I used to think it was important to solve problems. As in, “There’s this situation that bothers me. I am going to set about trying to fix it.” Sounds logical, right?
The funny thing is, our very attitude about a problem can get in the way of finding a solution. Have you ever noticed that when someone is the most upset they tend to have the worst judgment? It’s like the character in a movie who hears some bad news and goes to confront whomever he’s upset at. He usually ends up getting in a fist fight and going to jail for the night.
The more worked up we are, the more likely it is that we will say or do something stupid or regrettable, thus adding to the problem, or in many cases, creating one where there wasn’t one before!
It stands to reason that we are going to be the best at finding solutions when we are focused, calm, and receptive. It’s similar with my piano students. If a student is frustrated as they work through their sheet music, they are more likely to make mistakes, which only adds to their frustration. On the other hand, if they slow down, relax, and focus, they will be more effective.
The mind can be a trickster, offering us unhappy thoughts and tempting us to take unskillful action. It seems to have a “shoot now and ask questions later” impulse. In the moment, it feels right to follow this impulse, but it seems to only cause trouble or make the solution hard to see. Where are my keys? Why do I always lose them?! We scream as we run around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Instead, if we take a nap, change the subject, or go for a walk–thus calming our mind state– the solution often presents itself. Ah, there are my keys. Right there on the dresser!
It is our choice whether to believe the dramatics of the mind. By stepping back from it, we can side-step the tendency to act from a problem-oriented place. By doing so, we will be more likely to receive the impulse to take the right action, the one that is inspired and naturally brings the solution.