“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabbat Zinn
Problems are an inevitable part of human existence. Where some see problems that are insurmountable, however, others see opportunities. We’re not all of that mindset, though, and the question becomes what is the best way to tackle problems when we encounter them? Perhaps taking a different approach is a wise move.
Some call it lateral thinking. Instead of moving forward in a straight line or in a linear direction from point A to point B, etc., thinking of alternative solutions can not only alleviate stress build-up but also generate even more potential solutions. It is, above all, a proactive approach to something that’s going to keep occurring anyway. If you can’t stop the waves, perhaps learning how to surf is an answer.
This may sound too easy. How do you actually do it? When you face a problem, especially one that has tremendous significance, threatens to seriously disrupt your life and you can’t see a way around it, but even small, everyday problems that are more nuisances and distractions than real difficulties, how do you get past the tendency to feel defeated and powerless? How do you stop feeling like you’re overwhelmed and can’t come to a successful outcome?
It takes time and patience and a gradual shifting of problem-solving approach. Careful analysis of the problem is a valuable first step, but also brainstorming ideas for potential solutions. Enlist the help of others to help you gain momentum. Collective brainstorming often leads to innovative solutions to even the most vexing problems.
Try taking a break from the problem to let it soak for a while. When you stop focusing all your attention on something, much like getting a good night’s sleep helps restore and revitalize the body, you’re better able to think of alternatives. You’re less apt to be overwhelmed by the problem to the point that you give up.
List the different approaches you come up with and weigh and balance them to find the best one to take at the present time with the present problem. This careful thought process will make you feel more in control and empowered. This boosts your self-confidence and provides the motivation to pursue the course of action you decide upon. You’re not stopping the wave, but you are learning how to surf. You may even discover you like to surf. Such an unexpected and positive outcome to what began as a problem is very much a possibility.