A Case for the Need of Problems in our Life

Imagine waking up one fine morning when you feel the best about yourself – full of positive spirit and a can-do attitude. You feel as if everything is possible. You can achieve what you desire. A life with no problem, at all!

How many times have we dreamt such a life? Perhaps, innumerable. It is desirable as it is often a transient state. So we wish it to be a life-long state. But we fail to realize the inherent yet invisible thorn in such a rosy picture – the problem itself. Let me explain this conundrum. In a life with no problem, you will have taken admission in the same school as your kinder garden partner in crime. You will have grown up with same set of people around you who were accustomed to your erratic behavior. You will not have gone miles away from your home town for graduation and you will have received the same job as your cousin brother or retired uncle had advised. This is just perfect – you are doing what you could have done without any problems!

But did you really wish for it? Hmm..not too sure about it. May be yes, may be no. Let’s examine further. The common thread in above mentioned instances is predictability. It seems far too simple and easy. A life with no problem is a life with no struggle. Neither challenges to inspire us nor disputes to bond with others. Would you be able to make new enemies (and friends) in a new school? Would you be able to celebrate the success of securing a decent job given your poor grades in college? Would you be able to appreciate what ‘home’ really means? Perhaps, not really. A life with no problems is just a plain routine life with its predictable nature that takes away the experience (fun, memories, learning) derived from the uncertain turn of events.

It is a problem that brings out the best or even the worst but true form of ourselves – that has been alien to us. Just as darkness defines or gives meaning to light so does a problem to an opportunity. Without problems, we will not learn and grow. I can draw a parallel to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution – an example of giraffes; when faced with a scarcity of vegetation on ground (difficulty), they had to stretch their necks to reach higher branches of trees and consequently they survived (big opportunity!) in a new world. At this point, we can establish that problems are not truly issues. So what makes them an issue or undesirable, to be more precise? Well, it is an expectation or hope. The human mind, by its very own nature, thinks either about past or future. And when thinking about the future, the only thing that mind does best is to wish or plan. So when faced with a problem, this plan – an expectation of ours, might turn out differently than thought. The immediate reaction  – a disappointment that follows the wish for a life with no problem, at all!    

disappointment

 

However, in the end everything works out well. I could not think of any better way to substantiate this point than Steve Job’s inspiring speech at Stanford. What struck me the most and apt for this discussion are these words from his first story about connecting the dots:

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. 

Most often, we would think of problems , well as a problem! But in retrospection, these problems we face in our lives are likely to appear as the building blocks that helped us to reach our destination, perhaps even better than our plan.

So, next time when you miss the last bus to your office please don’t fret over it. Instead just consider yourself as fortunate and smile. 🙂

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