Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems...
Every single one of us faces problems and adversity daily in our lives (even Jay-Z has at least 99...). I chuckle thinking about how Tony Robbins defines the term "problem" -- as uncertainty that we don't want. It's funny because we all want an element of uncertainty in our lives in order to spice things up, yet there's clearly a point where that uncertainty becomes a 'problem' in our mind. The most frustrating part isn't that we have problems in our lives, though; rather, it's how much time and energy we give to them in the first place.
Problems are easy to get swept up in. They, like any stressor, dominate our minds and challenge the forefront of our thought -- preoccupying and distracting us from everything else going on. There's nothing wrong with acknowledging our problems, and recognizing the difficulty we face with them; it's actually a very healthy practice to take part in. When that preoccupation dominates our minds, and all we do is swirl and twirl in our heads about our problems, we've reached a very difficult point. You see, the more we worry and focus on our problems, the more likely we are to put off doing anything about them. Unless they demand serious and immediate action, our natural tendency is to avoid the anxiety, stress, and pain that we associate when dealing with them. Naturally, that does nothing to help matters, as the problems continue to exist, and inevitably we focus directly on them again; and at this point, things have gotten waaaaay worse. So we go back to avoiding, or doing the absolute minimum to keep them at bay. Rinse and repeat. It's a vicious cycle.
It's a cycle we can break, though; by shifting our focus and committing to action, we can alleviate so much of this pain and preoccupation. Every time we focus and fixate on our problems, we are giving them energy and life. We perpetuate their existence by giving them the proverbial time of day. Now, as I just mentioned, simply ignoring them doesn't rectify this. Instead, we need a mindset shift. Rather than focus on the problem, how difficult it will be to overcome, and how frustrating it will be to endure, focus on the solution. It's an easy statement to make, but much more difficult a practice to employ. But it's an incredibly powerful one.
Obviously, we've got to acknowledge our problems and think about them in order to come up with a solution or positive course of action moving forward. And that's perfectly fine; we don't want to pretend the problem doesn't exist, or diminish the magnitude of effort it will take to overcome. However, when we decide on a course of action, the positive outcome becomes our focus. Instead of fleeing back to think about the problem and all of the 'what if?' negative outcomes that our brain can dream up, we set our minds squarely on obtaining our desired outcome. By following the path we create for ourselves, our problem is naturally taken care of during the course of events. We commit energy and life to our solution -- our desired outcome -- in order to manifest it in our lives. Instead of worrying about "well what if XYZ happens?" at every turn, we're working towards a tangible state that pulls us forward positively.
This strategy is very similar to the toward vs. away style of thinking, and has the same effect. When our focus is on what we want to achieve instead of what we want to avoid, we empower ourselves in a much stronger way. It doesn't mean we won't misstep or falter along the way to achieving our outcome, but when our minds are set on achieving our solution instead of further commiserating about the problem, a clearer and stronger path is set out before us. When we prime our mindset in this manner, fear and doubt have far weaker grip upon us, and our energy is focused on creating rather than avoiding. If you ask me, it's a much more desirable state to live in.