The Ingles Advantage and Reframing for Happiness

Last night I went to a step class at my local Gold’s Gym. It’s not a class I typically take so I’m hurting a little today. I had a Morning Mantra that had me doing all kinds of healthy things (stay tuned for my next article about mantras), one of which was having a kale salad for dinner (I’ll share the recipe later; it sounds disgusting considering kale used to be used only for decoration, but it’s really delicious). But I was out of kale. That meant a quick trip to Ingles on the way home. Ingles is a Southeastern grocery chain with about 200 locations, and one of those companies that makes you wonder how they stay in business because they have massive inventories of food and I never see many people shopping there.


Their slogan and rewards program is called The Ingles Advantage, but I didn’t understand exactly what that meant until my visit that night. It helped me realize how important re-framing is to our happiness.First let me explain re-framing. In the simplest of terms it means to look at a situation in a different way (hopefully better). Re-framing comes from cognitive therapy that was developed by psychiatrist Aaron Beck in the 1960s. He found that he could improve the moods of depressed people by helping them to consciously shift their thoughts from negative to positive. Re-framing refers to any conscious shift in a person’s outlook. If you’ve read “The Bucket Principle” then you know I get all giddy at the idea of people leading their lives in a conscious way.  The truth is that if we are aware and conscious then we always have the ability to see things in whatever light we chose. That means you are controlling your circumstances rather than being controlled by them.

Enough of the technical stuff; I just include it because if you are a nerd like me then you will want to do your own extended research.

Back to the Ingles Advantage. As I was getting ready to check out I saw a very interesting magazine that was strategically placed next to the register. The merchandisers call those impulse items because they have the ability to magically make you buy stuff you don’t need at a moment’s notice.

The magazine was an amazing ensemble from National Geographic entitled, “Your Brain: A User’s Guide (100 Things You Never Knew).”

And how was I supposed to resist that? It’s one of those magazines that I could spend hours with in the bathroom. Let’s call it constipation content.

The check out kid, Nathan, looked like he had to ride his bike to work because he wasn’t old enough for a license, but he was very friendly. He rang up my magazine: $12.99. He just looked at me and asked with amazement, “Did you know this was $13? You can probably get most of this information off the Internet don’t you think?”

He was obviously very proud that he could direct such an old person to this new resource called the Internet.

I thought for a few seconds about this kid’s perspective (frame) of the situation and this is what I said to him. I first asked him to pretend that I made $100 an hour, but by the look on Nathan’s face that was a number that wasn’t in his realm of reality.

I then acknowledged to Nathan that I indeed could likely find the information from the magazine on the Internet. But that it would take me at least two hours of research. So I posed a question to him. “Considering my time is worth $100 an hour, which would make more sense, buying a $13 magazine now or spending a few hours of my valuable time (about $200) with the hope that I could recreate the information?”

At first Nathan was more than befuddled, but then appeared as though a world of new possibilities had opened up to him. He thanked me very graciously for the lesson and I went on my way with a renewed sense of optimism that Generation Y was fully capable of re-framing.

The situation got me thinking about all of the opportunities people have to see things from a different perspective in their everyday lives. People who turn negatives into positives are the best. It reminded me of one of my favorite inspirational stories about a boy who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy after his umbilical cord cut off his oxygen flow during birth. His name is Rick Hoyt and his doctors told his parents to institutionalize him: that he would be nothing more than a vegetable. Fortunately with the help of a wise doctor (if you don’t like the answer you get from one place then seek it out from another) his parents were able to see the situation from a different perspective although even they could not have guessed the depth of the possibilities. I can’t imagine going through that as a parent. Long story short, Rick graduated from Boston University with a degree in Special Education in 1993. He will be confined to a wheelchair his entire life, unable to speak, but fully able to communicate intelligently. Yet somehow Rick has participated alongside his father Dick in a total of 247 Triathlons including six Ironman distances (2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike followed by a 26.2 mile run) by means of being pulled in a boat, riding on a tandem bike, and being pushed in a stroller. This year Rick will be 51 and Dick will be 73 and they will only compete in 20-25 races this year. It’s clear that a change in perspective turned Rick’s disability into an opportunity, giving life to Dick and inspiration to countless others in ways that he could never have imagined.

How can you possibly shift perspectives to change your life and the lives of people around you? I believe that every situation carries with it an opportunity and that opportunities always present themselves if you are open to them. Perhaps if you keep your eyes open, you’ll find your own “Ingles Advantage” the next time you’re running errands.

Please share your re-framing stories by leaving comments and connecting with people in The Bucket Principle Community. It will give others permission to change their perspective also.


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