Stress Management: Problem Land or Solution Land

In my experience, most of us spend a lot more time living in problem land, griping and complaining, than we do in solution land, working hard and enjoying solving problems.

It's almost become a national past time. Just check out a talk show or a self help book. Almost all the time and space is spent describing, giving examples, and complaining about the problem, with, if we're lucky, only a glimpse at possible solutions.

Drives me nuts.

Having said all that, let's look at some signs and symptoms of problem land and some signs and solutions for solution land.

How to Live in Problem Land

Complain. A lot. Raise it to an art form.

When something goes wrong, immediately look for someone to blame.

A cousin to the one above, when something goes wrong, take no responsibility for changing things.

Keep a working list of all offenses ever done to you, and bring them up when anything bad happens.

Spend 95% of your time focusing on and complaining about the problem, and only 5% on working toward a solution. This my biggest gripe with most self-help books.

Make lots of disempowering, self-defeating statements, such as: "This isn't fair." "This shouldn't be happening" "This isn't my fault"

Follow this up with disempowering, self-defeating questions, such as: "Why is the world out to get me?" "Why doesn't God like me?"

Or as Rabbit says in Winnie the Pooh, "Why does this always happen to me? Why, oh why, oh why?"

All of above factors keep your focus on the problem instead of the solution. At best, you may be able to get someone to feel sorry for you, and at worst, you stay stuck in the problem.

How to Live in Solution Land

Number one rule. When problems arise (and they will), look for solutions. In the movie "Rising Sun", actor Sean Connery has this great line, "In America, when something goes wrong, we look for someone to blame. In Japan, when something goes wrong, they look for solutions."

Consider this quote from Richard Bach, author of "Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.": "There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in it's hands. We seek problems because we need their gifts."

Ask questions that lead to action, such as: "How can I make this work for me?" "What might be the gift for me in this problem?"

Spend no more that 5% of your time and energy complaining about the problem, and 95% of your time and energy creatively solving the problem.

Consider these solutions oriented questions from motivational expert Tony Robbins:

What's not perfect yet?

What's good about this problem? If you can't think of anything good, ask "If there was something good about this, what would it be?" What am I willing to do to solve this problem?

What am I willing to no longer do to solve this problem?

What actions can I take that will help me solve this problem and enjoy the process?

"There is a time in the life of every problem when it is big enough to notice and small enough to solve quickly." Attack problems early and head on, before they have a chance to grow.

I'll close with a fantastic quote from W. Mitchell, one to live by: "It's not what happens to us in life that makes the difference. It's what we do about it." In other words, we have the power of choice. Problem land or solution land, which will it be for you?

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