect. For those who have difficulties making decisions or choices, honing in on what is to be gotten out of the decision, can streamline the process. It may seem like self-serving thinking, but far from it, framing a problem in a positive light is usually the best way to find win-win decisions.
They say that every cloud has a silver lining and that opportunity is what you make of it. These adages are entirely true, but what isn’t said, is that all it takes is the individual thinking about their thinking, to tap into seeing the world in this way.
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