3 things I’ve learned about problems

1. They’re present no matter which path you take. There is no problem-free or pain-free path. The paths we take just change the nature of the problems we face.

2. There are two kinds of problems – tiny issues and systemic problems. Tiny issues constitute all the small, unexpected and annoying things that happen to us – e.g., losing a wallet, getting sick, etc. These insert themselves in our lives every once a while and there’s not much we can do about them. Tiny issues are regular tests of our character – we can either choose to moan and complain or move on by giving them the attention they need but not letting them dictate our experience.

Systemic problems, on the other hand, are those that affect our entire system. These sorts of problems arise when we’re feeling stuck, negative or unclear about whether we’re doing the right thing. They come with big failures and big disappointments. Systemic problems are usually blessings-in-disguise as the only way to solve them is by taking the time to reflect, to be aware of what’s going on, evaluating our options and choosing a path that feels most right. They’re tougher problems to solve and generally stay for longer. And, the hardest part about systemic problems is discerning which portions of the solution are within our influence and then focusing entirely on them.

3. All our problems are first world problems. If you are reading this on a laptop/mobile phone wherever you are, it is highly likely that you, like me, are living what I term a first world life. All the basics – food, shelter, and physical security – have largely been taken care of. We work for happiness, not for survival. And, the problems we face largely emerge from the choices we make. All these problems are good problems. They remind us that we’re vulnerable and make our journey interesting.

And, one last thing, there’s a wonderful truth that applies to all sorts of phases in our lives, both tough and easy – ‘even this will pass.’

True that.

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