Sunday, December 19, 2004

Problems Make the World Go Round

In general, whenever we encounter something, there are three three perspectives. One perspective is that something is good. Another is that it's bad. And the last is that it depends on the occasion. When it comes to problems and adversity, the common judgment is that it's bad, something to be avoided. I mean I complain and whine whenever there's a problem. Why did I get sick? Why did I have to fail? Why don't I have enough money? We'll never run out of problems. And the pessimist inside all of us views it as something horrible.

So are problems really horrible? I think they are, but only if we allow them to remain problems. I mean many people profit by solving problems. I mean doctors earn money be curing and helping the sick. If there wasn't sickness, there would be no need for doctors. The power of entrepreneurs is that they provide a service that was otherwise unavailable. If it was convenient to go shopping, and convenient stores like 7-11 wouldn't be thriving. But it is a hassle and so entrepreneurs provide us with better (albeit more expensive) options. And of course, if everything was so predictable that problems didn't pop up, we'd have no need for professions like economists, business consultants, and the like.

Personally, I'd dread to live a life without any problems. I mean where's the challenge in that? What's the point in living when you know that everything you attempt will succeed? Isn't part of the satisfaction the fact that it was initially unattainable, at least without exerting effort? We admire other people, whether they be our idols, our heroes, or our mentors, not because what they accomplished was easy, but because they overcame a very difficult hurdle. What separates them from ordinary men and women is the fact that they were above average, and that was measured by the quality of their opponent, whether it was another human being, a tragedy, a circumstance of birth, or an old paradigm.

There's also the question of personal growth. It's usually through adversity that we mature and become better people. I mean what would motivate a person to become better? Why not remain as helpless and ignorant as the day you were born? But because there are forces opposing us, we have to grow, actualize our inner strength, and conquer our fears. For me, the two most valuable virtues are wisdom and courage. Wisdom to recognize what we should do, and courage to actualize it. And those two virtues can only be developed in the face of trials. The old saying goes "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" and I don't think anyone wants to be killed.

There are actually several ways to act towards problems. One is to run away from them, but more often than not, that doesn't solve the problem. The same goes for whining and complaining. There's an illusion of action in whining and complaining, but in reality, we're doing and accomplishing nothing. We can also allow ourselves to be changed and be affected by the problem, and as you know, change is a two way street: we can come out as either worse off, or become better people. I'm hoping it's the latter. And perhaps the only way to make sure that happens is to change how I perceive problems. Rather than think how problems can harm me, I should ask myself how I can benefit from it. And whenever I'm tempted to whine and complain, the first thing I should ask myself is what I'm doing about it. There will always be complainers and whiners. But what this world needs are more problem solvers.


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