Here is an Effective Method for Solving Your Life Problems

Albert Einstein

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.


Life is an Endless Barrage of Problems

From the moment we are born it seems as though life is constantly testing us. As babies we see adults walking up on two feet while we lie there helplessly on the floor. This is of course unacceptable, and so we are challenged to eventually try walking for ourselves. Although it isn’t easy and as expected we stumble and fall. However, after many failed attempts and mistakes we eventually get it right and start walking like adults. Walking soon becomes easy and we feel on top of the world; proud of our new ability. Life is awesome, and everything will be a piece of cake from this moment on for the rest of our lives, right? 😉

Well, as we know the problems and challenges we face don’t stop after we have learned to walk. There are always new challenges around the corner such as learning to talk, learning to write, learning to dance, learning to interact with others, and so forth. Then of course as the years go on we are challenged with tests, examinations, unexpected emotional upheavals such as anger, frustration, anxiety, stress, and then there’s of course heartbreak.

When in a relationship we are challenged constantly and bombarded with a plethora of problems that must be dealt with. These problems can come in the form uncooperative in-laws, financial struggles, health concerns, and a plethora of other day-to-day problems that put a strain on our relationships. However, we don’t necessarily need to be in a relationship to experience these problems. In fact, single people experience exactly the same, but must deal with these problems without the accountability or support from their partner; which of course can make things even more challenging for some.

Other typical problems we might need to deal with include:

  • Not able to lose that extra five pounds of weight.
  • Not able to pay off your bills, taxes or credit card on time.
  • Not able to get a work project completed by the due date.
  • Not able to help someone who needs your assistance.
  • Not able to reach an agreement within a negotiation.
  • Not able to apologize to someone for a mistake that has been made.
  • Not able to pass a critical exam that threatens your future career prospects.
  • Not able to get the pay rise you were expecting.
  • Not able to resolve a dispute between you and another person.
  • Not able to afford something that you desperately want to buy.
  • Not able to overcome the guilt you feel about something you did or failed to do.
  • Not able to start the business that you’ve been dreaming of for years.
  • Not able to effectively discipline your kids.
  • Not able to deal with the barrage of work you have to do in the little time you have to do it.
  • Not able to control your anger, anxiety, frustrations and a plethora of other emotions that make you feel absolutely miserable.
  • Not able to figure out how to work that new gadget you overpaid for.
  • Not able to get a refund on that new gadget you just can’t seem to figure out. 😉

I of course could go on-and-on listing all the kinds of typical life problems that we all tend to go through each day of our lives. But that’s not the purpose of this article. You already know that problems are an unavoidable part of life. In fact, they are a part of every journey, and especially prevalent when we venture into uncharted territories; for that is when we are challenged to the highest degree.


Problems Lead to Growth

Many people see their problems as unwelcome aspects of their lives. Problems are like an uninvited stranger coming into our home and settling down on the couch. We just feel uncomfortable in their presence. In fact, we just wish that they would leave us alone, but the reality is that they will continue to linger around your place until you figure out a way to get them back out the front or back door.

For most people this is a very uncomfortable process having this stranger in their home. What makes things worse is that this stranger is consistently getting in their way. They want to go to the bathroom and there’s the stranger taking a shower. They want to go to bed, and the stranger is already sleeping on their pillow. This person is just so infuriating and they want nothing more than for them to leave. However, the stranger (as with many of our problems) tends to linger around until the moment we decide that “enough is enough”.

Unfortunately, most people don’t tend to deal with problems in this way. They will instead try to ignore their problems. But the stranger is still there eating your cereal on your favorite seat first thing in the morning. No matter how much you try and ignore them, it doesn’t change the fact that sooner or later you will need to deal with this “elephant in the room”. This is of course a saying that something is lingering around that must be dealt with sooner or later.

What typically happens is that people just don’t want to deal with their problems. However, by allowing their problems to linger around in this way they are actually making things worse. Before they know it the uninvited stranger will be wearing their clothes and drinking all their beer. Suddenly in a blink of an eye the stranger has taken over their entire life; just as many problems typically do.

Things of course don’t need to be this way. However, we must first acknowledge that having this uninvited stranger in our house isn’t such a bad thing. Just maybe they aren’t so much a problem as we make them out to be. Just maybe this is an opportunity to learn something new. Just maybe they are here in your life today to help you grow and develop into the person you desire to be. And just maybe you can use their presence in your life to actually help you accomplish a goal you have been working towards for some time now. But you will of course never fully capitalize on this opportunity if you resist the stranger’s presence.

We typically experience the most problems when we are venturing into uncharted territories or while making progress toward a goal. However, these are also times when we can experience the most growth because problems often help us to see the world and our circumstances from a new perspective. In fact, they can even help us see ourselves in a new light.

But life’s problems are overbearing and inconvenient. I mean, who really wants problems? It’s easier to just live a carefree life without having to deal with problems, right? Well on the surface it might seem that way, however without any problems you would live a very mundane existence. In fact, life might be rather dull and boring. And because there would be no problems to deal with, you wouldn’t learn and grow as quickly from your experiences; after all we learn most from failure and mistakes, and these are often a result of our attempts at trying to solve problems.

The truth is that problems are an essential part of the human experience. In fact, having problems and learning how to solve them successfully are the keys to long-term happiness and fulfilment.

Problems have of course been around since the dawn of time. Think back to the caveman doodling on the walls. They certainly had problems. In fact, our problems today seem pale in comparison when we think about all the wild and dangerous animals that threatened their lives each and every day. Our problems today are a little more mellow and certainly less life threatening, but many people do still make them out to be larger than life.

But what are problems really? Well, problems are nothing more than decisions that need to be made. Mind you, they might not be simple decisions, and you may very well need to make a chain of decisions to get your desired outcome, but nevertheless they are still nothing more than decisions.

Making effective decisions of course can take some research, support and other resources. It may even require that you become a little more resourceful in certain situations in order to reach the right decision moving forward. However, it still doesn’t change the fact that solving problems requires nothing more than: Making a set of effective decisions leading to a solution to the problem you are facing.

If we see problems in this light, then just maybe you will eventually figure out how to invite the uninvited stranger back out of your home. 😉

The Value of Having Problems


A Deeper Understanding of Our Problems

When it comes to handling our day-to-day life problems, many people unnecessarily exacerbate these problems with their thoughts and imagination.

Going back to our previous example of the uninvited stranger, it’s just too easy for us to allow our frustrations to get the better of us; as a result making the situation more dire than it should be.

For instance, we do clearly understand that this uninvited stranger has taken residency within our home, however we might exaggerate this fact by thinking that they have started impersonating us and that sooner or later they will, “Convince my partner that they are me and will therefore progressively take over my entire life“.

The interpretations you make of any situation determines your perspective of that situation. Therefore if you make poor interpretations of the problem you are currently facing, then you will see it in a very negative and limiting light that will actually hold you back from finding an effective solution to that problem.

What many people maybe don’t realize is that problems can present a multitude of opportunities that they have actually been longing for. But because these opportunities aren’t presented to them on a platter, they don’t recognize them for what they are. They instead see opportunities as these wonderful things that will immediately improve their life and circumstances. However, this is rarely if ever the case.

Success from Point A to B is never a straight line. Moving from Point A to B might require many loops, twists and turns. And at times there will be forks in the road where one path might be more optimal than the next. And that is of course where making effective decisions comes into the picture.

No matter where you are along your journey, it’s important to understand that it’s all about the journey. We learn, develop and grow from every experience. In fact, looking back on your life you will typically have fonder memories of your journey and all the obstacles you faced, then you will have of achieving your desired goal. You will typically feel this way because of the growth you experienced by overcoming all those challenges along your path. And this is really all that matters in the end.

All-in-all, your problems make your life more meaningful; they make the journey you are travelling on more meaningful. In fact, they make achieving your goal more meaningful.

Have a think about all the goals you have achieved over a lifetime. I would bet that the goals that have been most meaningful you have had to work the hardest for; overcoming a tremendous amount of problems and adversity along the way. That is in essence where we gain the most satisfaction from life: when we surmount all the odds faced against us. Yes, that is when true happiness and fulfilment comes into the picture.

However, for the most part, we really don’t need to complicate things too much when trying to solve our problems. Oftentimes, many problems have very simple solution and we potentially don’t require as much effort to overcome them as we might imagine. However, we do need to become a lot more resourceful in order to solve these problems most effectively.

In a nutshell, when faced with a typical life problem, it should immediately alert you to the fact that a something is not working. You possibly made a poor decision somewhere along the line, or you’re just not doing something the way it should be done. This of course presents an opportunity for you to step back and see the landscape of your problem for what it is, and then make better decisions moving forward. You may in fact need to alter your approach and do something a little differently this time around. This is of course all about approaching all your problems with a flexible and open mind, as well as a willingness to try new things when opportunities present themselves.

Now, of course you might be thinking that some problems may very well resolve themselves. The uninvited stranger who took over your home might just one day decide to pack up and leave through the front door. This is of course a possibility. It could very well happen and the problem will be out of your life for good, right?

So now with the stranger leaving your home you feel good about yourself and about your life. You have your home back once again and everything seems to be back on track. However, what you didn’t realize is that the problem actually had nothing to do with the uninvited stranger, but rather everything to do with the fact that you don’t have a lock on your front door. Therefore, at any time in the future another uninvited stranger can walk right in and you will be back to where things got started. 🙁

This is a typical scenario that many of us experience. Your problems will come and go. However, they will always tend to come back again-and-again in a different form until you eventually decide to face them head-on. It’s as though life is telling you that there are lessons that you must learn, and I am going to keep sending you the same problem in a different guise until you eventually learn from the experience. Moreover, when you learn the lessons a plethora of opportunities will be revealed to you that can help you get whatever your heart desires. 🙂


The Requirements for Solving Life’s Problems

Now that you have a very clear understanding of what problems are all about; what does it really take to solve life’s problems? Let’s discuss that within this section by exploring the mindset and the approach you need in order to effectively handle the endless array of problems that life throws your way.

The Curious Mind

The key to solving any of life’s problems essentially begins with curiosity. With a curious nature you will be less concerned with the inconvenience of suddenly facing a problem, and more interested in the possibilities that this problem has potentially brought to the surface. And of course in order to cultivate curiosity you must be willing to ask some tough questions that will help you view the problem from a number of vantage points.

When we’re curious we naturally feel more confident because we are no longer complaining or making excuses about our predicament. We instead ask questions, which make us feel as though we are in control of the situation. And of course as your self-confidence grows you will naturally become more optimistic that you can successfully solve this problem. And so you continue to ask questions that help you explore the problem at ever deeper levels; your self-confidence grows and you become ever more optimistic of a positive outcome. And so the cycle continues.

In addition to this, cultivating a curious mind requires being open to different perspectives, ideas, approaches, and opinions. Most of the time you probably won’t have all the answers you need to solve a problem. However, other people may certainly have those answers. For this very reason it’s important to reach out to other people to help expose your mind to a greater array of possibilities. After all, it is very possible that someone might have already solved this problem. All you would then need to do is model their decisions and actions down that same path. However, do bear in mind that what worked for them might not work for you in this particular situation.

Finally, a curious nature requires a lighthearted, proactive and adaptive approach to your problem. Only in this way will you gather the insights necessary to help you move through the problem successfully.

Instill Empowering Beliefs

The optimism you generate through curiosity alone can be a tremendous motivator. However, curiosity alone might not be enough to provide you with a positive outlook. In such instances you need to instill three key beliefs that can help you move through the problem successfully. These beliefs are:

  • Every problem presents me with an opportunity.
  • Every problem can be solved with persistent effort.
  • Every successful resolution of a problem can be modeled.
  • There is no failure; there is only feedback for improvement.

In order to instill these beliefs you must become a possibility thinker. This means that you are constantly looking forward at the possibilities of what you can do or gain from this situation instead of looking back at your circumstances with disappointment and regret.

Above all else, it’s important to remind yourself that no matter what the outcome of your decisions or actions, that you can always learn something from the experience that can be used to move yourself forward through the problem successfully. This is where the idea of “there’s no failure only feedback” comes into the picture. If you keep this idea at the forefront of your mind at all times, it will help guide you through the difficulties along your journey.

Look for Patterns

Every problem you come across comes about in a very specific way. What I mean by this is that every problem has a distinct set of patterns that shape the problem. These patterns can be within the circumstances themselves, within the environment, or within people’s behavior.

The key then of course is to look for cause-effect relationships between people, things and events. In other words, there will be trends in the form of similarities and differences that you must look out for.

These patterns will provide you with deeper insights into the problem. However, in order to spot them, you must maintain a curious nature throughout the process by consciously probing for details. And of course to do this you will need to ask questions such as:

Why is this a problem?

How did this problem come about?

What led to the creation of this problem?

Who was involved in its creation? How were they involved?

How was I involved in the creation of this problem (even indirectly)?

How has it impacted me? How has it impacted others?

Has this problem been solved before? By whom? How was it solved?

Have I solved a problem like this before? How?

What valuable lessons can I gain from these past experiences?

What’s different about this particular situation?

How must I adapt to the unique circumstances I am currently facing?

Given all this, what patterns am I seeing here that could help me deal with this problem most effectively?

And so forth…

There are literally an infinite combination of questions you could potentially ask about your problem that will encourage you to think about it from a multitude of angles and perspectives. The key then of course is to maintain a curious nature throughout because that is the only way you will be able to identify key patterns in the form of cause-effect relationships that can be used to help you solve the problem to your satisfaction.

The Requirements for Solving Problems


Further Guidelines for Solving Life’s Problems

Within this final section, let’s explore some further guidelines and ideas that will help you solve your life problems far more quickly and effectively.

Some of these guidelines require you to do something specific, while other guidelines require you to refrain from doing something. Furthermore, some guidelines will be quick and easy to implement, while others will require more effort and attention.

You are of course free to choose what methods you might like to use to solve your life problems. These guidelines are only here to provide you with some direction. You can use one or two of them, or a multitude of them in combination to help you work through a problem successfully. The choice is completely up to you.

I would however like to mention not to necessarily gravitate towards things that are familiar and give you a sense of comfort. Sometimes the greatest insights can be found in the unfamiliar and untried methods. These are the methods that may surprise you and help you gather the necessary feedback needed to solve a problem successfully.

I would therefore recommend to keep an open mind to the possibilities, and to never underestimate the simplicity of an idea. You just never know how effective something can be until you try it. 🙂

Stop Self-Destructive Habits

One of the biggest barriers that will hold you back from solving your life’s problems has to do with the mindset you bring to that problem. By mindset I mean all the assumptions and excuses you might make about your predicament; or the fact that you are constantly complaining about the problem and/or blaming others or circumstances for the predicament you find yourself in. And then of course there are those regrets of what your should, could and might have done.

Dwelling on all the negatives in this way will certainly not help you find a solution to the problem, in fact it might actually exacerbate the problem even further.

We must instead learn to accept how things are in the moment. Yes, there will be things you can’t control. That’s the reality of life. Some things will always be out of your control and you can’t do anything about that; so there’s certainly no point worrying about them.

On the other hand there will be other things that you certainly will be able to control, even if it is just your perception of the situation. Whatever you can control, that is where you must begin; that is what you must focus all your attention on. However, only through acceptance can you move forward in an effective way toward solving the problem.

Beware of Your Past

When faced with a problem we will typically look to the past for reference to help us in the present moment. This is of course fine. We can learn a great deal from our past that can help us make better decisions today. However, it is important that you don’t use your past as the primary barometer for your future decisions.

Past experience should only be used as a guide for the present predicament you find yourself in. Even if it appears that you are dealing with the same problem, it’s easy to get caught off guard expecting that what worked in the past will also work in the present. This is a typical assumption all of us often make, however the present circumstances might not be an ideal match for what happened in the past.

Yes, by all means use the past to work through your current predicament, however don’t just settle on what you know. Keep your mind curious and open to the possibilities because there might very possibly be an even better way to work through this problem when compared to how you handled things in the past. However, if you don’t dare to ask some challenging questions, then you will struggle to find the answers that will help you solve this problem most effectively.

Keep a Lookout for Opportunities

When confronted with a problem, it’s important to acknowledge that each problem comes with an opportunity of some kind that you can take advantage of. Sometimes this opportunity is very concrete and real; other times it’s kind of inconspicuous; possibly coming in the form of something of value that you can learn from the experience.

No matter what the problem is, there will always be an opportunity here for you to either make a connection with someone, to discover something new, to explore a new path, to see things in a new light, to gain some clarity, or it might simply provide you with the opportunity to make a pivotal decision that could one day turn into an unexpected fortunate occurrence that will help you solve your problem.

There is however a process involved with unlocking opportunities. Following this process will help you to make the most of the multitude of opportunities that life brings your way. However, it is important to note that many of these opportunities can come disguised as further problems or more unnecessary work that most of us will tend to shy away from. This is of course a mistake. Instead of trying to avoid these things, gravitate towards them by embracing everything that comes your way with an open and curious mind.

Guidelines for Solving Problems

Actively Seek Out Solutions

Opportunities will of course lead you down the path toward solutions that will help you solve your problem. However, unless you are actively and aggressively seeking out these solutions, then you are not likely to find them.

Solutions to your problem can of course be found by reading books or by simply talking with other people about your problem. Everyone will have their own unique take and perspective about your predicament and can offer some worthy advice that can help lead you down the right path.

Now of course, not everyone’s advice or personal experience will be useful for you. In fact, you should think long and hard about what other people tell you before doing the same. It is possible that their advice isn’t foolproof. It might not apply to your situation, or maybe they have been misinformed themselves and could lead you astray. Moreover, what worked for them might not work in your specific situation today.

Given all this, it’s critical that after you speak with other people that you do your own research leaving no stone unturned. The decision you make in the end should not be based on what one person told you, but based on a combination of credible sources that can help in your particular situation.

It is however important that you keep an open mind throughout this process and even explore unusual and funny ideas and perspectives that might not make sense in the moment. Sometimes the best answers to your problem may very well come from the most unexpected of sources. However, you will only find these answers if you keep an open and curious mind.

Think in Pictures

A creative way to work through your life problems is to practice thinking in pictures. Thinking in pictures works very well because the brain is actually hardwired to make sense of the world using pictures. In fact, the majority of the neurons within the brain are assigned to the visual processing of information; therefore working with pictures can certainly help open the doors to new insights that you typically would not have come across.

When it comes to thinking about your problem using pictures you could for instance use diagrams, charts, metaphors, mind maps or simple doodles to help explore your problem in various ways. For instance, doodling your problem on paper effectively helps take all your thoughts out of your head and allows you to shape and restructure them in the physical world on paper. This is a powerful process because when you see all your thoughts and ideas about a problem visualized in front of you in this way, it helps you see things from a new perspective. All of a sudden your jumbled thoughts start to make sense, and you can finally see the problem for what it is.

The ideal method would of course be to use a variety of visual representations to help explore your problem. As such, feel free to mix doodles with charts, diagrams and mind maps for greatest effect.

Another visual method you can use to solve your problems is to think in metaphors. By thinking in metaphors I mean turning your problem into a visual metaphor. This is helpful because it expands the possibilities.

When thinking of a typical life problem, we will always tend to be limited by our knowledge and the expectations — about what’s possible or not possible — that we bring into the situation. Therefore solving our problems in the real world isn’t always ideal. The solution is then to turn the problem into a metaphor and then to try and solve it using that metaphor.

Use a Systematic Problem Solving Approach

Many times we may be trying to figure out how to solve a problem, but very early in the process we get stuck. Nothing seems to come to mind and as a result we resign to the fact that nothing can actually be done. This is typically where most people hit a snag, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be this way.

We typically get stuck because we over complicate the problem and this leaves us feeling overwhelmed and resigned to the fact that it can’t be solved. One way to avoid this trap is of course to simplify the problem from the get-go. To do this, start by restating the problem in the form of a question.

So if for instance your problem is that you are unable to pay off your credit card bill by the end of this month, then you could state it in the form of a question such as:

What must I do to pay off my credit card by the end of this month?

This question could then of course lead to further questions:

Where must I look for answers?

What books could I read for guidance?

Who could I reach out to for assistance?

Would speaking with the bank be of value?

Could I sell something to earn a little extra cash?

Could I ask my boss to give me a week’s pay in advance?

Could my kids help out in some way?

What other possibilities are there?

As you can see, framing the problem into a question has now opened up the floodgates of possibilities. You now no longer have no options, but rather have a multitude of options that can help you resolve your problem.

Having gained some traction with your problem, it’s now time to use a systematic problem solving approach to help you work through your problem more effectively. You can explore details about this process on the Problem Solving Skills page. In addition to this, you may also find it of value learning how to effectively reframe your problems.

Suggestions for Solving Life's Problems

Seek a Permanent Solution

Have you ever noticed that at times the same problems just keep coming into your life time-and-again? These are problems you successfully dealt with before, or at least you thought you did. So why do they keep popping up?

The same problems can keep popping up in your life for numerous reasons, however no matter what the reason, it essentially boils down to the fact that you haven’t yet figured out a permanent solution for these problems.

Many people simply put a bandaid on their problems, but never actually take the time to figure out how to prevent the injury in the first place.

Putting a bandaid on your problem will help you deal with it in the moment, but unless you develop a process that will help you avoid these types of problems altogether, then unfortunately they will just keep cropping up in your life time-and-again.

But how do we do this? The only way you can do this is by figuring out what caused the problem, and then putting systems in place to ensure that this problem doesn’t come up again. This of course isn’t always possible, however you can certainly minimize the effect that a problem will have on your life if you have the right systems and processes in place to deal with it.

To get into the habit of doing this, it’s helpful to assess your problem by asking yourself:

What events or circumstances led to this problem?

How were other people involved in creating this problem?

How was I involved in creating this problem?

What factors are under my control that could help me avoid or at the very least minimize the impact of this problem in the future?

What factors may not be under my direct control but that I could still potentially influence to help minimize or avoid this problem altogether? Whose help might I need?

What specifically must I do in advance to avoid or minimize the impact of this problem?

What systems and/or processes can I put into place to ensure that I avoid or minimize the impact of this problem?

What specifically will I now do to minimize or avoid this problem altogether?

Assessing your problem in this way will help you to figure out what you can do the next time around to minimize the impact of the problem or to potentially avoid the problem altogether.

Allow for Idea Incubation

Many times solutions to your problems will not be immediately evident. During these moments it’s easy to become a little agitated and frustrated with the lack of progress. These emotions will unfortunately not help you find a solution. What you need instead is a cool head and a little patience.

Solutions and/or answers to your problems often will not immediately be evident. You need to allow time for ideas to materialize. As a matter a fact, some ideas you bring to mind might not be ideal solutions for the problem you are dealing with. It’s therefore paramount that you don’t rush into trying to resolve the problem too quickly. Instead, take some time to separate yourself from the problem to allow your ideas to incubate.

During this time of separation, completely relax and clear your mind of the pressures that this problem has placed on your shoulders. For instance, spend time playing and involving yourself in your favorite hobby, or take time to fantasize a little. Taking a nap and sleeping on your problem can also be of value, as can a little visualization and meditation.

The key is to emotionally separate yourself from the problem to allow your brain time to compute and figure out what the best option might be moving forward. This of course doesn’t mean you are ignoring the problem. The problem is still on your mind, however you are no longer emotionally wrapped up in the problem and this allows you to gain more clarity about your circumstances, which of course can help you settle on an effective solution to the problem at hand.

All these suggestions by no means present you with a foolproof process for solving your life’s problems, however they do hopefully help provide you with a few more options that you can use to make your life a little easier and your problems a little smaller. 🙂


Time to Assimilate these Concepts

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Here’s some DOODLEspiration…

Below you will find a little doodle that we’ve prepared for you to help keep some of the ideas discussed within this article at the forefront of your mind. Use it as a desktop background or download and share some DOODLEspiration with your family and friends. 🙂

Six Steps for Solving Life's Problems

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