Funny and true

     There is an abundance of empirical evidence available that points us towards a simple but startling conclusion: How we look at things changes how things look.    

This conclusion startles me because, quite honestly, if I’m looking at something as a problem, I am already convinced that it IS a problem and not just how I’m LOOKING at it. Now, with the conclusion in the first paragraph staring at me, I can no longer be so sure. Now I have to consider that my perspective might just be all of or, at least, a contributing part of the problem itself. Frankly, that sucks. By myself, I only have my perspective. And that perspective only sees a problem.

Even Albert Einstein was reported to have observed (and I do not quote here because I’ve found several versions of the idea): We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

Something has to give. Something different, something new, something unexpected has to be introduced before a solution has reveal itself. It’s rarely a matter of IQ power or brute determination. It’s frequently the opposite…a question reframed or a sequence shifted…a pause, a step back, a waiting patiently for an intuition…an asking another person for their perspective. And the transition from seeing only the problem to opening up to a solution is made possible.

A well known politician was once asked if he was a ‘glass half-full or a glass half-empty’ kind of person, to which he replied, “Depends on how thirsty I am, I suppose.”

Funny and true.

Staring at it won’t change it

At an earlier stage in my life it was pointed out to me that I was fixated on everything that was wrong in the world. The observation was made at a dinner party with friends and wasn’t mean spirited. Since I had never noticed that pattern in myself for myself, I reacted predictably. I denied it.

The comment had struck something inside me though, created a disturbance of sorts, generated a peculiar type of mental nagging that demanded me to do something about it. The truth often works on us like this. The truth doesn’t so much clamor for our attention as much as, once it is pointed out, it just won’t go away.

So I conducted a little experiment on myself. Using lines and slashed to tally just the frequency of my wrong finding thoughts or statements, I kept a count on myself for a whole day. (yeah, I know) I gathered the raw data without censorship, editing or fudging and, when finished, conceded the point. There were 177 instances of me remarking or thinking about something that was wrong….with this or with that or with them….specifically and generally. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It was amazing how adept and dedicated I was to finding faults. Even the positives I saw were quickly qualified by the negative I was sure was coming next.

This realization was an “Aha!” moment of the unpleasant variety. Very unsettling.

You see, I had always considered myself to be a very constructive and positive person. Not that I was particularly happy. (In truth, I couldn’t understand why I was always so agitated) Nevertheless, my whole purpose behind finding the faults, the underlying reason that I gave myself for pointing all this stuff out, was so that the problems could be fixed. Even in myself. Then, perhaps, I would feel better…be happier.

Somehow in my thought processes back then I had confused and convinced myself that ‘seeing’ a problem clearly was the same thing as ‘doing’ something about it.

I stared at the problem(s) and couldn’t understand how they remained unaltered by my intense scrutiny. I was a pain in the ass to many who knew me. I was frustrated and depressed with myself. I hadn’t yet learned that, in life, what you focus your energy on grows.

For sure, recognizing a problem is both initial and necessary.

However, being willing to step into the possible solutions is the only path to relief and joy.