Apply Yourself

Life would be boring if it were easy.

I am constantly amazed at all the ways that my problems are solved. I am often surprised at the way that most of the problems I encounter tend to solve themselves. I am usually aware that when I solve problems myself, that’s because I applied myself to the problem, without fear and without worry about making mistakes. I have often found that with repeated attempts, eventually, I will solve a vexing problem. And every problem that I have encountered has required at least some patience, some experience, and a willingness to avoid shortcuts to the solution. Persistence is a virtue.

The success of the human race is dependent on our ability to solve problems. Nature is constantly solving for the problem of survival. Nature only solves enough problems to reproduce and then it seems to stop. That’s because our genes exist for just one purpose: reproduction. That’s what genes do. Everything else around these genes, that’s a bonus.

The sight of a rainbow is a bonus we get for having the capacity to see colors. The sound of a string quartet is a bonus for the capacity to hear sound. The smell of wet soil after rain is a bonus for our capacity to smell. The sensation of a flower petal between our fingers is a gift from our sense of touch. The taste of a creme brulee is a bonus from the sensory perception of taste. All of these capacities were built for our survival, and they just happen to please us, too.

Our five senses solve for the problem of survival. The problems solved by our senses were solved without conscious effort on the part of our brains. Our brains are designed to solve the immediate problem of staying alive. Our brains sense when we’re in danger, when we’re hungry, and when we need to find a safe place to relieve ourselves. Our brains solve the problem of day-to-day living and getting our needs met.

We’re really good at creating problems for ourselves, too. Have a look around humanity and we see how we treat each other, how we punish each other, how we are treated, and how we treat ourselves. I’ve seen people commit some terrible mistakes and wonder how those people sleep at night. I see how we live with self-reproach, unable to sleep at night for some mistake we made today, yesterday, or last year. Often we create more problems trying to solve other problems. We can hardly see beyond the consequences of our own actions.

Persistence is very good at conquering problems. I’ve seen personal problems persist for days, weeks and even months and found that with persistent application of whatever skill or talent I have to the problem at hand, will result in resolution of the problem. When I have a problem to solve, I take the time to study the problem, figure out what I can use to solve it, and apply myself to it. If a problem persists, then I keep applying myself to the problem until it’s resolved.

I solve problems at home and at work. I’ve seen problems at work become easy to solve because I didn’t give up. I sometimes wonder why other people don’t go one or two steps further to solve the problem before a service request comes to me. Quite often, a customer will come to me with a problem that had persisted for weeks or months, only to be solved in a few minutes by me. Sometimes, I have to get help to solve a problem and that might take a few days, but when the help is done, I still manage to solve a problem for the customer that he was not able to solve otherwise. I get some persistent customers.

Some of my problems have no easy solutions. Sometimes the solution is expesnive. But even if I have money, the solution still requires my time and attention. Sometimes, it’s obvious to me at the beginning, that a problem will requires weeks or months to solve. Sometimes experimentation is required where I have to keep experimenting with possible solutions to come up with something that satisfies my requirements. It’s like fitting a piece in a puzzle to me. That’s what most problems look like to me.

So I don’t get angry at my problems. I may feel some discomfort, but I’ve learned that getting angry at a problem doesn’t actually help me solve a problem. I’ve learned to let the feelings pass and then think about how I will solve the problem later. I’ve learned that anger is evidence of an inability to accept things the way they are now. Without that acceptance, problems are very hard to solve. It’s like being lost, being willing to look at a map to know where I am, and then accepting the news of my present location just to begin the journey home.

I know what it’s like to be lost. I know what it’s like to wonder if a problem in my life will ever be solved. I have some problems in my life that will never be solved. I acceept them and work on other things. I have found that I get to choose many of the problems I want to solve. I have learned that often, I can prioritize problems, I can triage my problems if they come hard and fast in one day. I am also aware that no problems are forever. Everything is temporary anyway. And if I make a mistake, next week, no one will remember.

So I apply myself to every problem. I make myself willing to keep applying myself to a problem long enough to know whether it can be solved or not. I pay attention so that I notice those little gifts in life, where a problem is noticed, maybe nudged a bit, and is mostly solved without my intervention. I’ve seen many problems solve themselves without my intervention beyond just noticing them, thinking that I’ll get around to them later. Then weeks or months later, I find that some problems were solved by someone or something, without my intervention. Yeah, that’s a gift.

So I don’t fret too much about problems. The wisdom of the universe solves most of them anyway. And for the rest, a little elbow grease, patience and a willingness to ask for help will do.

Write on.

Husband, father, worker, philosopher, and observer. Plumbing the depths of consciousness to find the spring of happiness. Write on.

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