Problem Solving 101

There are two approaches to solving any problem: You can try to get rid of what's bad, or you can try to create something good. Trying to get rid of what's bad is the most natural approach. The very fact that you've recognized something you don't like has already put you in a negative frame of mind. The most immediate response is to try to get rid of the bad thing.

But the get-rid-of-it approach has drawbacks. First of all, it isn't good for your mood, and your mood is not a trivial factor. People in a bad mood make more mistakes, reduce the amount of cooperation they get from others, aren't as effective in their work, aren't as healthy or as determined or as creative, and they tend to make poor decisions.

The "getting rid" approach makes the whole process unpleasant. That isn't good for your level of persistence, and some important tasks require persistence.

The other approach to solving a problem is to try to make a good thing happen. This puts you in a good frame of mind, orients you to a positive future, and stimulates your creativity.

Whenever you have a problem to solve, forget about trying to get rid of it. Instead, focus on trying to make a good thing happen.

Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Direct Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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