What Are Problems?
Almost all situations we perceive as problems are global and mostly built on ideas of uncertainty and anticipation fueled by our wild imagination of a fictional reality. Our global problems are anticipatory and anthropological. Like inequality, racism etc. And the rest of them are certainly because of our past actions. Like climate change and threat of nuclear wars, etc. Some are really personal that are simply challenges to our self control like hedonistic indulges or indulges in food.
Below is all the ways we can think of problems, their solutions and the means of arriving at them.
Get a PERSPECTIVE:
Monks have problems too:
Believe it or not problems are so common, even monks have them. In fact, monks are simply common people who’ve learnt to accept what life throws at them. Stoics, the Greek philosophers, had divided life into two parts, problems that we’ve control over and problems that we’ve no say whatsoever.
We’re primarily going to get the one kind of problem that’s a result of just living life or just springs up because of your own past actions – the physical kind. You’re over weight because you eat too much and exercise too little or you’ve hearing problems, probably because you’ve lived way too long enough and become old. Being sick, of course, needs to be worked on consciously.
There’s no mystery:
Life is meant to be lived, not a mystery or a problem to be solved. We’re already living it without completely understanding the mystery of the universe. Trying to solve how we’re connected to one another, or how this beautiful day came into being is not possible in just one person’s lifetime. Just enjoy the deep mystery and do you part in preserving its awe.
No pain no gain:
In fact, mid life crises have been arriving early for most rich and fortunate young people because they don’t seem to know what to do with their beautifully laid out lives. They don’t have to strive for anything and they to wonder if there’s much to life at all. They painfully question if there’s a purpose and meaning to their life. Ask them, those are literally rich people’s problems.
Change your attitude:
Don’t be a cynic:
Whether you’re solving problems that threaten our immediate future like climate change and global disruptions by technology or dealing with a difficult relative, having an attitude of things won’t change won’t take you too far. If you try there’s a 50% chance things would work out. If you don’t try at all, your odds are at zero.
Prefer attitude over aptitude:
We were not born knowing everything about life. So, instead of worrying about our shortcoming, lets learn as we go. A difficulty is a hurdle or a threshold to be crossed. Its just that.
Start with thinking of yourself as a problem solver. That’s an empowering thought. Now internalize this. “I’m down for anything. That’s just easy instead of fighting everything.” When faced with an adversity, challenge or catastrophic situation, think what you can do now instead of what could have been.
Don’t complain of deprivation:
Here’s a cold fact. Even your mom doesn’t owe you anything. Once that deep truth sinks in, we realize we’re on our own to pick ourselves off when we fall and there’s no scope of finding fault in others for our misfortunes. Embrace challenges, and double down on your efforts after failures. Double down your frustration with action. Use this as momentum.
Think unstoppable resilience:
Resilience is the ability to bounce back after adversity. It gets strong with an interest for learning, trying harder after failing and following through on personal commitments. Its your power to believe in your irrationally. But resilience can become a liability if you’re not flexible enough to know where you have to stop being persistent. Find the right balance between perseverance and letting go.
Whichever way you want to look at it, every change brings with it an opportunity. If the change is favorable to our expectations, it brings abundance and prosperity. If the change is adversity, it brings an opportunity to learn a lesson.
Here are some Re-definitions:
Talking about problems as obstacles or hiccups to be aware of and to be overcome redefines them in our head. Such “problems” turn themselves into opportunities to grow ourselves.
Our problems become compounded by our unwillingness to put a band-aid and striving for an ultimate solution. There can also be many ways of doing things and you just happen to pick one. Then there’s the worry that someone else might label us incompetent or shallow with the reconciliation we’ve made.
A cynic can change a fine situation into an insurmountable problem, that is his unique gift. As Stephen Hawking said, “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
Redefining End goals:
When we don’t get a desired outcome, in the best case, we’ve proved to ourselves that we’ve tried hard enough. Its important to remember that just like the possibility of many solutions, there are many end results that can be possible. It might not necessarily be an acceptable outcome for others, but they’re not in our shoes. One more thing, assuming incorrectly that past is always a good predictor of outcomes. So time to move on.
Strategize before your act:
We use our homes and our minds as refuge for our trinkets and our emotions. As a result our lives are clogged with clutter and memories that paralyze our actions. We gather conditionally, by creating occasions likes birthdays, holidays, travel and even garage sales. But, we only discard conditionally. Decluttering helps narrow your focus and sharpen your priorities.
Most often than not, you’re possibly not the first person to get into a predicament or a nightmarish situation. Ask yourself, does this problem already have a solution? That’s your first step in resolving it. Ask for help and direction from mentors, friends and elders and strangers. Learn through accumulated wisdom. We’re already doing it, we owe so much to our previous generations for building tools and infrastructures in place for us to make the quality of our lives so better.
By looking at how countries deal with global problems, its easy to gain a cultural insight into solutions. Partner, seek out and collaborate with different people who’re striving for similar goals. After all, almost all of us have been victims of uncertainty, inequality and terror. Seek intrinsic motivation to create, while seeking extrinsic motivation to innovate and collaborate.
Work on competing goals:
Lets say we’ve to work on building housing for low income families. But there’s a catch, you’ll have to use sustainable and renewable forms of energy while powering the utilities. Working on such challenging goals with limited options and resources makes us mindful of a lot of aspects of problem solving that will otherwise be overlooked. Looking at a problem through a narrow set of available choices yields better results.
Act, act, act:
Carve your mold:
You can live life on your own terms, but can’t live in a way that disrupts other people’s lives. So play your part as a good community citizen. Allow others into your life to bring a fresh perspective. Together lets work towards bigger problems like the effect of climate change and tech disruption on a global scale. They are big problems that need solutions which can have a massive impact.
Think like a protagonist:
If it was the writing world, we lived in we would all be creating problems to try to resolve conflicts and come up with spectacular solutions. You can accelerate emotional recovery by writing about your problems. So help yourself as if you would a story teller.
Passive actions pay off:
If you want to get to know yourself better so you can make smart decisions and avoid future problems, pay attention to your behavior, not your thoughts. Your thoughts will always be ready with a burning issue. So, put some thoughts on the back burner. Let time heal relationship problems and other non legal woes.
Build a wall:
Create a wall of separation and stay on the side you know you’re in control. Rest everything else, throw up your hands and accept the outcome. Its good to also build another wall, the one that separates what you’re doing and what you can actually change and do better.
Self disrupt once in a while:
Once in a while even in a deep stride, make sure to check on yourself. Are you stuck in a rut? Are you doing a good job of hoarding protesters around you who make you look at all angles of the situation. Make sure your rebels are contributing to the cause with all their different perspectives.
Leave a remarkable footprint:
Whether you’re upto working for the common good of humanity, yada yada, the best thing you can do in your self serving life is not to create damage in the world than there is already. When in control, don’t act in a way of unconcern and resentment of others. When you know you’re responsible for your actions and have things under control, just do things the right way. There’s no two ways about it.
Mitigate as much as possible:
When we find ourselves unable to act, our lack of momentum can be attributed to our over thinking and over analyzing hypothetical outcomes to all our possible actions. This is called analysis paralysis.
Cost of inaction:
If you’re paralyzed by fear of failure, ask yourself, what the cost of inaction is. How else are you going to lose, what are the long term emotional or financial costs associated with not doing anything about your current situation at all.
Don’t create more problems:
So now that we’ve established that everyone has problems, why don’t we just stop creating more of them. Instead of living in a fictional reality, why don’t we hone in on the ability to actually see what others can’t see?
Don’t feed the beast:
Cut thoughts that destroy your inner peace. Think of the real situation and issue at hand and not what your thoughts perceive them to be. Make yourself powerful, not your thoughts.
Keep it real:
Stoking anxiety is what some people are really good at. We call them drama queens in some dictionaries. Stay away from them.
Cut your losses:
Lets say you’ve worked on a problem to the best of your ability, but that has not resulted in a pleasant outcome for you or others. Its very easy for guilt to set in which in worst case when unchecked can turn into self hate and hatred for others. Its easy to make peace with the past and try harder to change the outcome of the future.
When you think like a true problem solver, you chop down your one big problem into bite sized ones. That way you don’t intimidated and lose hope in finding a solution. And best part, you quickly realize you’re not an expert in all the bite sized issues, so you don’t really have to solve everything on your own.
Disrupt technology before it disrupts you daily. Create pockets of silence to make connections between everything you’ve learnt and are learning. When we live too much online than off, we lose a sense of who we really are. And the uniqueness of our human value proposition is lost. We can’t be doing things just because everyone else is doing it. And just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean it normal or right.