• David Strittmatter

Live a better life - fall in love with solving problems

To live is to solve problems - Mark Manson

Summary:

  • Life is essentially an endless series of problems

  • Fortunately, problems aren't generally bad. There are good and bad problems

  • The solutions to today's problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow's problems


Practical advice:

  • To live a happier life and increase the number of good problems, you need to take care of the bad problems first

  • Stop denying these problems exist and blaming others or outside circumstances for your problems

  • Take full responsibility for all your problems


Dear friend,


Have you ever imagined a problem-free life? And do you think problems are rather something good or something bad?


In our world, there's no such thing as a problem-free life. Just the act of staying alive is a landscape of various problems confronting us every second on every day. We'll always have to solve problems.


You might now think "captain obvious, tell me something new!".


Even though this realization seems to be trivial, there's a lot behind it. Since the day I acknowledged that we cannot and thus shouldn't aim for a problem-free life, I've gained a massive boost in motivation and vitality.


In today's article, I want to talk about why you should fall in love with problems and surround yourself with those you want to solve and how you can do that.


Good and bad problems


Life is essentially an endless series of problems. You cannot escape them; the solution to one problem is the creation of the next. Just think about it: After you found the love of your life, you need to find and undertake activities you both enjoy.


Fortunately, problems aren't generally bad. There are good and bad problems - i.e. problems you want to solve and those you don't want to have in your life.


Let's look at some examples:

  • I love eating delicious food. Scanning through the menu in a nice restaurant to find the best dish for me is something I really enjoy. Paying lots of money for a dish that didn't satisfy my hunger I really dislike.

  • How about intimate relationships? Relationships are the source of problems but also the source of happiness. Opinions differ, personalities clash, preferences don’t align, feelings get hurt, communication gets confused, emotions ebb and flow, and so forth. But there are definitely various exceptionally joyful moments in every relationship, too.

  • Social problems: Choosing the perfect outfit to go out can be super exciting for one person but a great struggle for someone else.

Most of these problems are simple: Decide what you want to eat, find a good movie to watch, go to the restroom, ... Sometimes, though, problems are complicated: Fixing your relationship after you had a fierce argument, finding a university course you can feel good about, starting with a new hobby such as running. These complex problems are fast created but may take a while to be properly managed. It's easy to get pregnant but bringing up a child is totally different level.


Often, when we complain about life, it's when we feel overwhelmed by the number of bad problems: How can I convince my crush to fall in love with me? How can I become a doctor despite my weak GPA? How to pay all the bills?


It's not that we dislike problems in general. Actually, we love solving them - the good ones. Consequently, don’t hope for a life without problems. Hope for a life full of good problems.


Fall in love with solving problems


One of my favorite authors - Mark Manson - wrote in his book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck":

Happiness comes from solving problems. [...] Happiness is a constant work-in-progress. The solutions to today's problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow's problems.

Like Mark Manson, I strongly believe happiness comes from solving problems. The emphasis here is on solving. Avoiding or denying your problems is the sure path to make yourself miserable. What's also bad is the feeling that you cannot solve a problem.


True happiness occurs when we find the problems we enjoy having and enjoy solving.

Money isn't the solution here. You cannot fix your relationship with your parents with money. You cannot fix your self-esteem with money. You cannot fix your nicotine addiction with money... Money is a great means to solve many problems, though, the secret sauce is to avoid problems you don't want to solve in the first place.


The solutions to today's problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow's problems.


When we want to increase the number of good problems in our lives, we cannot simply live day-by-day but have to think more long-term:

  • You might enjoy eating convenience food to satisfy your need for food today, but this behavior will surely generate problems you don't want to solve in a few years

  • You might enjoy postponing that important decision to tomorrow, but that'll make the problem even worse

  • You might still deny that you've got a toxic relationship, but you'll surely regret this denial when things get even worse

Surround yourself with good problems


For years, I've been trying to eliminate and minimize the number of bad problems in my life to make room for problems I love solving. And there're so many bad problems you can easily circumvent by making easy decisions right today.


To live a happier life and increase the number of good problems, you need to take care of the bad problems first. They won't easily go away by themselves.


The most important step in order to tackle them is to stop denying these problems exist. We must stop deluding or distracting ourselves from reality. It may make us feel good in the short term, but it leads to a life full of bad problems later on.


Additionally, we need to start believing that we can solve our problems. Too many people blame others or outside circumstances for their problems. Yet, it's us - we need to take responsibility for everything in our lives.


Then, when we successfully proactively solve bad problems, we almost made it. Now, there's great room for all the problems you love solving, such as enhancing relationships with your friends and family (plan family events, boyz/girlz-weeks, or go out and party, etc), spend more time on your hobbies, or commit yourself to a meaningful voluntary organization.


Of course, you can and should combine these two steps. For instance, you could start a new hobby that solves your current and future health problems or leave your current job and find a more meaningful position.


Ultimately, you need to decide: Do you accept that there's no problem-free life? Do you take full responsibility for all your problems? And are you willing to solve your bad problems from today on?

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