How to deal with problems in life
The only 3 things that you can do about problems
Burn your problems! 🔥 Haha!
Well, that would be very nice if you could actually do this, but if we are to talk seriously there are actually only 3 practical ways to deal with problems. So let’s jump right in.
#1. Take preventative measures.
Here is the obvious one. If you are honest with yourself, look back to many of the problems that you have already dealt with in your life. If you are honest with yourself, you can clearly see that a great deal of them didn’t even have to occur had you decided to carefully plan them.
Of course, our capacity to foresee the future is limited but it doesn’t remove minimizing risks form the list of our responsibilities. Many problems arise because we abandon things that require routine maintenance.
Let’s look at some examples:
- Health. Take care of the vessel so that it doesn’t break because when it breaks it consequently damages the spirit. 20 minutes stretch, a brisk walk, a gym session— there are always things that we can do to stay active. Regularity is the key. You don’t brush your teeth once a week. (I hope 🤔)
- Nutrition. Food can heal you or it can kill you. Be mindful of what goes inside your body — this is the closest interaction with the outside world that your body has. Less toxic stuff more ‘green’ stuff.
- Relationships. Being kind is not just one of many alternative ways of living, it is the most effective one. Kindness and compassion are like hygiene for your soul. The way you treat others is the way you treat yourself. All relationships are in your head.
- Work. Do your job and do it well. Problems arise when things snowball so an appropriate organization of your workflow and workspace is essential. Notion, Evernote, Dropbox, Google drive —choose your own set of tools to generate a “second brain” for yourself. Use all these great information management systems to create space in your primary brain. Its function is to do creative work so using it as a ‘storage’ is a complete waste of your resources. That is where the feeling of being overwhelmed comes from.
- Stress-management. Find your outlet. If you don’t take care of yourself you will burn out, and I can tell you from personal experience, being burned out is not exactly a luna park. Do what recharges you: draw, read, write, play music, dance, do karaoke, hike, workout. Feed your soul.
- Spiritual growth. This aspect is the most important of all. Allocate a block of time that you can spend in solitude. Meditate, read spiritual literature, reconnect with your center. All the major problems arise because we forget who we are. We are not the body. We are not the mind. We are all free spirits.
The thought is an illusion, and to address the illusion you proceed to the next step.
#2. See the true nature of the “problem”.
There is no such thing as a problem. Problems don’t exist in nature. There are only life situations that occur.
Seeing the situation as a problem is the work of the thinking mind. It is nothing but our perception of the situation that makes life hard.
We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
This is what the mind excels at — labeling and categorization. The ability to think systematically is a blessing but it also has a dark side. The moment you start to call the situation in which you find yourself a problem you are adopting the mindset of a victim. You do not see the event that occurred to you as it is, but instead, your mind automatically puts it into a framework in which struggle becomes a logical implication.
Always try to see ‘through’ the problem. It is true, we face some damn rough life experiences in this life, but we always have the power to take a step back and look at the situation objectively or even change the way we see things by reframing or rationalization.
Once we have the “right vision”, we can proceed with step 3.
#3. Think like a stoic
Divide all things that matter to you into two circles: a Circle of Influence and a Circle of Concern.
In the first circle, you put things that you can change, and in the second, you put all the things that you worry about.
In a perfect world, both circles match: you only worry about the things that you can control, and you deprive the things that you can’t of the energy of your attention.
This approach leaves you only with action and isolates you from unproductive ruminations.
Let’s look at unemployment as an example.
Step 1. Can you prevent it?
Well, partially. You can do your job conscientiously but in reality, even this doesn’t keep you safe. In the real world, things happen just like that *snaps fingers*
I had a client who got laid off for financial reasons. He lost his job in 5 minutes with 6 other people: “Sorry, we have to let you go.” Another client was working in the warehouse for 3 years and it burned to ashes in one night. That is the reality of things. Shit happens.
Step 2. Is it a problem?
Will you call it a problem? Or will you flip it in your mind and label it as a test, a challenge, an obstacle, a lesson, a bump on the road, or even an opportunity to pursue what you wanted to do a long time ago?
How can you interpret what happened to you in a way that would promote action, not inaction?
Step 3. What’s next?
Regardless of what happened, you have no job — it is a fact. Now, what are you going to do about it? And really, there are two options only:
- Sink in your misery
- Take action (job search)
Shift your focus from the former to the latter, and things will change. Eventually.
- Prevent what you can.
- Don’t call anything a “problem”.
- Focus on what can be done and channel all your energy into making it happen. Don’t worry about the rest.
This is a short take on the philosophy of problems but let me know what you think.
Share your response in the comment section, I love to read good stories.
Thank you for reading this essay.
If you would like to learn more about my work, here is my book “Meditations of the Millennial”.
If you want to support me on my mission, please, share this book with someone you love. Maybe they will find what they seek on its pages.