Realize Something Is Wrong
The biggest problems we have are usually the ones where we don’t realize.
For example, a toxic relationship or a bad habit.
We have accepted these problems as a reality that cannot be changed, yet we constantly feel the negative effects of it.
Signs of a huge problem that needs to be solved ASAP:
- Feeling helpless
- Feeling the onset of depression
- Feeling of giving up
Other minor signs can be neglecting hygiene, low appetite, ignoring loved ones for long periods.
This framework can also be used to solve less serious problems.
Check Your Fundamentals
Always check your fundamentals first.
You need your mind to be in a good condition to solve a problem.
This study compared the performance of 16 subjects on a test of cognitive flexibility using anagram word puzzles following REM and NREM awakenings across the night, and waking performances during the day. REM awakenings provided a significant 32% advantage in the number of anagrams solved compared with NREM awakenings and was equal to that of wake time trials (1).
In other words. Sleep significantly helps with problem solving ability.
Eat trash, think like trash.
If you’re having a bad day, feeling emotional. It’s highly unlikely you will be making the right decision.
Check Your Thinking
Stoicism has many great lenses and tools that help to see problems in a new light.
Locus of control
Focus of what is within your power.
“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not.”
Practice gratefulness in order to reduce suffering.
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive-to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
― Marcus Aurelius
Since I and other beings both, in wanting happiness, are equal and alike, what difference is there to distinguish us, that I should strive to have my bliss alone?
Looking for a solution that only results in your happiness will be disastrous in the long run. With compassion we can pick a better solution that ensures the happiness of both/all.
Thus shall you think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
— Diamond Sutra
For advanced thinkers, if you see past the illusion of the Self. You can realize the illusory nature of life and deconstruct the suffering that permeates it’s fabric.
In other words, there is no-self, so who is really suffering?
Reaffirm Your Values
What do you value most?
Concepts you value can be a relationship you want to save, an ideal person you want to be.
Note these constraints before making your plan.
Solving a problem at the cost of your morality and ethics might be even more disastrous.
Make A Plan
- Making a plan keeps you accountable
- Making a plan helps break down a problem into actionable steps
- Making a plan gives to momentum to solve it
Prepare For The Worst
Before you finally take action, paused for a moment to imagine the worst case scenario.
Be at peace with it possibly happening.
Acknowledge that somethings are outside your control.
Making necessary preparations.
Detach From The Outcome
Whatever happens, don’t let it affect your inner peace.
Don’t let failure discourage you, don’t let success make you arrogant.
It is what it is.
Finally, Take Action
All the knowledge and planning in the world is useless without action.
Execute your plan boldly.
Real world example of how I used this framework.
Airbnb owner sends me a video of trash left outside my room. Indicating that they weren’t happy.
I’m worried I might get kicked out.
At the time I was cleaning my room so naturally trash is accumulated outside.
What I did:
I acknowledged the video but did not immediately respond fully. I was running on low sleep, thus I feel extra stressed. My first instinct was to respond rudely and defensively. Gave myself a good night’s sleep and responded to the video the next day.
Next, I gave myself time to think clearly. First, my fear of getting kicked out is just an exaggeration. My mind is playing tricks on me. It’s just a simple misunderstanding which my mind blew way out of proportion.
Next, with compassion I understood their perspective. Obviously they want to keep the place clean as possible all the time. More craftily, in a middle of a pandemic, they need money. Chances of getting kicked out are low.
Next, I understood that I can respond in the right way, but I can’t control their reaction. The things I can’t control, I’ll let it go.
Next, I wanted to value this relationship I’ve built with the owner. Thus I don’t want to burn any bridges or do things that damage my reputation. Also, my values as a person is to try to be ethical as possible.
Finally, I prepared for the worst. I started looking for other places to stay just in case I get kicked out. After making some plans, I know that whatever happens I can just roll with it.
Texted the owner. Often to pay for cleaning of the whole compound, not just my area.
Relationship back to normal.
Life seems like a series of problems that never end.
If we have a set process to deal with problems, it’ll make our life much easier and stress free.