We are a problem-seeking people. From the time we are young, our parents tell us what not to do. At school, there are math problems we are meant to solve. And as adults, there are problems everywhere.
We have trained ourselves to see and solve problems. We wake up considering the problems of the day. When we celebrate, it is because a problem was solved.
The problem (forgive me) with all this problem solving is that it is a carousel. The problems never end. Why are we so obsessed with problems? Is there a better way?
Part of the issue is we live a lie. We believe that if we can just solve the problem in front of us, life will be better. That is rarely true. As soon as we cut off the head of a problem, another grows in its place. And so, we end up trading one set of problems for another.
The secret of life is not about solving problems. There is no end to it. Our circumstances change all the time. Some good. Some bad. Some tragic. Some triumphant. All of them are an opportunity. A problem is just one kind of opportunity.
Until we get out of the framework that life is a list of problems that need to be solved, we are doomed to live in this tumble dryer, repeating the cycle over and over, surprised at each rotation.
A Better Way
On the other hand, the creative process, THERE-HERE-PATH, begins with vision. Instead of starting with the question: what is wrong that can be fixed, we start with what do I really want and how can I take steps to get there?
Because what gets lost in our endless obsession with problems is an understanding of our true values. We start to think the depths of what we really want can be summed up with a superficial absence of a current circumstance. The absence of pain…as manifested in this particular way at this particular time. The absence of mystery… for this specific season or situation.
If you feel buried in problems, what you need is to find the space to slow down, back up, and ask yourself what truly matters to you? What do you want out of life? What do you really want for the sake of what it is – not as a means to something else?
The key to a fulfilling life is to find a way to live above our circumstances rather than under them. That process begins by focusing on what we want rather than what we don’t want. After all, the absence of a problem brings us to neutral, not to meaning.