Problem Solving Steps

Sage ReddyHappiness, Health, Wealth

Chances are you have a life. Which means you have problems. Question is, what are your problem solving steps?

It’s 1pm on a weekday afternoon in Portland, Oregon. Time to throw something together for lunch. I must eat before my stomach eats me alive. I pull away from my computer, head on over to the kitchen, only to find that my favorite burner on the stove (front left) is not available.

Sigh! How frustrating!

I had pulled out the heating element only this morning to get to the pan underneath in order to soak it in soapy water. My favorite stove burner needs cleaning. Again! And whose fault is that?

Mine and mine alone.

My Persistent Lil’ Problem

I make a frequent mess of our stove-top burner at home. Blame it on my love for chai and my late night hot-milk habit. To make either, you have to bring the milky contents to a boil, which, because I’m always busy doing something else, boil over onto the heating element below. I can never get to it in time to save it.

If you don’t clean the burner pan right away, the milk solids burn and start smoking. It gets progressively worse and becomes harder to clean. Did I mention I hate my burner problem? Worse, I hate the fact that I do it again and again and again. I tell myself it’ll never happen again, only to have a repeat performance the very next day.

Why do I let it boil over? Because I always have to do something else while the stuff boils, like attend to my email or make a phone call or write a blog post etc. The list of things to do any given day is endless and there’s never enough time. You know that.

Of course, there is an easy solution to my “milk boiling over” problem. All I have to do is hang by the stove and take it off the burner before it comes to a boil. But who wants to do that?! Watching stuff boil is only a little more interesting than watching paint dry. Besides, a watched pot never boils, don’t you know?

My peculiar problem has persisted for months now, if not years. People tell me I’m smart. If so, why can’t a smart guy solve a simple problem like this? Why does it continue to trump him? Makes you wonder about the guy.

Solution To My Lil’ Problem

I’m determined to solve my stupid problem, come what may. Then one day, this insight flashes across my mind: “The solution to any problem in life is contained in the problem itself.” Huh?! What does it mean? It  means if you really want to solve any life problem you must do the following:

1. Accept the problem. Hey, you have a problem, alright? Quit whining and accept it. Quit complaining about the problem (give your mind something to complain else to complain about for a change). Stop obsessing with the problem (that energy could be better used elsewhere). Stop hating the problem (or hating yourself for being unable to solve it). Stop all this useless expenditure of energy and accept your problem as, at least temporarily, unsolvable.

2. Imagine problem solved. How would it feel if your problem were miraculously solved? Go ahead and feel it. Chronic problems continue to plague us because we refuse to believe that there might actually be a solution. The mind then focuses on the problem instead of the solution. And you get more of what you dwell on: the problem. That’s the Law of Attraction for you. Shifting your focus away from the problem to an imaginary “solution” will be hard if you’re the obsessive-compulsive type, but it’s well worth it.

3. Understand the problem. Don’t try to solve the problem, just try to understand it. Tell yourself, I don’t need to solve this darn problem; I just need to make sense of it. It wouldn’t hurt me to simply understand it, would it? So the pressure’s off. You’re off the hook, mate. Relax, take a deep breath. Be curios, be playful. Don’t try to solve anything, simply figure out why it’s doing what it’s doing.

Time to walk my talk.

As a Life Coach, I bank on energy-psychology to help my clients. Time to use it on myself, right? Only 5 minutes into it, I collapse my emotions surrounding my silly problem. I am able to accept the problem—even if I’ll never be able to solve it. That is precisely when I have my flash of insight: “The solution to any problem is contained in the problem itself.”

Next, it’s time to put the cart before the horse. I dare myself to imagine a life without my silly burner problem. No more messes. No more pulling and cleaning burners. No more wasted time. What a a sweet life! How does it feel? Well, it feels good. I can feel it. I’m grateful for such a life.

Now it’s time to understand my problem. Turns out, the reason my chai milk boils over again and again is because I put it on high heat. Duh! When the milk comes to a boil, I can hiss the hissing sound as it rises in the hot pan from wherever in the room I am. That’s good—because it gets my attention. The high heat, however, makes it boil over too fast. That’s bad—because I can’t get to it in time to save it.

My solution?

Simple. Turn down the burner heat, you fool. Keep it where’s high enough to get it boiling quickly, but low enough so it gives you enough time to catch it before it boils over.

Problem solved!

So there you have it. Got a problem eating your lunch? Here’s Sage’s problem solving 101:

“The solution to any problem is contained in the problem itself.” ~ Srinivas “Sage” Reddy

Because once you really “see” the problem for what it is, you’ve have already solved it.

So here’s your problem-solving takeaway:

  1. Accept your problem.
  2. Imagine it solved.
  3. Be curious and understand it.

Here’s wishing creative solutions to all your life problems.

Image Source: