Problems vs. Solutions

About a month ago, I presented an award at honors convocation to a student who overcame adversity while still making graduation requirements. Since presenting this award, I have been thinking a lot about the kinds of problems we face in our lives. So far, I have been able to come up with two categories: real and created problems. I would say a real problem would be something like someone in your family getting sick, an unforeseen accident, or a loved one being shipped away to war. I think these are problems that we cannot necessarily help but still impact our lives. Conversely, a created problem would be something like, “Oh she didn’t invite me to her wedding”, or “she didn’t say hi to me”, or something like paying for a parking ticket. Of course, there are many, many more problems that we all face on a daily basis.

So, then I have also been thinking a lot about how often these problems occur. When I actually break it down, I am finding that most of the problems in my life are created problems. So, for example, I heard a story about a dad mailing his child support check on the last day possible and then texting his ex-wife and saying, “Your welfare check is in the mail”, all the while the ex wife is causing a stir about not getting the check on time, etc. etc. All of these are self created problems; I think as humans, this is what we thrive on: the drama, the gossip, the ego enhancing prophecies.

Ever since presenting that award, I have a new philosophy I am living my life by: Be solution oriented: if there is no solution, then it is not a problem worth dwelling over. For example, one of the biggest issues in our house is the laundry schedule; people tend to leave their laundry in the washing machine so when the next person needs to do laundry, they throw the wet laundry in a basket. Now we have two angry people: the washer and the washee. Instead of calling each other up and complaining, I have decided to be solution oriented: if the issue is the laundry, then we need to come up with a laundry schedule and contract. As soon as we have done that, the problems go away and we can spend our times focusing on something else. I think we spend so much time complaining and dwelling over unimportant things that we waste so much of our time.

It is kind of like anxiety and stress; the psychological definition of stress is worrying over something we cannot control. This could be an outcome of a meeting or interview, a big test, or waiting on a decision by someone else. Stress and anxiety are created by things we cannot control but we spend so much time and energy on them anyways. I think the same thing is true of problems that do not have solutions; if there is no probably solution, then there is nothing I can do to fix the problem, and therefore I may be wasting my time by dwelling on something that cannot be solved.


I must say, especially coaching a high school team, this philosophy has prevented me from so much negativity and opened me up to positivity and productiveness!

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