How To Deal With Any Problem Effectively

“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
Marcus Aurelius

You have power over your mind. 

‘Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I know! I’ve read that Marcus phrase a thousand times now!

Sometimes I feel that way when I read these Stoic quotes now easy to find all over the internet. But then I read some new research, and they convey an entirely different meaning. 

For example, our problems. 

Life is full of problems. Every morning you wake up to solve a thousand of them. The first one usually is going to the restroom, or maybe turning the lights on so that you don’t hit your pinky toe with the bed’s leg on your way to the restroom. Life is full of these tiny problems. They are so easy to solve that we don’t even think about them anymore. Same thing with work. Maybe your work offers harder problems that really put you to think, but I’ve heard quite often that a lot of the jobs are just routine. Do this, do that, go home. 

Boring. 

Imagine that you’re playing Tennis with your 5-year old imaginary daughter. Would it be fun? Sure, I guess it would be fun in a fatherly way, but, would it be fun for you? Hell no. It’s too easy. You need to play against someone that offers you a challenge. That’s the magic word: challenge. 

Games are fun when they are hard enough for you to be able to test your abilities. Games are nothing but problems to be solved. Get a ball in a basket while avoiding other people that want to take the ball from you so that they can throw it through another basket. It’s funny when you put it so simply, but that’s it, really. 

Games are problems that require you to solve them, if you add style to the way you go about it, more fun for you. They are also plain fun. You engage in them for the simple reason that they offer you fun. 

Back to Marcus Aurelius. 

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Marcus Aurelius

Sometimes, when I’m at work, I feel overwhelmed. I’m tired, there’s too much to do, and I’m not in the mood for it. So what do I do? Unconsciously, at least at the beginning, I remember telling myself: ‘OK, there are four important things that need to be done right now, and then I can play Smash Brother’s or read Kurt Vonnegut. I want to sleep by 10:30, so I need to do this in under an hour so I can play or read, will I be able to make it? You bet I will! Let’s finish this shit.’ 

Paradoxically, by doing this, work stops being work, it becomes a challenge and it’s kind of, not terribly, to be plain honest, but definitely more fun.

You can turn any problem into a challenge. It’s all in your mind.

You see, yes, you have power over your mind. But, what kind of power? What can you do with it? 

The one I just told you is a simple one. Turn your problems into challenges and have fun with it. It’s simple and can be applied right now. But what else can you do with the twistings of your perception? Endless stuff, I’m telling you. 

But for now, focus on reframing your reality to see your problems as challenges and say to yourself I’ve got this

Ah, you’re making Marcus Aurelius proud now!

Optimism, the belief that your behavior matters in the midst of a challenge.

Thanks for reading, 

Ricardo Guaderrama

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