Monday, August 19, 2013

How to Solve a Problem in Four Easy Steps

There are two groups of people on Facebook.

First, there are those who seem to have no problems and spend each day in shafts of buttery sunlight drinking gently-steaming cups of  perfectly-brewed herbal tea while watching kittens frolic in the dewey meadows of their perfect, hypothetical lives. Their children, golden-haired cherubs with no sticky-patches-turned-dirt-smears adorning their fresh cheeks, do differential calculus while potty training themselves. Their bosses love them, their spouses are perfect, they ran ten miles this morning, and there's always something delicious baking in the oven. 

The alchemy of their touch turns all to gold.

Then there are the rest of your contacts. You know the type I mean. The ones who seem to exist in a perpetual vortex of unstinting drama, ridiculousness, arm-flailing, and despair. Never mind that the majority of this turmoil is self-inflicted. Every comment is wrong, the world hates them, nothing matters, and don't you dare say anything about it because you don't understand anyway. 

All histrionics, all the time.

Although you may assume that this post on problem solving is directed to the second group in particular, in reality both of these extremes - the Positive Polly and the Negative Nancy alike - could benefit from its wisdom. 

And so could people like you -- the Average Joes who see themselves as somewhere in between.

Because let's admit it. 

We all have problems. 

How to Solve a Problem in Four Easy Steps

Step 1: Ignore the problem. I'm often astounded at how many times people skip this simple step. Those who skip it do so at their own peril, for it has been known to work on a variety of problems from strange smells to door-to-door salesmen to rejected boyfriends. If you ignore them long enough, they'll usually go away, requiring no further emotional expenditure on your part.  So your first approach to dealing with problems should be just to stay calm and ignore them if you can. 

This is very good advice that will probably never backfire in any way.

Step 2: Start researching steps to solve the problem. If the problem is too big to be ignored, you have no recourse but to set about solving it. If you're smart, you'll no doubt start looking for answers on the internet, where all arguments and pieces of advice are valid and reliable. 

I recommend starting on Pinterest. Worst case scenario: even if you don't find a solution to your problem, you'll have enjoyed some relaxing time clicking through outlandish ideas that - although they have have no real bearing on your life -  at least serve to distract you from the issue at hand to the extent that you're no longer upset. Best case scenario: you'll develop a passion for hand-dipping all-natural, seasonally-festive tallow candles.

Step 3: Use logic to find a solution. Difficult as an obstacle may seem, there's always a solution. Take, for example, the mother of a hapless childhood friend, who upon tiring of telling him to keep his room clean, took a day while he was at school to empty everything from his room except for a mattress and a pair of underpants. When he complained that such treatment was intolerable, she promised that on each subsequent day, he'd get a fresh pair of underpants. BOOM. Room clean - problem solved. 

It's usually just that easy. 

Step 4: Reward yourself with some Me Time. After all, you've been working hard all day problem solving. You deserve it.  

Besides......

Those all-natural, seasonally-festive tallow candles aren't going to hand-dip themselves. 

4 comments:

  1. (Are the candles bear tallow?)I rather like option one. It goes hand in hand with my procrastination habit.

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    1. I actually know nothing about tallow candles! Is bear tallow really a Thing?? Sounds gross.

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  2. It's basically bear fat and they did use to use it in many ways. I read somewhere that it didn't have a very pleasing aroma.

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  3. One of the best bits of advice I received was in a marriage class. It helped to determine the answer to "Whose problem is it, anyway?" In the case of the mother with the untidy child, most people would say that the problem belonged with the child. But, the truth is that he had no problem with being a slob. He wasn't bothered. The problem belonged to his mother. She was the one who was frustrated, so she needed to take ownership of the problem to find a solution. And it sounds as if she did!

    Also from that class came the realization that there are some problems that are unsolvable. When you realize that you have no power to change a certain circumstance or person, and you fully accept that as a fact, it's easier to plan to work around it, ignore it, or deal with it as best you can.

    There are times indulging one's self with Step 1 can be problematic. I ignored that pesky squeaking of my brakes until I wore my brake shoes out! Thankfully, I was in a parking lot when everything fell apart--with bits of my brake shoes on the asphalt--and no one was hurt. It's a thrill to apply one's brakes without response!

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