When I was little I hated fall. Fall is when the air starts to get cooler. I don't like being cold. Fall is when summer ends. I don't want summer to end. Fall is a time of change. I don't like change.
This year, though, I've been looking forward to fall for weeks. Fall has not changed, clearly, and I don't really think I've changed either. What has changed is my framing of the season.
While the framing effect, in which people stray from a rational choice depending on the way an item is presented, is considered a cognitive bias, I don't think this always means it must be avoided. To the contrary, I think that framing can at times be a positive tool to help us find motivation, energy, and even purpose in our lives.
At one point in my college career I decided to take up distance running. Previously I had never run much further than 5km, but now I was routinely running around 7 miles with minimal additional training to reach that extra distance. Physically I was already capable of adding those additional four miles, but accomplishing the extra distance required a mental shift. While good for your physical and mental health, running goes against the natural desire of your mind and body to conserve energy and avoid pain. Shifting to distance running required a mental shift; a mental reframing. Instead of running on the treadmill purely for exercise, I now took it as an opportunity to explore new parts of the town. Instead of thinking about how sore and tired I was, I focused on how good I felt considering how far I had come. The circumstances weren't really any different, but my approach to them and thought pattern about them changed, and that made the difference between three miles and seven. There's a similar shift in my view of this season.
I've loved photography for a long time–since I was young, in fact–but only this year did I decide to fully lean in to that and regularly pursue the genres of photography I enjoy most, chiefly landscape photography. One of my goals for the year was to go on a hike each month of this year specifically for the purpose of photography, and, with the motivation of a new YouTube channel, I have faithfully pursued that goal. Spending a significant portion of time not only out in nature, but focused on the appearance of that nature, has reframed my view of the changing seasons.
Each new season now brings with it new opportunities. Each new season certainly has its downsides, to be sure: winter was quite cold, spring was a bit dull after the snow and before the leaves, summer could be very hot, and now fall is bringing around colder weather once again. It's so easy to be focused on the downsides of any change. But what if we, instead, focused on the positives? Fall brings a fleeting opportunity to capture beautiful colored leaves. All summer my surroundings have looked quite similar, but with fall and the approach of winter comes a fresh new look to even the most familiar scenes.
Fall hasn't changed. I haven't changed. But my attitude towards the situation has changed. Instead of regretting that the summer has passed, this year I'm choosing to embrace the opportunity of the new season, use something I don't like as an opportunity for something I do, and enjoy the present moment.