Be a Problem Solver, Not a Problem Finder
Have you turned on the news lately?
It seems like there’s always something wrong. For much of the Spring, the focal point was COVID-19, now it’s police brutality and political turmoil. Each day millions of people see these stories on social media and on t.v, get angry and perpetuate the same cycle of negativity.
This is a huge problem in modern society.
We focus on all the bad and forget about the good things that happen on a regular basis. In essence, people go through life complaining about what went wrong, not being grateful for what went right. With this mentality, it’s no wonder that so many people struggle with depression or feel a lack of empowerment.
There is a very simple solution to this problem.
Well, it’s simple in theory, but for those stuck in this cycle it will be hard. Nonetheless, it’s worthwhile to explore because the impact will be profound on a micro and macro level. If we can eliminate or even attenuate the current negativity around us, the world will be a better place. Things will actually get done and people can work together rather than against each other. It sounds very idealistic and nonsensical, but the fact of the matter is that it is EXTREMELY possible.
In order to break the cycle of negativity, there are 2 distinct steps we need to take. Collectively, these actions will lead us to a place of appreciation and happiness. It all comes down to being a problem solver, not a problem maker.
Stop Making Excuses
Help fill in the blank: excuses are like _________, everyone has one.
Seriously though. Excuses pervade all levels of society from top to bottom. At school, students get extensions on work because parents make excuses for why they can’t meet reasonable deadlines. When the 2016 election went unexpectedly, people became incredulous about the electoral college–something that’s existed since the foundation of the United States. Heck, people find excuses for why life goes differently than they want it to financially, in terms of happiness, or otherwise. People even one up each other when it comes to sob stories.
Where has any of this gotten us?
People are generally ignorant to the fact that an excessive use of excuses is destroying society on all levels. Perhaps it was always this way, it’s just more apparent given the expansion of technology. It may also be a contemporary phenomenon we’ve created to ignore our blessings. Yes, there are times when things occur that we can’t control. Most of the time, however, there are things that we can do to make life better.
We are in control of our own lives and have the power to create more favorable outcomes.
The problem with creating excuses is that it allows us to become lazy and helpless. If you blame someone else for your woes, how can you ever make life better? Don’t rely on someone else when it comes to your own life. You’ll spend an eternity waiting for change, but nothing will ever happen. Instead, take accountability and try to take actions that are within your control.
To reframe your mind, you need to begin seeing obstacles as opportunities to grow.
An excuse is often a way to avoid what needs to be done. Consider Nelson Mandela. He could have used 20 plus years in prison to create a sob story, luckily he didn’t or South Africa may still be experiencing Apartheid. Although he was wrongly imprisoned, he did not let that break him, he used it to make himself stronger. He used his time in jail to plan for a better future, one with equality, and justice. Then, he made it happen. When you want to make an excuse because something went wrong, just think about all the opportunities to get better that are embedded in each challenge.
Remember that you are in control of your own destiny. Take ownership of your life and eliminate excuses once and for all.
Search for Solutions
When something goes wrong, do you focus on the problem or the solution?
The way you answer this question can lend tremendous insight into your life. In many ways, your interpretation of the world is reflected in how you respond to adversity. Oftentimes, we like to fixate on problems which makes us blind to solutions.
Problems are impossible to change. When something becomes a problem, it’s because it has already occurred. It is a past event that is impacting the present. Unless you have a time machine, there’s nothing you can do to change the past, but you can take actions that impact the present and future. That’s where solutions come in.
To search for solutions, all you have to do is ask the right question.
There’s literally only one question you need to ask and it applies to every situation. When you find yourself in the midst of a problem, take a step back and ask “how can I make this better?”
By asking this question, you are taking ownership meaning that you can make change. Empowering yourself is the first step because it lends itself to infinite possibilities. The word “how” is also actionable. It requires you to do something in response.
A man who understood the difference between problems and solutions well was president Abraham Lincoln. The first problem he faced came on his first day in office: half of the United States decided to secede. When diplomacy failed, he went to war with the Confederacy ultimately unifying the country again. Within this same problem was the underlying issue of slavery.
Did he allow slavery to continue to appease the southern states?
No, he sat down and wrote the Emancipation Proclamation which freed all people. This was a move that every president preceding him was too afraid to make. Had he sat around and said that slavery was bad without asking how to solve the problem, no one would remember his name and the Union would’ve been lost. Rather than fixating on the problem, Lincoln created a solution. Now, he is remembered in history for his efforts towards equality and justice.
Be a problem solver and you will be handsomely rewarded for it.
To overcome the negativity in the world around us, we need to solve problems, not create more. Let’s be part of the solution, not part of the problem. In doing so, we can make the world a remarkable place.